Winter Carnival has been a time-honored tradition in Quebec since 1955. And for good reason: It is unlike any other celebration, a winter wonderland that visitors won’t soon forget. From the Ice Palace and International Snow Sculpture Competition to the night parade through Charlesbourg, Winter Carnival has surprising sights and experiences for everyone.
And there is still time to make it to the 2018 Winter Carnival!
The Carnival officially wraps up on February 11, but when you fly charter, you are not constrained to the big carriers’ schedules. You set the arrival and departure times, and you avoid all the long lines and hassles of commercial flying.
Meaning: you can pack more carnival, less travel, into a long weekend.
Check out our list of Carnival must-sees below, and then call our sales team to schedule a private flight for you and your family.
Customers flying on one of our private charter airplanes will arrive at Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport. Our sales team will arrange transportation to your hotel from the airport. If you have special requests for food or drinks in flight, we are happy to oblige.
When you fly charter, getting there really is part of the fun.
Where to Stay
Hotels go quickly during Carnival time, but we found some that still have availability for the Feb. 3-4 weekend.
Palace Royal is located right in the center of it all in Old Quebec. As a 4-star hotel, Palace Royal is not short on amenities and ambiance. For traveling convenience, there is an indoor parking lot, and for a little relaxation, there is an indoor garden, swimming pool (with hot tub) and palm trees. The hotel also offers massage, a sauna, fitness center, and a popular bar called Le Fou Du Roy.
All guest rooms have exterior views, some with a balcony and/or a view of the gardens. Suites have separate sleeping and sitting areas, plus a kitchenette and work station.
In the heart of Old Quebec, this building dates back to 1870, but Hotel Clarendon’s accommodations are decidedly modern-day. Completely refurbished rooms offer antique furniture, plush linens and all the comforts of home-away-from-home. The onsite jazz bar is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
Most of the rooms have views overlooking Old Quebec. Some rooms overlook a courtyard and gardens. Superior rooms have a separate living space and a desk. The hotel also offers a business center.
Check out the Clarendon’s many packages and special offers for guests, such as the “Bed & Breakfast” deal or “Romance in Old Quebec” package.
A boutique hotel in Quebec City’s historic Old Port and overlooking the St. Lawrence River, Auberge Saint-Antoine offers contemporary amenities in an Old World setting. Services include concierge, a fitness center, spa, valet and car wash, on-site cinema and archaeological tours. For a farm-to-table dining experience, visit the hotel’s restaurant, Chez Muffy, which serves dishes using ingredients from local fishermen and farmers. The restaurant itself is housed in a maritime warehouse from 1822.
Suites at Auberge Saint-Antoine have either Queen of King sized beds, heated floors in the bathroom, a deep-soak tub, and a separate living room with a sofa bed. All have a mini bar and Bose stereo system. Some suites overlook the old city, others have their own terrace overlooking a garden.
Located in Quebec City’s Old Port, this 8-story, century-old building used to house a fruit and fish company. Hotel renovations have retained many of the old features of the original building, but modern accommodations and upgrades mean you will have a comfortable, relaxing stay. The decor is “urban-chic” and minimalist, but it is not short on luxury. Accommodations include a free continental breakfast, 24-hour gym access, an espresso bar and a terrace.
Le Germain is pet friendly.
The largest of the Le Germain rooms, The Prestige, has a King bed, reading area and separate bath and shower. All rooms come with goose down comforters, Bose stereo systems, mini-bar, cotton bathrobes, and HD TVs. Some rooms have Rainfall Showers.
Things to See & Do
First things first: In order to participate in most of the Winter Carnival activities, you need to buy a pass, called an Effigy. The Effigy has been the Carnival’s primary source of funding since 1955. Worn as a pendant on your coat, the Effigy is created in the likeness of Bonhomme, the Carnival’s snowman host.
Everyone 8 years and older must have on an Effigy to enter most of the activities.
You can purchase an Effigy at Couche-Tard locations in Quebec City, the Carnival Shop, and at many entrances to activities throughout the Carnival. Wearing your Effigy to participating restaurants and stores also gives you access to discounts.
Yes, it’s a hotel made entirely of ice. In fact, it’s the only one in North America. Each winter, Hotel De Glace is completely redesigned and built from the ground up out of ice. Even if you don’t want to sleep here, you should still go take a tour… and lots of photos.
There are several tours available for those not inclined to stay at the hotel. The Cocktail Package includes a full tour of the hotel, plus cocktails served in ice glasses. The Behind the Scene tour includes information about how the hotel is built and maintained. You can visit the ice workshop and make your own ice glass. Then end your visit at the Ice Bar for cocktails.
