Quebec City winter carnival promises frozen fun
THE weather outside may be frightful but that’s never stopped the Quebec City winter carnival, which is getting ready to stage its 61st edition in the coming weeks.
This year, more than 200 activities are scheduled to take place throughout the city Jan. 30 to Feb. 15.
Carnival director Jean Pelletier points out that despite some patches of bad weather over the decades, the festival has gone ahead as planned every year.
“Two years ago we had to postpone the opening ceremonies because of a snowstorm and, here and there, we had to close for a day because of rain,” he said in a recent interview. “But the carnival has never been cancelled.”
The frosty festival, with its trademark “Bonhomme Carnaval” mascot and colourful ice palace, was originally created to bring a little light into the hearts of local residents during the winter season.
But it’s carved out a reputation as one of the world’s leading winter festivals, attracting more than 520,000 visitors last year.
“Most of the visitors are from the province of Quebec, but outside tourists are from the rest of Canada, the eastern part of the United States, Mexico and Europe,” Pelletier said.
He noted that many of the events, like the traditional canoe race and horsedrawn sleigh races, are free.
This year, for the first time, the carnival hosts the World Winter Masters games — the snowshoe world cup — which will feature top male and female athletes.
Hockey Canada’s Centennial Tour, which will also be at the carnival, will give visitors a chance to test their skills on a synthetic ice rink.
Again this year, a delegation from Calgary will prepare a breakfast of flapjacks, sausages and coffee at no charge. There’s even a mechanical bull for the more daring.
The western-style breakfast will take place on Feb. 7 — the second weekend of the carnival — which will also be the date for the first of two night parades.
Pelletier said it’s probably the best time to drop by because the carnival will be in full swing.
But in order to visit the main festival site — a huge winter playground on the