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With an average daily high of about 22°F in December and January, visiting Quebec City in winter may not be at the top of people’s travel bucket lists. Summer or autumn weather may be far more pleasant. But there is a certain increased charm to Quebec City when it is covered in snow. Here are 5 reasons you should visit Quebec in winter:
- The Quebec Winter Carnival – The carnival is both a local celebration and a driver of tourism in Quebec. It typically lasts for about 2 weeks each winter and offers a HUGE array of activities. Whether it is snow sculpture, an ice slide, or making maple candy with your kids, there is plenty for everyone. Activities are located in several different locations in and near the old city. Not visiting during the carnival? You can still enjoy the toboggan run at Terrasse Dufferin.
- Hôtel de Glace – More a work of art than a hotel, the Hôtel de Glace is enchanting. The original opened in 2001, and this marks the 17th consecutive year the hotel has been in operation. Located a few miles north of Quebec City, the hotel is constructed entirely new every winter and opens each January.
- Christmas in the old city – Old Quebec is a gem. It’s like a tiny piece of Europe transported to North America. During the Christmas season, the old city is charming. Whether you are in the upper city near St. John’s gate or in Basse Ville near the river, wandering the shops and snowy streets is immensely enjoyable. My wife and I spent our whole first day in Quebec exploring the old city. Lunch was at a wonderful cafe in the lower town. Towering over everything is the magnificent Chateau Frontenac, a Fairmont Hotel.
- Montmorency Falls Park – Montmorency Falls are amazing any time of year, but winter is certainly a special time to visit. The falls are mostly frozen, and visitors can see the “sugar loaf” of piled up ice and snow at the bottom. Most of the park activities in the winter are still open, including a cable car, zipline, and suspension bridge. You can even enjoy a winter-only activity: ice climbing the 275-foot falls.
- Skiing at Mont-Sainte-Anne – Only 30 minutes from Quebec City is the Mont-Sainte-Anne ski resort. While it may not offer the same thrill as Snowbird, Whistler or Vail, the experience at Mont-Sainte-Anne is not to be overlooked. My wife and I spent a day skiing as part of our trip to Quebe City in January 2016. The day was beautifully clear, and we enjoyed spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River and Île d’Orléans. Since she hadn’t skied in a while, my wife spent a couple hours learning from a patient, helpful instructor. As it would turn out, she remained deathly afraid of skiing and spent the rest of the day on the bunny slope. I headed up the lift the to enjoy the beginner runs and view. Skiing Monte-Sainte-Anne is also a deal. An all day lift ticket and ski rental runs ~$82 USD total. I don’t know what premier skiing costs these days, but it is certainly far more than that!
So…consider packing your suitcase full of winter gear and booking a ticket to Quebec City. You’ll not be disappointed. It may be a bit late to plan a trip this year, but you can certainly visit Quebec in winter 2018.
My wife and I enjoyed 4 full days in Quebec City when we visited a the beginning of 2016, and it is one of our most memorable trips. If you are considering the destination, I also have 2 great restaurant recommendations.
Hotel de Glace photo courtesy of Matias Garabedian under CC 2.0 license.