On February 3, the streets of the Quebec suburb of Charlesbourg will light up with the Charlesbourg Night Parade. This annual parade to celebrate the end of the Winter Carnival is so popular that it is actually split into two events, one in Charlesbourg and one through the streets of Quebec City.
In the parade you will see lit-up floats, marching bands, dance troupes, and, of course, Bonhomme, the official host of the Winter Carnival.
For the Charlesbourg parade, you can opt for the VIP experience, which includes seats in the VIP stand, a fleece blanket, and free bar service.
VIP spaces are $54.88 each. No Effigy is required, but spaces are limited and go quickly.
Bonhomme makes his home, an ice palace, across the street from the Parliament Building at place de l’Assemblee-Nationale. During the day, the palace is open for tours. This year, muralists will be nearby creating graffiti works for visitors to enjoy.
Come nightfall (after 4 p.m.), the palace turns into Odyss, Land of Ice, where, according to the visitor’s center, “visitors share in a new form of entertainment where they play a part in how the adventure unfolds. In this immersive and interactive experience that promotes participation, visitors are part of the game.”
Near Bonhomme’s Ice Palace and the center of Carnival action, a 300-foot slide, made entirely of ice, awaits. Visitors can rent sleds at the Grande Allee (in front of the Parliament building) section of the Carnival.
For the more adventurous: at the Dufferin Terrace, overlooking the St. Lawrence River and the Chateau Frontenac, you can go downhill on a toboggan moving at speeds up to 70km/hour. Nearby, you can visit igloos, maple taffy kiosks, and storytelling around a fire.
No Effigy is required for the Dufferin slides, but tickets can be purchased at the Au 1884 Kiosk.
The slide is open Monday – Thursday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
If you’ve ever wondered how they make ice palaces and hotels like those featured at the Winter Carnival, you’ll want to buy tickets for the Ice Sculpture Workshop at the Loto-Quebec Zone. Led by Marc Lepire, the chief sculptor of Bonhomme’s castle, you and 1-3 other participants will receive a block of ice, tools, and instructions for how to create your own masterpiece.
All-you-can-drink hot chocolate is provided.
For 46 years, this annual contest has drawn sculptors from all over the world to Quebec for the Winter Carnival. Happening at Place George-V, the contest is ongoing throughout the Carnival and free to the public.
For 2018, the all-night sculpture fest for the International Category will take place from February 3 at 11 p.m. to February 4 a 9 a.m.
The public can vote on their favorite sculpture on Feb. 4 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Where to Eat
Located in one of the oldest houses in Quebec City (it dates back to 1675), Aux Anciens Canadiens has been a popular spot for tourists since 1966. The menu offers gourmet Quebec fare with a classy and upscale ambiance.
Menu items include Quebec Meat Pie, Poutine (homemade French fries with gravy and cheese), Lobster Bisque, Braised Quebec Lamb, Beef Wellington, Salmon Fillet, and Maple Syrup Pie.
Ciel! is located on the roof top of the Hotel Le Concorde, just outside Old Quebec’s walls. The floor-to-ceiling windows of the round room overlook Old Quebec and the St. Lawrence River. While you dine, the room gently moves, eventually giving you a 360-degree view of the area.
Menu items include Sauteed Shrimp, Confit Sweetbreads, Organic Chicken Ballotine, Beef Cannelloni, Roasted Cod, Deer Shank Stew and Fish of the Day.
Reservations are strongly encouraged for this popular restaurant.
Legende was voted one of Canada’s best new restaurants in 2014, and it has continued to acquire a loyal following ever since. The ambiance is intimate and upscale, and the menu features many popular, seasonal dishes and a full bar and wine list.
Because ingredients change based on the season, so does the menu. All portions are smaller, however, to allow diners to choose 2-3 dishes and discover different tastes and flavors.
No trip to Quebec is complete without a visit to a crepery.
Located in the middle of Old Quebec, Casse-Crepe Breton offers homemade crepes in a cozy, friendly setting. All items can be paired with house wine, local beers, specialty coffees or juice.
For a savory treat, you can create your own crepes by choosing from a list of meats (ham, pepperoni, sausage, etc.), vegetables (spinach, green pepper, asparagus, etc.) and cheeses (mozzarella, Swiss, cream cheese). Sauces include Bechamel, tomato or maple syrup.
For dessert crepes, choose from fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and other fruits. Mix with chestnut filling, butter and sugar, chocolate or maple syrup, and pair with ice cream.
Contact us today and let us help you plan a trip to the Winter Carnival in Quebec. We operate our own fleet and can source any size aircraft from an extensive domestic and international user network, which gives you total flexibility.