Winter lovers, rejoice! One of Canada’s favourite and longest-standing festivals, le Carnavale de Québec, will be making its annual appearance from February 5 – 14, 2021. With a slightly different set up than in previous years, the Carnival will be hosted at different event sites throughout various Quebec City neighbourhoods, offering visitors easy access to local businesses and Carnival activities. What originally began more than 100 years ago as a way to boost people’s spirits during a cold, dark Quebec winter has grown into a much beloved tradition. The 2021 event is sure to bring back that spark of joy that the first festival promised, and with a decentralized set up, control measures in place, and a virtual program available, the festival will bring an exciting, new experience to an old favourite event.

Carnavale de Quebec: A Rich History

Although the first Carnival was held in 1894, it didn’t become an annual event until the mid-1950’s. As with the original event, the highlights of the 1955 festival were a magnificent ice palace and a canoe race across the frozen St. Lawrence River, but this year saw the first appearance of Bonhomme Carnavale, and the first crowning of the Carnival Queen. Since its inception, the festival has hosted sporting events such as barrel jumping, ice canoeing, and motorcycle races, and extremely high profile guests, including Prince Grace of Monaco. 

Salut Bonhomme!

The true star of the show is, and always has been, Bonhomme Carnaval. He has been the face of the festival for more than 65 years, accepting the Keys to the City from the mayor each year and officially kicking off the event. Bonhomme’s red hat and colourful sash are recognized worldwide as symbols of this incredible festival, and the spirit of Quebec in the winter. He even has his own theme song!

Traverse the Snow and Ice Route

For the duration of the festival, a route of almost 100 snow and ice sculptures will be on display at each of the Carnival sites and throughout the city at various well-known locations. Revelers can observe artists at work as wintry wonders come to life before your eyes, along a route that will evolve throughout the festival and connect each of the seven official event districts. An interactive game will also be available for those who love a challenge – you can play on your mobile phone, collecting points for every sculpture that you see. As a bonus for true winter enthusiasts – the colder it gets, the more points you can earn! 

Going with the Floe

Ice will be front and centre at the 2021 Carnvale de Quebec…and not just as a result of a classic Canadian winter. This year, Bonhomme’s traditional ice castle will be split into large ice blocks and turned into ice towers, each inspired by the neighbourhoods that will act as the official event sites. In addition to the magnificent ice towers, carnival goers can slip and slide their cares away down almost 50 feet of ice — you’ll want to bundle up for this ride, but it will be well worth the extra layers. Unique ice slides will be set up throughout Quebec City in the neighbourhoods of each event site, so you can take a little winter joy ride down an ice chute to add an element of excitement to your festival experience.

So, this year, embrace your inner Bonhomme and enjoy the festivities from wherever you like! Cozy up on your couch and experience the magic of Carnavale through the new virtual experience, or bundle up and revel in the beauty of Quebec in the winter. 

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