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Carnaval de Québec: Quebec’s Winter Carnival

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The largest winter carnival in the world is about to begin its 60th season. Carnaval de Québec, Quebec’s Winter Carnival, will run from January 31st to February 16th with activities, sports competitions, and entertainment in this French-speaking province of Canada.

“For its 60th anniversary, the Carnival is shifting its program. We are now headed towards a casual party that will encourage popular participation in all sectors of the greater Québec area and maximize the winter experience,” mentions Denis Simard, Carnival President. “As an event generating major touristic benefits for Québec during the cold season, the Carnival must renew itself through its content and offer activities that will please both local participants and visitors from outside the area. Millions of people participated in the Carnival throughout the last 59 years and all are welcome to come celebrate our 60th anniversary and enjoy the new activities scheduled that will meet expectations, I’m sure,” adds Denis Simard.

Winter Carnival is based on the long-standing tradition in New France, as this region was formerly known, of eating, drinking, and merry making before Lent, from the end of January to the middle of February. The celebrations were interrupted by economic hardships and wars, but revived and enhanced, getting bigger and better for the past sixty years. Together with the celebrations in Rio and New Orleans, it is one of the top three carnivals in the world.

Led by the lovable Bonhomme Carnaval, the mascot and ambassador who wears a traditional hat and arrow sash, the celebration now includes winter sports, dogsled races, snow sculptures, canoe races, and night parades.

Over 300 tons of ice will be used to build Bonhomme's grand 40’ tall Ice Palace. Its foyer will feature archive images. the living room and f]kitchen will reveal information about Bonhomme’s private life, and his ideas come to life in his creation workshop.

The party will be spread out throughout Québec City’s neighborhoods. with eight streets featuring family-friendly activities. Participate in a curling tournament and see a lumberjack competition on 3rd Avenue, enjoy the festive atmosphere with DJs and lighting before the second Parade on Cartier Street, fly down Grande Allée on a hipline that runs from the Dagobert to the St-Hubert or relive the atmosphere of Ste- Thérèse Streets and Voutes chez Ti-Père in Quartier Petit-Champlain.

Carnival Duchesses have worked to bring the excitement of Carnival and Quebec’s winter to their respective Duchies. Between January 11th and 26th, people can participate in these free events in the seven Duchies of the greater Québec area.

Buy a Carnaval effigy, a little plastic figure of Bonhomme that is worn for entry to the celebration. Enjoy 17 days of fun for just $15 CAD, or $45 for a family package of four , available at Uniprix or Couche-Tard, or online.

While in Quebec City, be sure to also visit the Ice Hotel, the Hôtel de Glace, which is just ten minutes away from the downtown area. Book a stay or stop for a drink. It is open from January 3 to March 23, 2014. Get a $2 CAD discount on the entrance fee with a Winter Carnival ticket.

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