Seven Things to Do in Quebec City This Winter

Attend the world’s largest winter festival, go ice canoeing on the river, shop at a holiday market and eat at a sugar shack. Here’s how to embrace the season in one of Canada’s prettiest winter cities.
 

A hot chocolate break with Quebec Ice Canoeing

Attend the largest winter carnival in the world

All winter long in Quebec City, you can find family-friendly festivals celebrating the coldest season of the year, including the Carnaval de Québec (January 26 to February 11). It’s the largest winter carnival in the world with more than 200 activities. It has an international snow sculpture competition, night parades and a 300-tonne ice palace.

Walk through a forest of lights

Photograph courtesy of Festi Lumière.

On select nights from December 26 to March 10, walk outside through a forest of more than 500,000 colourful LED lights in the shapes of animals at Festi Lumière. It’s part of the Aquarium du Québec and the festival also has real-life sea creatures, fire pits, inflatable games and snow tubing.

Shop the Christmas markets

Originating in Europe, these charming markets are perfect for picking up gifts and snacks.

The German Christmas Market runs for a month starting November 23 at Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville. Browse the wooden stalls for sculptures and handwoven sweaters then feast on bratwurst and strudel.

For more local flavour, try the Christmas Market at Marché du Vieux-Port from November 23 to December 31. You’ll find Quebec-made gifts such as wreaths and jewelry, plus classic treats like poutine and beignets.

Go ice canoeing and tobogganing

Photograph courtesy of Quebec Ice Canoeing.

With more than 400 centimetres of annual snowfall, Ville de Québec is truly an outdoor winter wonderland. It’s also the only place in the world where visitors can try ice canoeing. From the end of December to the beginning of April, book an excursion with Quebec Ice Canoeing. Boats of five people, including two or three instructors, go on the St. Lawrence River for a one-hour experience that involves rowing in changing tides and pushing the boat across giant ice slabs floating on the river. A hot chocolate half-time break while floating on the ice slabs and GoPro footage are included in the price of $185 per person.

Back on dry land, hurtle down a century-old toboggan slide at Dufferin Terrace. You’ll hit speeds of 70 km/h. The slide is open from mid-December until mid-March. Each slide costs $3.

Visit a sugar shack

Sample regional fare and enjoy sleigh rides at these year-round Quebec City-area cabins.

Head 25 minutes southwest of the city to Érablière le Chemin du Roy. Take a tour to learn how this nearly 100-year-old shack makes its maple syrup and try the iconic maple taffy on snow.

Le Relais des Pins is located on Île d’Orléans, also about 25 minutes from the city. It serves traditional sugar shack food like pea soup, pancakes, meat pies, baked beans, pork rinds and sugar pie. Listen to the traditional Québécois music and shop the boutique for maple treats.

Go where it is always 30°C

Bora Park at Valcartier Vacation Village is an indoor waterpark that’s kept at a balmy 30°C all year. Hit the wave pool, learn to surf, careen down one of 15 water slides or just relax under a palm tree.

Enjoy a bowl of hot chocolate

One of the best parts of winter is getting cozy after coming in from the cold. To warm up your insides, head to Érico for a bowl—yes, a bowl—of hot chocolate. The chocolatier’s menu has 10 varieties of chocolat chaud including a 19th-century-inspired European blend of cocoa and bitter-sweet chocolate with vanilla and cinnamon.

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