This winter we fulfilled a childhood dream to visit Quebec City for Quebec Winter Carnival, or Carnaval de Québec! Luckily you don’t need to be fluent in French to go to this historic city, rich with romance, French architecture, winter festival vibes, and the best poutine you’ll ever have.
Carnival starts the final weekend of January and continues on until the second week of February. This year it ran from January 27 – February 12. Click here to view the 2017 program. We definitely suggest arriving for the first weekend, as the city be less crowded, and you’ll get to see the crowning of the Carnival Queen. The second weekend the city comes alive for Bonhomme’s Parade!
Where to Stay during Quebec Winter Carnival!
There are so many different places for you to stay during your trip to Quebec City for Carnival. Here are some of the most famous, and accessibile near and within the Old Town:
- Fairmont Chateau Frontenac – The iconic chateau sits at the edge of the city, over looking beautiful Rue du Petit-Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. It exudes classic French opulence and hosts several festivities during the Carnival.
- Quebec City Marriott Downtown – Just outside of the Old City battlement walls, this mid-range hotel is perfectly situated right in the middle of all of the Carnival action.
- Les Lofts 1048 – We stayed in this amazing central location within the Old City. You can book single room lofts like ours, or multi-room apartments which is great for groups.
The best thing about Les Loft 1048 was that it had plenty of work spaces, from the dining table, to a desk space upstairs. It was an amazing space during the workweek and the weekend. It was our little paradise during -20℃ weather!
Now you know where you and your partner can stay, work and sleep, it’s now time to hit the streets and get some food, and explore the city during your first weekend at Carnival.
Where to Go in Old City during Your Visit to Carnival!
- Rue Saint Jean was where our loft was located in, and it was surrounded by breakfast places, convenience stores and great shopping. It’s within Old City, which means almost everything is within a 10 minute walk.
- Chateau Frontenac is an absolute marvel, and a must-see while you’re in Quebec City! During Carnival there’s ice sculpture contests, you can ride a toboggan, and can even view the boat races from the cliff.
- The Funicular is a cute and fun way of getting from the top of the hill where Chateau Frontenac sits to the beautiful Quartier Petit Champlain, also known as The Most Beautiful Street in Canada! It costs $3.00 CAD. This is optional, as there are stairs that connect to Lower Quebec as well – but take the tram down for the beautiful views and time savings!
- Quartier Petit Champlain‘s well deserved reputation is cemented during the winter carnival. The streets are covered in snow, there are massive ice sculptures everywhere, and everything is picturesque.
- It’s now time for the opening ceremony – Head to Parc de L’Esplanade to see Bonhomme Carnaval’s ice castle lit up completely, and see the crowning of the Queen of Carnaval! You can buy your passes, called effigy, here, as well as enter the Bonhomme’s ice castle, buy souvenirs, and have a drink at the chill ice bar!
- Head to Place George-V along the Grand Allée E for a huge Carnival terrace with games, live music, sugar shack treats, and throw an axe or two (Carolina actually got a bullseye!). Along the way you can see amazing monuments to Quebec and Canadian history, past the park, there’s a hub of restaurants, bars, and breweries!
- The next morning you should be famished from all of that walking in -20℃ weather. Head to the most Québécois restaurant ever: La Bûche (The Log). It’s a hip sugar shack themed breakfast spot. There are vegetarian options available – But if you can, get the bacon and definitely save space for the poutine. It made Carolina cry it was so good. A MUST!!
Go Dog Sledding!
There’s so much more to Quebec city than just Carnival and Old Town. Take an amazing adventure through the snowy boreal forest with dog sledding! We chose to go with Chenil La Poursuite because they had a great price on on a 3 hour ride. They also have 1 hour rides if you’re in the area for a shorter trip, as well as overnight expeditions.
Travel Tip: Don’t forget to take turns driving the sled. It’s easy and a totally different experience!
Go Tubing and Visit the Ice Hotel at Valcartier!
Take a short 30min ride outside of the city and visit Valcartier Resort. Not only can you go tubing on some of the tallest hills in the region, but you can also check out the Ice Hotel. Don’t want to spend $500CAD on a single night stay at the Ice Hotel? No worries – you can tour through each of the suites together and enjoy the snow and ice art inside without having to freeze your butt off at night!