Carnaval de Quebec: Winter Wonderland Celebration

Carnaval de Quebec, a winter wonderland nestled in Quebec City, offers an unforgettable family adventure at an affordable cost. Explore this annual festival, filled with activities and attractions that will captivate visitors of all ages.

Bonhomme is the mascot of the annual Quebec Winter Festival
Bonhomme is the mascot of the annual Quebec Winter Festival, photo c. Carnaval de Quebec

Spanning 10 days, Quebec hosts its annual carnival, or Carnaval de Quebec, from February 2-11, 2024. Be part of a tradition that dates back to 1894, and you’ll see why it’s one of our favorite winter family vacations.

Quebec Carnival is on vast fields above the St. Lawrence River shoreline. Pursue and observe various winter activities on the main grounds and many public squares and venues around Quebec City.

Families are sure to keep themselves occupied for days. Try cross-country skiing along the city’s park trails or sample toddler rides at the outdoor amusement park. This is a chance to ride in a horse-drawn sleigh or dog-sledding across the park grounds. And since the one-time entry badge can be used on all days, Quebec Carnival is great value, too.

1. Dance in Bonhomme’s Illuminated Ice Palace

Each day promises special events. On opening night Le Bonhomme, the iconic snowman ambassador for the winter festival, welcomes guests to his Ice Palace and kicks off the pre-Lenten celebration with a magical show.

The Ice Palace, made of stacked and carved ice blocks, is at place de l’Assemblée-Nationale and it’s one of the festival’s most spectacular sights. Transparent ice bricks shipped in from Montreal (where all the oxygen has been removed prior to manufacture) are arranged according to a different architectural plan each year.

Illuminated by an array of colorful lights, the Ice Palace reverberates fun. Over at Parc de la Francophonie, the evening also heats up at Videotron Bonhomme’s Campground. Enjoy dance music, beer, and sausage pairings — plus try out winter camping to evoke the old Canada of logger days.

Teens will love the Videotron Kart Adventure, the 30-foot ice mountain, and a ball-pit swimming pool in a giant igloo. Besides some evening events and the liberal serving of Caribou, a tasty, alcohol and brandy concoction spiced with cinnamon that’s Quebec’s equivalent of gluhwein served at European Christmas Markets, Carnival is a very child-oriented affair.

2. Cold-weather games & rides along the Esplanade

Things cool off quickly at Quebec Carnaval as families make their way to Bonhomme’s World for activities set up just for them, including ice skating and gentle hockey. Don’t miss a chance to sample chilly treats from snow.

D’erable sur la neige (also called tire sur la neige) is a make-your-own taffy created by rolling a popsicle stick through fresh maple syrup drizzled on a snow-topped table, scooping and rolling as it hardens with the cold. When you realize that Quebec province produces more than 70% of all maple syrup worldwide, you can imagine how selective they are about the ingredients used.

Related activities around town abound, from dog sledding, sleigh rides, skating with Bonhomme, and snow-tubing to curling and ice sculpture workshops. Take a look at this fun video!

3. Compete in extreme sports, snow sculpting & Quebec Carnaval events

Professional snow sculptors work their magic in a major international contest toward the end of Carnival’s run. Families can both appreciate art and participate by touring the sculptures dotted throughout the icy grounds.

A gamut of sporting competitions is scheduled throughout Carnival, but beware, spectators watch from the chilly sidelines. Throughout the festivities, you can observe (or participate in) extreme ice canoe races on the St. Lawrence River, giant ski races, winter yoga, and more. Be sure to check out the size of your fellow players before encouraging younger kids to participate in some of the contact sports.

Back after a Covid hiatus, don’t miss the popular and dazzling Night Parades. Expect the full regalia — floats, lights, dance troupes, music, and Bonhomme leading the way. Families will love the talented, Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatics taking place on many floats.

Quebec Carnaval keeps every family member entertained with a constant program of shows, competitions, races, games, and tasty international food. Hotels fill up fast, so be sure to book in advance.

