Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

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It was a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes at the Quebec Winter Carnival.

During a recent press trip, we got an exclusive behind the scenes look at the Quebec Winter Carnival. As you can imagine, there are preparations all year long for the biggest and most famous festival in the city. Today is the first day of the event this year! It runs from January 29th to February 14th, 2016. To celebrate the beginning of the Quebec Winter Carnival, we’re taking you on a tour to show you some of the planning that goes into putting on a festival of this size.

Our tour was led by the main mascot himself, Bonhomme Carnaval. He’s truly the face of the Winter Carnival. When you think about the festival, I’m sure that Bonhomme comes to mind. He was very jolly, funny, and a great guide. After all, who knows how to celebrate the winter better than Bonhomme?

Here’s a short video so you can take a look behind the scenes with us:

A Brief History

If you haven’t heard of the Quebec Winter Carnival, you’re likely wondering…what is it, and who is this snowman? Well, this is an annual winter festival in Quebec City. It started back in 1894, and it’s happened every year consecutively since 1955. Bonhomme made his first appearance in 1955, and now he would never miss it. Over a million people attend the Winter Carnival, making it one of the biggest celebrations of winter in the world. The festival has something for people of all ages, with activities and events happening all day and night. Be sure to pack your winter gear and enjoy playing in the snow!

Activities and Events

Here are a list of the activities that you don’t want to miss:

  • Day and night parades, led by Bonhomme
  • International snow sculpture competition
  • Ice canoe race – teams cross the partially frozen St. Lawrence River through snow and ice
  • Snow bath – be brave, wear your bathing suit, and roll around in the snow!
  • Bonhomme’s ice palace – a castle made of ice
  • Ride down the ice slide at Plains of Abraham
  • Ice skating
  • Introductory snowboarding lessons for kids
  • Ice hockey
  • Zip-lining
  • Drink Caribou, the official beverage of the Carnival (we got to try some – wowzas, it’s strong!)
  • Winter symphony musical performance

Essentially, if there’s a way to have fun in the wintertime, you’ll be able to find it at Carnaval de Québec!

Behind the Scenes

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of work and magic at play behind the scenes at the Quebec Winter Carnival. From designing the parade floats to sewing all of the costumes, employees are hard at work even months ahead of the festival. All of these important components are constructed in a large warehouse space. It is truly a winter wonderland there, except it’s indoors and there isn’t any snow (unless you count the giant snowflakes on the walls). We walked from one space to the next, marveling at all of the detailed handiwork that goes into designing and creating each piece from scratch.

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Bonhomme gave each of us a gift that happens to be a part of his costume: an arrowed sash. or ceinture fléchée. It’s the blue, white, and red sash around my waist in the photos. It is a traditional piece of 19th century French-Canadian clothing, originally borrowed from the indigenous peoples. It was typically used to fasten men’s jackets around their waists to keep the cold from entering. It was both practical and fashionable. Bonhomme famously sports the arrowed sash, and these are also sold at the Winter Carnival.

And while a group photo was appropriate for the occasion…

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

Bonhomme was excited to take a selfie with us!

Maybe even a little too excited.


The Winter Carnival takes place in Quebec City from January 29th – February 14th, 2016. You can find all of the details at the official website.

Quebec Winter Carnival: Behind the Scenes

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Have you ever been to the Quebec Winter Carnival?


9 Responses

  1. Frog and Freckles
    | Reply

    We loved the winter carnival in Quebec! Have you ever seen the ‘Bain de Neige’? Still don’t know how those people dance around in swimwear when it’s so cold!

  2. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    | Reply

    It’s great to get a behind the scenes tour of the Carnival. The Carnival certainly seems action-packed as well.

  3. shere
    | Reply

    In the part of The Netherlands where I live there isn’t any carnival. In Madrid, carnival is huge and also a lot of fun

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    | Reply

    That really looks like a fun behind-the-scenes tour. Quebec Winter Carnival sounds like so much fun, although I think I would skip the snowbath. I’d be particularly interested in seeing the snow sculptures and snow castle.

  5. RobRob@TravelLatte(.net)
    | Reply

    Oh my gosh – that is so cool! It’s very similar to the goings on at Mardi Gras World before Carnival. Lots of work leads up to lots of fun, huh? Thanks for the peek behind the scenes! #WeekendWanderlust

  6. Shobha
    | Reply

    I’ve not heard of the Quebec festival but have been seeing photos of Bonhomme pop up on my FB feed. So now I know what that is!

  7. Corinne
    | Reply

    I love a winter carnival. There is something super special about outdoor activities in the crisp cold air. To go behind the scenes is always fun. I love learning how events/things are put together. Fascinating!

  8. Zita
    | Reply

    I have been to Quebec City twice now but both times it’s been during Summer months… I can’t begin to imagine it in the winter! I am not a big fan of the cold but know that I should embrace it to be able to see cool things like this! Looks like you had a fun day!

  9. Arnie
    | Reply

    You guys look like you had a lot of fun. We are hoping to make it to Quebec City this summer. It’s been on the list for some time.

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