January 20, 2014
The French settlers who made it through their first winter in New France more than 400 years ago – and only nine out of 28 did “”were tough. Today, Quebecers still don’t let the cold stop them from getting outside. And having fun while they’re at it. Of course the Caribou helps – the Canadian-style mulled wine mixed with maple syrup, not the animal. So, wrap up warm and enjoy some of these classic Quebec City winter activities.
It’s definitely best to be a spectator in this crazy sport that has teams pushing and paddling their way through the icy slush of the partially frozen St. Lawrence River. Originally created as a way in which to bring supplies into the outpost, it’s now considered the most demanding sporting event of the city’s annual Winter Carnaval.
Carnaval, like Mardi Gras, originated as a pre-lent celebration that has now morphed into a huge, city-wide party which takes place the first three weekends in February. During the day, choose any of the numerous outdoor adventures, such as snow tubing or sledding. Or just admire the elaborate ice sculptures, and a 400-year-old city that’s even prettier blanketed with snow.
At night, the Bonhomme Ice Palace transforms into an outdoor nightclub. Fire pits and, of course, the Caribou keep you warm. But if dancing indoors is a tad more appealing, the indoor clubs along the famous Grande Allee are also in full swing during Carnaval.
This race has participants cycling and running (in the snow), cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and skating. If you’re strong enough, or crazy enough, you can register to take part. Alternatively, rent some equipment, and snow-shoe or ski along the park’s paths, or skate at the new outdoor rink. The views of the St. Lawrence and the Old Port are fabulous at this popular local park, located high above the city.
Speaking of views, one of the best in the city is on top of Les Glissades de la terrace, a toboggan run on the Dufferin Terrace, the boardwalk in front the landmark Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. You may be a little too nervous to appreciate it, however, if you’re just about to career down 150 metres at approximately 80km per hour. This iconic attraction has been thrilling visitors since the late 1900s, and the image can be seen on many Canadian vintage postcards. Whether you slide down or just watch other people do it, treat yourself to a beavertail, (sweetened fried dough), as you take a stroll along this grand boardwalk.
If your days are filled with snow and ice, why not the nights as well? Quebec’s ice hotel, HÃ´tel de Glace, is constructed each year from 500 tons of ice, has 36 rooms, outdoor hot tubs and sauna, and trails for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. If sleeping on deerskin-covered ice mattresses is an experience you’d rather miss, you can always take a tour of the frozen hotel, and admire the ice sculptures and chapel.
While you’re there indulge in a beverage from a glass made of ice while standing at bar also made of ice, and toast to the winter.
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Which of these Canadian winter activities takes your fancy? Have you tried your hand at any of them already? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Written by Jennifer Merrick