- 1 Meet Bonhomme!
- 2 Visit Bonhomme’s Castle!
- 3 Watch the International Snow Sculpture Competition
- 4 Watch the Charlesbourg Night Parade
- 5 Eat delicious Canadian Cuisine
- 6 Attend a Masquerade Ball or Go to a Dance Party!
- 7 Drink Caribou
- 8 Have a snow bath!
- 9 Enjoy some Canadian Winter Sports
- 10 Become a Human Foosball!
- 11 Where to stay during the Quebec Winter Carnival?
- 12 Take a Tour!
Bonhomme is the official mascot of the Quebec Winter Carnival. He is a giant seven-foot-tall white jolly snowman who wears a red hat and a red sash across him. Every year he is given a key to the city and officially reigns over the carnival.
To the locals Bonhomme is more than a mascot, he is as real as you and me! For many, the highlight of carnival is if you’re lucky enough to have an encounter with Bonhomme. In the eyes of some Quebec youngsters Bonhomme is adored more than Santa Clause!
The ultimate accessory at Quebec Winter Carnival is to wear the arrow sash that Bonhomme wears which can be purchased in many shops around Quebec City. It makes Bonhomme very proud.
Visit Bonhomme’s Castle!
Bonhomme is a snowman with an expensive taste! Bonhomme lives a life of luxury because every year he gets a brand new, architecturally designed ice palace to live in! It is essential when attending Quebec Winter Carnival to visit Bonhomme’s Ice Palace!
The Ice Palace is magical at night time when it is all lit up with bright LED lights. Night time is also when the palace transforms into a dance club. DJs spin some beats and revellers dancing the night away all while enjoying the strong alcoholic drinks served from the nearby huts.
The Bonhomme Ice Palace is opposite Quebec Parliament Building just a few steps from the fairgrounds. Bonhomme also lets you tour his palace and all the walls and furniture is made of ice.
Bonhomme has a reputation of being a bad host but sometimes he may show up to his own house party so keep an eye out for him!
Watch the International Snow Sculpture Competition
If you want your jaw to drop them make sure you check out the International Snow Sculpture Competition which is one of the absolute highlights of Quebec Winter Carnival. It showcases the most incredible mind-blowing ice sculptures.
The competition features the best ice sculptures from around the world who compete against each other in the hopes of winning snow carving superiority. If you’re lucky you may even be able to witness the carvers turning their ice-block’s into a piece of art.
The event sees carvers work around the clock during opening weekend to transform huge piles of snow into a masterpiece of their choosing. The public is even allowed to vote for who they believe should be the champion.
Watch the Charlesbourg Night Parade
There are two family friend night parades that are held during Quebec Winter Carnival. The first is the Charlesbourg Night Parade and the second is the Upper Town Night Parade. Both are festive processions that include lots of singing, dancing, gorgeous costumes and floats and of course an appearance by Bonhomme.
Eat delicious Canadian Cuisine
Ever heard of “Beaver Tails”?
well they are one of the favourite treats at carnival. They are essentially just a flat donut in the shape of a beaver’s tail, but they go so well with a nice cup of hot chocolate. Or you can also roast some marshmallows around crackling fires to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Another Canadian favourite is maple taffy. This is an incredible tasty treat made from boiled maple syrup that is then drizzled over snow and when cooled turns into a delicious soft candy eaten on a stick! It’s a must try, I mean what’s more Canadian then maple syrup?
For some more savoury Canadian treats try some poutine, it’s like the most Canadian dish ever. It’s French fries covered in gravy (more like swimming in gravy) and topped with cheese. Or try tourtiere a traditional French-Canadian dish. It is a meat pie that’s only served in the winter months.
Attend a Masquerade Ball or Go to a Dance Party!
There is a fancy Masquerade Ball held at the Chateau Frontenac every year that attracts hundreds of fancy-dressed individuals. Actually there are so many other events that occur during carnival like organised dances and parties that are thrown in honor of Winter Carnival all throughout Quebec City. Of course, the Outdoor Dance Party outside Bonhomme’s Ice Palace is a must.
What is a Caribou?
Anyone who lives in Quebec will tell you that a caribou is pretty much the greatest drink ever created. Caribou is similar to mulled wine and for the most part contains red wine, brandy, cinnamon sticks and of course maple syrup. It is served everywhere at carnival, hot and cold. Caribou is guaranteed to ward off those winter by warming you up from inside out.
Have a snow bath!
This is not for the faint of heart! It is only for the brave and maybe the most insane who have the guts to go out in sub-zero temperatures and literally take a bath in the snow. It’s very fun to watch and if you have the balls, why not try it yourself.
Enjoy some Canadian Winter Sports
What’s a winter carnival without some ice-skating?
Coming to Quebec during winter and not putting on some ice-skates would be a tragedy. There is a nice outdoor ice-rink that is put up at D’Youville. It’s a beautiful place to skate as you are surrounded by historic old buildings.
Also you could try the Toboggan Ice Slide. This is one of the most popular and fun events at Winter Carnival! Four people can hop on a toboggan and slide downhill towards the Château Frontenac. If you’re a speed junkie then this is the thing for you, because the sleds can reach speeds of up to 70 km/hour.
Become a Human Foosball!
You can also try the human foosball setup which sees you being strapped to a pole while you and your teammates attempt to score the most goals without hands. The game is played with 18 people, nine on each team and you are attached to poles in groups of three and you all must work together to hit the ball. The game is loads of fun.
Where to stay during the Quebec Winter Carnival?
There are so many excellent hotels in Quebec City. Quebec Winter Carnival is located outside the walls surrounding the historic centre. This means that any accommodation in the Vieux-Quebec is a good option because then you can easily walk from the hotel to the carnival.
Hotels close to the activities and events include Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Hotel Chateau Laurier Québec and Hilton Québec. These hotels are pricey though. But before you book a room further away, check for some package deals they offer which may make your vacation worthwhile.
The Hilton Québec is a great option because the hotel sits right across the street from the carnival grounds and offers spectacular views of the Ice Palace which particularly at night looks amazing all lit up, and it is better to watch it from the comfort of your warm room!
For a really unique winter carnival experience, you can stay at the Ice Hotel known as Hotel de Glace. This place is, we kid you not a whole hotel made from ice! Even if you’re not interested in staying inside it you can always just take a tour.
Check out some great Quebec accommodation deals here.
Take a Tour!
We actually noticed on Tour Radar that there were several tours for Quebec Winter Carnival that may be worth checking out if you want to have a fun, festive and exciting Canadian Winter Adventure without worrying about the details.
Also if you come to Quebec for Carnival, then carnival is just the icing on the cake because Quebec is an incredibly culturally and historically rich city! Check out Viator which has loads of different tours, sightseeing trips and activities including some Winter Carnival tours.
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Read your ultimate guide to Quebec Winter Carnival here!