I just returned from one of the most memorable weeks of my life – five days in Quebec City, Canada. I highly suggest you make your plans now to visit next year’s Quebec Winter Carnival, or in French, Carnaval de Quebec.
The Carnival’s history dates back to 1894 ,and while much has changed since then, I’m certain the Carnival has only gotten better. This winter event offers endless opportunities to experience this city’s kind people, rich culture and plenty of snow play. Here are a few of my favorite attractions and moments during my visit to this winter wonderland.
1. Bonhomme (meaning: “good man”) is the Carnival’s jolly mascot. You can’t miss this large snowman (minus a carrot nose) adorned in a large red cap, several over-sized buttons running down his front and a ceinture flechee around his waist. (A ceinture flechee is colorful arrow sash and is a Carnival tradition.) If you want to be seen with anyone – Bonhomme is the man.
2. Ice slides, ice sculptures, and the Ice Palace - There are some extremely talented ice/snow sculpturists in the world and you will certainly see some of their amazing creations at Quebec’s Winter Carnival. This photo of “stacked cards” was one of my favorites. The Ice Palace is just that, a palace made of ice, and is the location of the Carnival’s kick-off and closing ceremonies. Don’t forget to zoom down one of the several ice slides – that’s right, slides made of ice (just make sure ski pants are your final layer!).
3. Snow bath – Would you put on your swimsuit, run outside in freezing temperatures then dance and shake your groove thing in front of thousands of spectators? Well, believe it or not, a bunch of people do it every year. If you decide to go for it, watch out for wardrobe malfunctions – remember it’s cold and you may not feel parts of you body slip out of your suit!
4. Snow rafting – The thrill of being pushed down a snow covered hill in a big round yellow raft, spinning uncontrollably is not a memory to soon be forgotten. If fact, I would do it over and over and over again.
5. Caribou - I won’t lie. It’s cold in Quebec during the winter months. But as long as you’re dressed properly (layers, boots, gloves, hat) you shouldn’t have any complaints. Still, everyone gets to the point when it’s time to warm the insides, and there’s no better way than with a little cup of Caribou. This warm beverage is made of brandy, vodka, sherry and port is found at various Carnival sites and on the streets and it’s only a few dollars. Yum, I could go for a taste right about now.
6. Night Parade. Most of the parades I have been to have been wild, bead-catching adventures, but I have to say, the Carnival night parade (there are two parades during the Carnival Season) was absolutely marvelous. The costumes, dancers and floats were top-of-the line gorgeous. I couldn’t take enough photos.