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Thursday, 14 March 2013 10:58

Quebec's Famous Winter Carnival

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The word “Carnival” brings to mind festive floats, elaborate costumes and raucous celebrating. It is celebrated in many places such as Rio de Janiero, and of course Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but, for cold climate lovers there is a major annual celebration in Canada at the Quebec Winter Festival. It is the largest winter festival in the world, and attendance over the seventeen days numbers near one million. Carnival is usually celebrated just before the week of Lent, and for 2013, the celebration in Quebec kicks off on February 1st, and runs through February 17th. 


The Quebec Winter Festival takes place in various locations throughout old Quebec City, and features something for everyone. All events are within walking distance of each other, but the climate is cold so be sure to advise your clients to dress warmly and in layers. The average temperature during this time of year is in the teens, and the ground is snow covered so warm boots and wooly socks are a must. 

Celebrations kick off at the Ice Palace, which is a fantasy like, ornate castle made of ice, home to Bonhomme, a friendly snowman who greets visitors throughout the festival. Bonhomme has been the mascot of the carnival since 1955, and is distinctive in his friendly appearance, sporting a red cap and a big smile, as well as a traditional French-Canadian sash. 

Thousands of visitors attend the Carnival daily, and there are events for everyone in the family. Parents pull their children throughout the festival grounds on sleds and tobaggans on their way to the children’s play zone and to experience the giant snow slide. There are day and night parades past snow sculptures, led by the famous Bonhomme. The Carnival is a winter playground with events such as ice and snow sculpture contests, dog sled races, horse drawn sleigh rides, concerts, and ice skating. Your more adventurous clients may want to take a snow bath, or zip line through the carnival.

Celebrated since 1894, the carnival has changed through the years since its inception, with new attractions each year. There are now even spas where visitors can relax in saunas and hot tubs, and new for this year, a hot water pool. Adults will enjoy the nightlife, with dancing and restaurants. There is also sightseeing and shopping indoors, as well as a variety of restaurants all offering an opportunity for visitors to come in out of the cold. 

Fundraising activities offer the opportunity for visitors to win prizes. Purchase a Carnival candle from January 13 to January 22, 2012, and if you see colored wax as it melts, you are a winner! Also, effigies of the famous Bonhomme are sold as a pass to most of the carnival events. They can be purchased individually, or in packages of four - offering savings for families. With the effigy, most events and sights are free. 

Many hotels offer packages for this event, and several options can be located at It would be wise to book early, as this event is world-renowned and hotels fill fast. 

Travel agents can purchase Winter Experience Passports, which include effigies, a sash and program guide by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For more information about the Quebec Winter Carnival, visit 

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