Five Highlights from the Quebec City Winter Carnival
It comes around once a year for almost three weeks, and is a Quebec tradition that has its beginnings in 1894. The Quebec City Winter Carnival falls in January/February every year in Quebec City, and is looked forward to not only by the city of Quebec but by people from all over Canada and the world. It is one of the largest carnivals in the world—after those in Rio and New Orleans–and is filled with winter activities and events that will make you forget how dreadful winter in Canada can be. This February, I had the opportunity to visit Québec City during the carnival for my first time, and was blown away by how the city really comes together for this winter spectacle. Here were some of my highlights from my weekend celebrating the Quebec City winter carnival.
1. Trying maple taffy at the Sugar Shack
A Canadian tradition, maple taffy, is a sugary treat made by boiling maple sap, pouring it onto the snow and then lifting it with a popsicle stick to eat and enjoy. It can be purchased at many places throughout Québec City, but there’s a sugar shack right on-site at the Carnival.
2. Zorbe ball bowling
Climbing into a giant inflatable ball to run down a hill of snow to try and knock over giant inflatable bowling pins wasn’t something I thought I’d find myself doing, but seeing it at Carnival, I couldn’t say no.
The Quebec City Winter Carnival is one of the largest carnivals in the world—after those in Rio and New Orleans–and is filled with winter activities and events that will make you forget how dreadful winter in Canada can be.
3. Sampling Caribou for the first time
Caribou is a Québécois alcoholic beverage made from red wine, hard liquor (such as whisky) and maple syrup or sugar. It can be enjoyed hot or cold, and is not necessarily a drink that is enjoyed all year round, but is a tradition for the Winter Carnival. Caribou can be purchased throughout the festival grounds.
4. A short but sweet dog-sledding ride
Hop on the back of the sleigh as the driver, or take a seat and sit back to enjoy the ride. I was impressed at how much energy these dogs had, and how fun such a short ride could be. Dog-sledding is usually a day-long activity, but here you can be led around a circular track at the festival grounds.
5. The Charlesbourg night parade
Carnival has a few night parades, all in different areas of the city. I was lucky enough to be there for the Charlesbourg night parade, which was incredibly impressive. Floats with musical performers and dancers in flashy costumes went past. The parade ended with an appearance from Bonhomme, the jolly snowman and face of the festival.
I was impressed by how great the Winter Carnival was: I’m not a big fan of winter or being cold, but the Carnival really encourages you to celebrate and embrace the season. Even as a Canadian, I was excited to partake in some traditional (and non-traditional) activities I had never tried before. I would definitely encourage anyone who is thinking about visiting Canada in the winter to add the Quebec City Winter Carnival to their bucket list.