Que­bec City win­ter car­ni­val prom­ises frozen fun

Winnipeg Free Press - Section F - - TRAVEL - By Peter Rakobowchuk

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

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