Each year Quebec holds a 17 day long winter celebration that draws over 500,000 people from all over the place. The festival is essentially celebrating winter and everything that goes along with it in Canada. It started in 1894 and was held on and off for a number of years, and then has been held consistently since 1955. One year there was over one million people in attendance. Here are some of the things you can expect to find there.
Lots of Outdoor Activities
Pretty much the whole festival is outdoors so you will want to plan accordingly when it comes to bundling up. There are tons of activities to do such as dog sledding, snowboarding snowshoeing, riding in sleighs, and even going to dance parties. Some people even decide to take part in an event where they strip down to their bathing suit and see if they can handle hanging out in the cold. There are also outdoor activities like ice fishing over a small fully stocked lake, with the ice holes already cut out. (This means that everyone who tries will be a winner.) You can then get your fish cooked up right there to eat.
The art at the winter carnival is mostly in the form of ice and snow. Artists come from all over the place to create ice and snow sculptures that are truly amazing. There is also an ice castle that is build each year, and visitors can take tour of it with the help of the mascot of the festival named Bonhomme. (Which means “good man.”) Bonhomme is a giant snowman who is extremely popular with children and adults alike. He is known for being pretty mischievous.
One of the biggest draws at the winter carnival in Quebec has to be the parades that are held on each of the weekends. They are filled with floats, bands, singer, etc.
There is a lot of eating and drinking to do at the festival as well. There are public banquets that are held for free where guests can grab some breakfast or lunch. Popular treats include the fried pastry treat referred to as a beaver tail, and the maple taffy which is made by heating up maple syrup and then pouring it into the snow and then wrapping it around a popsicle stick. The most popular beverage of the carnival is the caribou drink, which is usually made from red wine, whisky, and either maple syrup or sugar. The story goes that the original caribou drink was actually made from real caribou blood and whisky.
There are also races and tournaments you can watch, such as the ice canoe race. This takes place on the frozen river and teams race to push their canoes along the fastest.
There are a variety of dance parties held at the carnival as well, some with live DJ’s. There is also a masquerade ball in the grand ballroom of the Château Frontenac that draws over 400 people.