A Celebration of Winter at the 57th Carnaval de Québec
In spite of average temperatures ranging from 0°F to 20°F over 750,000 visitors will take to the snow covered streets of Québec City to join in one of the world’s largest and most celebrated winter carnivals. Kicking off this past weekend and running for seventeen days through February 13, 2011, Carnaval de Québec has enough offerings to keep revelers exploring the outdoor carnival grounds from morning to night. For the 57th year, Bonhomme, the jovial ambassador of the Winter Carnival welcomes visitors to the Carnival site and invites them to partake in an extravagant array of activities that combine tradition and innovation.
Situated at Place Loto-Québec (Place de l’Assemblée-Nationale) opposite the Parliament building, Bonhomme’s Ice Palace rises above the winter landscape as if signaling that the Carnival festivities have begun. M. Gaston Fortier has overseen the construction of nearly every Ice Palace since his first in 1958. This year’s creation is constructed from 6,000 individually cut blocks of ice, each specially treated to remove the minerals from the water so that the ice is crystal clear. The Ice Palace is illuminated nightly by a colorful LED display that creates a dazzling backdrop to the outdoor stage located in front of the Palace. Visitors can also tour inside the Palace where they will be lead through a commemoration of six decades of the Carnival’s parades. At the end of each Carnival the Ice Palace is destroyed by cranes until its next reincarnation the following winter.
The pulse of the Carnival lies at Place Desjardins (Plaines d’Abraham), which has been transformed into an enormous outdoor playground. Topping the list of not-to-be missed activities are the Loto-Québec Ferris Wheel, a fifteen-basket outdoor ferris wheel providing sweeping views over the heart of the Carnival’s activities, Natrel’s Great Ice Slide, a 120 meter ride down an ice chute, the WestJet zipline, which sends those fearless enough to try it 500 feet through the air across Place Desjardins and the Kraft Snow Rafting where 12-person rafts are sent sledding and bouncing down oversized snow paths to the base of the hillside.
For a little bit more laid-back entertainment, the Carnival plays hosts to an international snow sculpture competition, wherein competitors from around the world work day and night amid the crowds to transform oversized blocks of snow into unimaginable works of art. Between browsing the sculptures, visitors can warm up with a Caribou, the traditional drink of the Winter Carnival, at the nearby ice bar outside Bistro SAQ or in front of Bonhomme’s Ice Palace while standing next to one of the elevated outdoor fire pits.
Off the main Carnival sites, three parades will be hosted through the streets of Old Québec. The day parade occurred on January 30th. It was an energized spectacle of marching mascots and giant inflatable balloons floating down Boulevard Charest under a light snowfall. The upcoming night parades in the city’s Upper Town, to be held on February 5th and 12th, promise to be even more spectacular with troupes of entertainers and floats delivering what is guaranteed to be an exiting night of Winter Carnival cheer.
For complete information, visit Carnaval de Québec