Making the Most of Winter - 6 Unique Experiences in Quebec City.
There’s an old saying, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, and I think it totally applies to winter. Sure, in December it’s still new and festive enough for most people to tolerate, but by the time January rolls around, I am ready for it to be over. And it only gets worse from there. But there are so many fantastic locations in the world to enjoy the cold and snow, and you don't have to travel overseas to do it. Just head north to see our Canadian neighbors! It's hard to narrow down just one location to feature in this vast country, but I'm staying a bit closer to home with this one.
Quebec City is located in eastern Canada and is the capital of Canada's second most populated province. It is the only province to have a predominantly French-speaking population, with French as the sole provincial official language.
Old Québec is famous for its European charm and is the only walled (fortified) city north of Mexico. The entire district, which is best explored on foot, is an amazing mix of architecture, heritage, art and culture. Anytime of the year, this World Unesco Heritage site is like being transported out of North America to Europe and well worth a visit. But winter is when Quebec City really shines, just for the sheer number of outdoor activities alone!
So without further ado, here are my top 6 unique activities that put Quebec City as a top destination to visit in the snow.
1 - Four nearby ski resorts offer exhilarating experiences for skiers of all levels: Mont-Sainte-Anne, Le Massif de Charlevoix, Stoneham Mountain Resort, and Le Relais Centre. Each is equipped with snow making, equipment rentals, a renowned ski school, babysitting service, as well as a ski shop and restaurants. But add in exceptional night skiing, a shuttle to the two closet mountains (Le Relais and Stoneham), and their welcoming laid-back style on and off the slops and it's a perfect day in the snow. Each hill has its own style, but it’s safe to say you’ll enjoy them all.
2 - You may not think of biking as a winter sport, but that's about to change. Fat bikes are mountain bikes outfitted with big, beefy tires to deliver optimal traction. Perfectly suited to riding in the snow, they perform best on packed trails. This makes fat biking an ideal activity for beginner riders and seasoned cyclists alike.
3 - Dog sledding. Quebec is the perfect place to try your hand at this one-of-a-kind activity: there’s no shortage of wide-open spaces and the dogs are in their element! Outings of several hours or guided excursions lasting one to seven days are available in most regions of Quebec. Nights are spent in a tepee, rustic cottage or something a little more upscale.
4 - Toboggan Slide Au 1884 - More than one hundred years old, this sliding area is just steps from the Hotel Château Frontenac on the Dufferin Terrace. Get an adrenaline rush as you dash down one of three toboggan lanes at speeds of up to 70 kilometers an hour. Of course there’s traditional sledding, snow tubing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing nearby as well.
5 - The Ice Hotel, or Hotel de Glace as known in Quebec, opens every year in January and closes in March. This is a one of a kind hotel in North America, and is open for tours, having a drink in the ice bar and even staying in one of the 42 room and themed suites. Hotel de Glace changes its theme every year with ice sculptures, so it’s always a new experience when you visit. And yes, it is cold in there, but don't worry, you can still sleep warm and comfortably! Visitors sleep on a platform of ice with a wood bed spring, a mattress and arctic sleeping bags.
6 - I think I might be saving the best for last with this one. The Winter Carnival, being held this year from February 8 - 17th, is one of the largest winter celebrations anywhere. Each year the carnival entertains with big events, such as parades and outdoor concerts, scheduled on the three weekends. Here's a closer look at some of the offerings:
- The Quebec Winter Carnival showcases some of the most amazing snow sculptures, and visitors have several opportunities to see the sculptures being carved. Not only that, but visitors can try their own hand at sculpting in workshops.
- The Ice Palace - It's the official palace of the ambassador, Bonhomme (who looks like a big snowman). Each year, its appearance is a little different. The location is just a few steps from the Carnival grounds and is open for tours and becomes an entertainment venue at night.
- Everyone loves a parade, and for several years the Quebec Winter Carnival has offered night parades in two locations. You may also find a daytime parade with giant inflatable characters. Opening night of the festivities usually includes fireworks.
- And if you like a good race (especially of a unique nature) check out the dog sled races, sleigh races, or ice canoe races!