Carnaval de Quebec 2021 kicks off in the midst of one of the coldest times in Canada—the end of January and start of February, when sub-zero temperatures hit with a bite. Almost aligned with the Winterlude Festival in Ottawa, celebrations in the deep freeze draw a surprising number of people. The family-friendly event happens in historic Quebec City and features fun for all ages including snow slides, snow baths, ice and snow sculptures, skating, night parades, special shows and events, and the quintessential Canadian sleigh rides.
Carnaval de Quebec History and Facts
Carnaval in Quebec City, otherwise known as the Quebec Winter Carnival, dates back to more than a century ago but it wasn’t until 1955 that the festival ran every year without fail. The winter carnival began as a pre-Lent celebration, when residents of New France, now known as Quebec, came together in long-standing tradition to celebrate with food, drink, and festivities. Today, Carnaval de Quebec is the largest of any winter festivals in the world and one of the most famous in the province alongside the ever-growing Montreal Grand Prix.
Within the enormous playground, called The Plains of Abraham, there are countless activities and shows, sculptures, snow rafting, zip lines, a sugar shack, and the famous Bonhomme Ice Palace, homage to the carnival’s guest of honor and ambassador of the festivities, a magical snowman charming children in French lore for centuries. Other top features include both opening and closing carnival events, a masquerade ball, sporting races (canoes on ice, dog-sledding, snowboarding, and snowshoeing), international snow sculpting competitions, and numerous free public banquets for breakfasts and lunches.
Tickets to Carnaval de Quebec
Tickets to Carnaval de Quebec 2021 are available from various locations throughout Quebec City as well as local kiosks. Individual tickets are priced reasonably and offer entry to most all events happening during the Quebec Winter Carnival. There are a handful of activities and events that will cost extra if you choose to see them.
Directions to Carnaval de Quebec
Driving to Carnaval de Quebec 2021 along Highway 20, also locally named Jean-Lesage autoroute, the road meanders alongside the beautiful southern shores of the St Lawrence River. Heading toward Quebec City from the northern shore, visitors should follow Highway 40, or Félix-Leclerc autoroute. Jean-Lesage International Airport is a short ten miles from the city center for those flying in. The airport connects to Wilfrid-Hamel Boulevard, Duplessis autoroute, or Highway 40 straight into the center.
Lodging near Carnaval de Quebec
If staying in Quebec City, be sure to book well before the festivities kick off as the city gets very congested. Within Old Town, there are still many nineteenth-century buildings to admire and tons of standard tourist spots to explore. Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac, Clarendon, and Hotel Du Vieux-Quebec are only a few of the many historic hotels to choose between, each offering a taste of Europe within Canada.
Besides Quebec hotels, there are hostels, bed and breakfasts, mid-range hotels, and even an Ice Hotel if you can bear the temperature. Many that visit during the Quebec Winter Carnival 2021 choose to stay in Montreal and drive the two-plus hours southwest to Quebec City. Staying near the Old Port in Montreal offers the best access to Montreal’s top attractions.