That's Canadians for you... Any excuse to drink!
Winter Carnaval has been celebrated in Quebec for more than a century. Each year for 17 days in early February more than 1 MILLION people descend upon the city to take part in the revelry! (So make your reservations early!)
It's important to buy an "effigy" as soon as you arrive. You can get them in every store or from street vendors. The "effigy" which changes each year is a small rubber image of Bonhomme (no one really know what he is, probably just a big friendly snowman). They're usually about $6, and not only do they make great souveniers, they get you free stuff on different days.
There's no way I can tell you everything that goes on. They don't even list everything on their website. Following are a few highlights:
THE CANOE RACE. This is the most famous event at Carnaval, where brave men in primitive canoes plunge into the icy St. Lawrence River in a race to the other side. They must leap into icebergs and portage their canoes to the other side, often falling into the frigid waters. It's really exciting.
INTERNATIONAL SNOW SCULPTURE CONTEST. Teams from countries all over the world compete and you can watch while they carve for several days. Some pictures below.
SNOW ACTIVITIES. From Snow Rafting to sledding to ice skating to ice climbing, it's all here, and either cheap, or FREE with your effigy.
ICE CASTLE. Each year, right outside the city walls at Grand Allee, they build a huge ice palace. This thing is GORGEOUS! And after dark at 30 minute intervals, a sound and light show occurs. This ain't no cheesy show, either. Each time I see it, it TAKES MY BREATH AWAY with fire breathing dragons, laser images projected on curtains of falling water, THE WORKS!
CARIBOU. This devilish mixture of whiskey and wine served HOT inside a hollowed out cane is responsible for the drunken street revelries that take place on weekend nights. Many a young man has stripped naked and gone "swimming in the snow" from the effects of this fluid. BEWARE!
NIGHT PARADES. These usually happen on weekends, when there are huge lighted floats and Bonhomme appears and does his little dance.
THE SLIDE. Each year the Chateau Frontenac (that giant castle at the highest point in city) puts up an ice slide on the Dufferin Terrace. Some days it's free with your effigy to plummet down the old slide. Scary!
These are just a few of the many things that go on. Your best resource will be the hostel, but you can check their website at:
Results 1-3of 3 Reviews
by Lady Caet
Quispamsis, New Brunswick
April 9, 2004
The whole thing must take weeks to set up and organize. Throughout the whole thing, I felt like I was watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, except that I was standing on a street corner.
The streets were blocked off by metal gating, and policemen were patrolling the area.
The floats are massive and huge, and you don't really get any of the small-town walkers… most are really involved with their floats.
The crowds are massive; that is the only issue I had with the parade. Getting there was easy, but getting back was harder. It's very easy to get lost, and if you are bringing children, lawn chairs or defining a specific area is a good plan.
Also important to note is that many of the locals use this parade as a kickoff to the carnival, and it is tradition to drink "boisson carnival" from the Bonhomme tube. This means that by the end, many locals are stumbling home, and may be frightening or insulting to some people. The crowds in the streets after the parade are phenomenal, and it is very easy to lose your group.
All in all, the parade is definitely worth seeing, but try and find a place to watch where there is not much traffic, and where you are close to your vehicle or hotel.
From journal Bonhomme Carnaval, my guide to Quebec City
by Ben the Grate
March 1, 2002
From journal Carnaval - Mardi Gras in the snow!
December 2, 2001
This event is held from Feburay 1st to the 17th, one of the most beautifull seasons to visit Quebec under a beautifull white balnket
From journal Quebec, The beautifull