Province/Territory: Quebec

Celebrate the coolest mardi gras of all

  • 17 days of non-stop festivities making up the world's largest winter celebration
  • 360 tons of ice used for carving
  • 30 International Snow Sculpture Event teams

Get a furry bear hug from Bonhomme, the jolly mascot of the world's biggest winter festival. Feel the excitement as canoes race across the ice-choked St. Lawrence River and back. Watch artists compete in creating giant, fantastical snow sculptures. Stare in wonder as a dogsled race winds through the narrow, snowy streets of the Old City.

Thrill to a magical Night Parade. Hear the clomping of horse’s hooves on a carriage ride through cobblestone streets. Or on a serene horse-drawn sleigh-ride. Listen to fiddle music to keep warm outside a towering palace made of ice. Smell the sugary aroma of warm maple syrup. Skate in the shadow of the ramparts of the only walled city north of Mexico. Then stroll streets lit by Victorian lamps before dining in a cozy gourmet restaurant on local Quebec cuisine.

Why you should visit
  • Admire intricate sculptures carved out of ice by artists from around the world at the International Ice Sculpture contest.
  • Take in a parade that showcases "Le bonne homme" the winter mascot of Le Carnaval.
  • Zipline high above the historic Plains of Abraham and watch the festivities from a unique angle.
  • Cheer on a canoe race on the half-frozen St. Lawrence River.
  • Ride a traditional dogsled around a track about the size of a large go-cart track.
  • Taste warm maple taffy cooled on a bed of snow at a sugar shack.
  • Buy a traditional Carnaval sash.
  • Take an outdoor “snow bath” by tumbling in snow dressed only in a bathing suit.
  • Stop by one of the many stands that sell "caribou", a Quebec liquor made of fortified wine, alcohol and spices, and served warm.
  • Tie yourself to a giant pole (with your 3 pole partners) and become part of a giant foosball board!
  • Sleep in a hotel made of ice.
  • Warm up with traditional Quebécois winter food like tourtière – meat pie - and a maple sugar pie.

Weather

  • Sub-zero temperatures, windy conditions and nighttime activities mean visitors should bring the proper clothing to enjoy Carnaval. The best advice is to dress in layers, avoid cotton, wear waterproof outerwear and a seriously good pair of boots.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
When to go
  • The festival runs for two weeks from late January to early February.
Need to know
  • Bonhomme short for bonhomme de neige, "snowman", is the official ambassador of the festivities, the castle lord of the Ice Palace.
  • The opening and closing ceremonies takes place at the Ice Palace before thousands of participants.
  • Pick up a Bonhomme effigy tag that gets you into most of the Winter Carnival events.
  • Several bars and restaurants set up a winter patio made of ice sculpting in front of their establishment.
Getting Here