Bundle up and head into the great outdoors this winter to celebrate the chill at the Carnaval de Québec, the biggest and best winter fest in the world. Celebrated annually since 1984, this fab carnival takes place during the days leading up to Fat Tuesday, and promises two weeks of fun, family-centered events. Although it’s cold outside, you’ll be welcomed into the warm, friendly, and festive ambiance. 

Start planning now—and be sure to include these six fun features of the Québec Winter Carnival in your itinerary.

Spectacular Parades

Both night-time and daytime parades wind through the upper city of old Québec, which is decorated with colorful lights and elaborate ice sculptures. Bundle up and be prepared to be amazed by the sound, lights, and color of these magical winter pageants. 

Ice Castles

Every year, a magical ice palace is built especially for the carnival. If you have a child in love with all things Frozen, this is his or her chance to see a real life ice castle that rivals Elsa’s icy palace!

Outdoor Sporting Events

You’ll find every winter sport under the sun at the Québec Winter Carnival: snowboarding, ice canoe races, snowshoeing, hockey, and dogsledding. The ice canoe races are especially exciting, as teams make multiple crossings of the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence River.  

International Snow Sculpture Competition

Every year, sculptors from across Canada and around the world compete to create works of art from giant blocks of snow, transforming the city into a wonderful winter wonderland.

Snowbaths

Brave, hearty souls clothed in nothing more than their bathing suits join Bonhomme, the snowman, in  a snow bath. Forget that warm shower, be brave and take a snow bath! 

Bonhomme Carnaval

The Bonhomme Carnaval is the official mascot of the carnival and you’ll find this jolly white snowman wandering the streets of Old Québec throughout the festival. The Plains of Abraham become a true thematic winter park dedicated to the Bonhomme and feature ice tobogganing, dogsled rides, an ice bar, jacuzzis, a Ferris wheel, a sugar shack, and more. 

Dining and Lodging Specials

In honor of the festival, Québec hotels and restaurants offer a ton of dining and lodging perks, so you can make the most of your stay (and keep it affordable!). You’ll find everything from low-price hostels to 5-star hotels, with special events and extras to make your stay extra special, while restaurants  feature special dishes, drinks, and desserts.