Winter Wonderland – Carnaval de Québec
In my previous post, I had mentioned my summer in Quebec and how I fell in love with it. Well even after a summer in Quebec City, I didn’t have enough, so in the Winter, I returned for the Carnaval de Québec, a 2-week Winter Wonderland festival with Bonhomme, the happy snowman mascot running around to spread carnival joy. If you’re thinking about going (and I highly suggest that you do), here are some of my tips and tricks of where to stay and how to get there.
1. Book in advance & Logistics
Although my friend and I had decided weeks in advance to go, we refrained from booking anything because some additional friends were on the fence. By the time we got around to looking at housing, most places had booked up or were really expensive due to the time of year. We luckily found a very nice AirBnB but because it was last minute, it was in Levi (the city across the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City), we had to drive into the city and find parking and that took more time. I highly suggest booking something a little bit closer to the city.
A full Carnaval pass is $50 so it’s not too expensive and you can buy when you’re there. There’s also a full program of all events happening every day so you can plan your days accordingly, especially if you choose to stay in a place further away to save money. Choose which days you want to stay around for the late events, and have a late morning so you don’t over-exhaust (and freeze) yourself.
2. Bring Warmers
Quebec is cold. And people always underestimate it unless you’re from Eastern Canada but it’s really cold. It’s “warmer” during the day but is can be below -20 degrees pack a lot of layers. There are also long line ups for things (can’t really avoid it) but you can offset this with other events that don’t have line ups at peak times- like the snow sculpture contest. It’s almost all outside though, so just be prepared to stay warm.
3. Ice Slides, Ferris Wheels, Ice Castles and more!
There is literally a million things to do, but these were my favourites. It varies from year to year, but these events really brought out the child in me.
4. Hotel de Glace
While you’re there, also remember that there is more to Quebec in the winter than just the festival. For 3 months a year, the Hotel de Glace (or “Ice Hotel”) is built about one hour west of Quebec City at 1860 Boulevard Valcartier. Yes only 3 months, they create and destroy the entire hotel, so if you’re in the area – definitely take the opportunity to go! And for min $300/night you can also stay there. But if you’re like us, and were on a budget, you can also just do a tour for $16. You do get to go into many of the rooms and there are more than enough displays to get you’re money’s worth. And there’s even a disco club and drinks if you need to warm up through dance!
5. Montmorency Falls
And to the East (how convenient, huh) is Montmorency Falls. Only about 20 minutes outside the city is one of the largest waterfalls in Canada. Although not nearly as large as Niagara Falls, at 84 meters – it’s still quite spectacular sight. But unlike Niagara it’s not just the waterfall, it’s a national park as well and you can get extremely close. To see something so large, frozen in time is an incredible sight. And of course I had to get a better view so I climbed on top of an icy hill, and even though no one would come with me – it was still worth it!
Anyways, I hope you enjoy Quebec as much as I did!