The Quebec Winter Carnival, held annually in Quebec City in collaboration with Loto-Québec, has existed for more than 60 years. It takes place from the end of January to the middle of February of each year. The people of New France created a raucous annual celebration just before Lent to eat, drink, and party. This led to the launch of the annual winter celebration aimed at creating a social and tourist event that in turn would give Quebecers something to be proud of and stimulate the economy.
Over the years, he has gained international fame through his renowned key figure, Bonhomme Carnaval, a living replica of a snowman. Created for the first festival in 1955, it enchants local children and has become an ambassador for all Carnival visitors. Bonhomme wears the traditional red hat and belt and appears during all Carnival events.
Throughout the years, the Carnival has been adding and enriching its activities. The Québec Winter Carnival has now become the largest winter carnival in the world and ranks third on the Best Carnivals List after the famous Rio and New Orleans carnivals.
Bonhomme’s Sash of Arrows
The red costumes, the arrowhead sash, a sip of “caribou”, various tests of strength and skill, and the image of Bonhomme all date back to the origins of the Quebec Winter Carnival, some even further afield.
The arrowhead sash used as a belt to tie jackets during the 19th century to prevent the cold has remained a symbol in Québec society thanks to the Quebec Carnival. A practical and fashionable accessory, the belt and the red hat, linked directly to Québec folklore, are the main elements of Bonhomme’s outfit.
Long red trumpets play the parade circuits to encourage people to move and dance to keep warm. Wear red, tie your belt, strap on your hat, and party in Quebec City.
The ice castle
In 1955 a magical ice palace was built for Bonhomme, this impressive ice construction even included a dungeon that was used jokingly to imprison Carnival goers who refused to honor Bonhomme.
The Carnival Kingdom Palace is a huge structure that takes around 2 months to build out of snow bricks and then is enhanced with displays of lights and special effects. The palace is the focal point of many of the Carnival activities.
Ice canoe racing
The ice canoe race that has been held since the beginning of the festival has several brave teams competing on a tumultuous journey along the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Lévis.
Now you can jump from spectator to canoeist, allowing you to experience a canoe ride through downtown, where you will float and paddle on the St. Lawrence River with the ice crunching at your feet. A unique experience not to be missed.
Sculptors from around the world turn Place Desjardins and Place Loto-Québec into a giant open-air museum of snow sculptures. Snow sculpture has become one of the key activities of the Carnival. In 1973, the Quebec International Snow Sculpture Competition was officially opened. Today, the International Snow Sculpture Competition has become a prestigious event and the oldest snow sculpture competition in the world.
Carnival night parades
The two night parades of the Quebec Carnival have become popular events over the years. They take place during the second and third weekend of Carnival. Thousands of spectators come to celebrate and enjoy these unique events.
Caribou is a fighting drink created by Ti-Père, a company in Old Quebec.
Carnival queens and duchesses
Every year, after a long qualification process, 7 duchesses are chosen to represent the 7 sectors of the Quebec region. They are assigned many tasks and it must not be forgotten that they are first and foremost Carnival Ambassadors.
At the beginning of the Carnival, a Queen is chosen through a program based on the number of candles sold in the different areas of the city. All the participants eagerly await the coronation of the Queen. Over the years, more than 12,000 women have applied to become duchesses.