Beautiful, historic and charming, Quebec City feels especially romantic and playful in winter. One of the world’s snowiest cities, it revels in an average annual snowfall of around three metres—providing the perfect setting for one of North America’s biggest parties.

Carnaval de Québec, started in 1955, is Canada’s most famous winter festival. Every January, Bonhomme, a seven-foot-tall snowman, blows in from the North Pole and presides over the 17-day extravaganza.

“He’s bigger than Santa Claus here,” says Paule Bergeron, a winter enthusiast who works with Quebec City Tourism. She particularly loves Carnaval’s night parades. “[They’re] very dynamic. You dance in a big crowd. People are in the streets, wearing their best winter clothes and boots.” Partiers carry hollow canes filled with caribou, a fortified red wine, and families pull kids bundled in toboggans.

More things to do in Quebec City this winter

Play outside 

Skate in the heart of the old city at Place d’Youville or cross-country ski, snowshoe or skate on the historic Plains of Abraham. Downhill ski or snowmobile at one of four ski resorts less than 30 minutes away.

Stay at Hôtel de Glace

Made entirely of snow and ice, the hotel has 44 rooms, an ice bar with ice cocktail “glasses” and an ice slide. The outdoor spa and sauna deliver the ultimate in Nordic living.

Visit the Petit-Champlain district

Walk the magical Petit-Champlain district, sparkling with lights and wintry decorations. It’s home to Place Royale, the cradle of French settlement in North America, circa 1608. Warm up with Quebecois specialties at cozy Le Lapin Sauté.

Read more: The Best Winter Cities in Canada 


[This story appears in the November 2017 issue of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated]