The Quebec Winter Carnival

The Quebec Winter Carnival held annually in Quebec City in collaboration with Loto-Quebec has been in existence for over 60 years. It takes place from late January to mid-February each year. The people of New France created a boisterous annual celebration just before Lent of eating, drinking and merrymaking. This led to the creation of the annual winter celebration intended to create a social and tourist event that would, in turn, give Quebecers something to be proud of and stimulate the economy.

Over the years it has gained international fame through its 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 the Carnival events.

Over the years the Carnival has added and enriched its activities. The Quebec Winter Carnival has become the largest winter carnival in the world today, ranking third on the List of Major Carnivals after the famous Rio and New Orleans carnivals.

Bonhomme Arrow Sash

The red suits, the arrowhead sash, a sip of “caribou”, various tests of strength and skill, and the image of Bonhomme go back to the origins of the Quebec Winter Carnival, some even further.

The arrowhead sash used as a belt to tie jackets during the 19th century to prevent colds has remained a symbol in Quebec society thanks to the Quebec Carnival. Both a practical and fashionable accessory, the red hat and belt, tied directly to Quebec folklore, are the main elements of Bonhomme’s attire.


Long red trumpets are blown through the parade circuits to encourage people to move and dance to keep warm. Dress in red, tie your belt and hold on to your hat and party on 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 in jest to imprison carnival goers who refused to honor Bonhomme.

The Carnival kingdom palace is a massive structure that takes about 2 months to build with snow bricks and is then enhanced with light displays and special effects. The palace is the focal point for many of the Carnival activities.

ice canoe racing

The ice canoe race that has been taking place since the beginning of the festival has several brave teams competing in a tumultuous ride along the St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Lévis.

Now you can go from spectator to canoeist, allowing you to experience a downtown ice canoe ride, where you’ll float and paddle down the St. Lawrence River with the ice crackling at your feet. A unique experience that you cannot miss.

snow sculptures

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 Carnival. In 1973, the Quebec International Snow Sculpture Competition was officially launched. 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 Quebec Carnival Night Parades 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.


The Caribou is an energy drink created by Ti-Père, a business in Old Québec.

Carnival Queens and Duchesses

Each year, after a long process to qualify, 7 duchesses are chosen to represent the 7 sectors of the Quebec region. Many tasks are assigned to them and they must not forget that they are first and foremost Ambassadors of the Carnival.

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 anxiously await the Queen’s coronation. Over the years, more than 12,000 women have applied to become a duchess.

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