5. Planning Quebec City & Ice Hotel Stays, Carnaval Details

Rue du Petit Champlain, Quebec City
Quebec’s winter carnival spills over to all the old town streets. Photo c. Ville de Quebec

Make reservations during Quebec Carnaval for tours and many popular ice and snow attractions. Many families enjoy an overnight in the magically white and frosty Ice Hotel — picture a fancy igloo with rooms — which is erected each winter. 
The temporary Ice Hotel outside Quebec is made of 400 tons of ice and 12,000 tons of snow and, unsurprisingly, is not heated. Appropriate outerwear is included in the rates.

If you prefer the cold of the great outdoors, try your hand at weekend winter camping around Bonhomme’s Palace. For more traditional housing, look for family package deals at Hôtel Château Laurier Québec, or check out our guide to many other fantastic family hotels in Quebec City.

A Carnival “effigy” pass, which lets you in to all attractions (but not necessarily the VIP heated venues), costs only CAD$15 in advance or CAD$25 on arrival (though admission to many activities is free). Be sure to check out our suggestions for other fun activities for all ages in Quebec City.

6. Quebec’s Culinary Delights

While enjoying Carnaval de Quebec, don’t forget to savor the local culinary delights. Quebec is renowned for its mouthwatering cuisine, and you can indulge in classic dishes such as poutine, tourtière, and sugar pie. Explore the city’s cozy bistros and eateries to experience the rich flavors of Quebec’s food culture.

7. Cultural Experiences

Quebec City is steeped in history and culture. Take some time to explore the city’s museums, art galleries, and historic sites like Old Quebec. Learn about the region’s French heritage and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene, all within the charming backdrop of a snow-covered city. For advance tickets at the best prices, visit

8. Family-Friendly Accommodations

Finding the perfect place to stay during Carnaval is essential. Besides the Ice Hotel, Quebec City offers many family-friendly accommodations. Many US visitors like the French-owned Accor Hotels with brands to suit every budget, all with a French flair. Consider options like cozy cabins, comfortable bed-and-breakfasts, or well-equipped vacation rentals to make your stay more enjoyable.

 9. Nearby Attractions

While in the Quebec City area, consider venturing to nearby attractions. Explore Montmorency Falls, a magnificent waterfall that’s taller than Niagara Falls. Or take a short drive to the picturesque Mont-Sainte-Anne for skiing, snowboarding, and breathtaking mountain views.

10. Shopping and Souvenirs

Quebec City is a shopper’s paradise, especially during Carnaval. Explore the charming boutiques and shops in Old Quebec, where you can find unique souvenirs like artisanal crafts, locally made maple products, and winter apparel to keep you warm during your adventure.

11. Travel Tips for a Memorable Experience

Consider these travel tips to ensure your visit to Carnaval de Quebec is a success. Learn about the best times to visit, transportation options, and how to maximize your budget. Proper planning can enhance your experience and help you create lasting memories.

12. Eco-Friendly Practices

Quebec is known for its commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices. Discover how Carnaval de Quebec incorporates green initiatives and promotes responsible tourism. Learn about efforts to reduce waste, conserve energy, and protect the beautiful natural surroundings of the festival.

Dress accordingly. Don’t forget, in Quebec City, temperatures get to a minimum of -3º F and don’t generally get higher than 19º F. You can always go into one of the heated, sponsor tents to warm up or have a cocoa. Parents appreciate dropping into the Discovery Pavilion to visit the multimedia Odysee exhibit about Canada’s history, open all year.

To research warmer locales for Carnival fun, check out FTF’s roundup of Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations worldwide.

If this made you want to check out Carnaval de Quebec, consider these great picks below!

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2 Replies to “Carnaval de Quebec: Winter Wonderland Celebration”

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  • Nicaraguan

    Have you ever dreamed of creating your own ice sculpture? The Quebec Winter Carnival has just what you’re looking for! Bring your group to our Ice Sculpture Workshops under the guidance of a team led by none other than Marc Lepire, chief sculptor of Bonhomme’s Ice Palace! During this one-hour event, you will learn the workflow of master sculptors and enjoy the unique experience of carving your own solid ice block with your group of 2 to 4 people. Free all-you-can-drink hot chocolate will keep you warm throughout the frosty fun.

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