Québec City at its Best
12 Facts That Prove People in Québec City Are Nuts about Winter
Winter turns Québec City into a giant frosty playground. And the locals are really, really into it. With an average annual snowfall of 305 cm, it’s one big chance to let your inner child out and embrace the wonders of the season—like powder (“poudrerie”), slush (“sloche”), and snowbanks (“bancs de neige”). Don’t be afraid of the cold. Come out and play! Here are 12 facts that will have you rocking winter like a local.
1 There's a New Ice Hotel Every Winter
A technical marvel, this snow-and-ice structure is rebuilt every year over a period of 3 months to welcome visitors from the four corners of the globe. This year, the Ice Hotel (“Hôtel de Glace”) will have 44 uniquely themed rooms and suites. Don’t miss the chance to spend a magical winter night in a fairytale setting.
2 Cross-Country Skiing Opens Here First
Credit: Forêt Montmorency Zoom
Skiing in late October? Of course! At Montmorency Forest, they’ve developed a special snow storage process, so as soon as it gets chilly, they bust out the reserves and lay down a 2.5 km nordic trail—the only one of its kind in northeastern North America.
3 We Skate as Soon as we Learn to Walk
Credit: Camirand Zoom
Kids in Québec learn to skate almost as soon as they learn to walk. Every village has an outdoor skating rink come winter. Some even run along rivers and across lakes. Whether for hockey—our national sport—or just gliding around, there’s no better place to lace up those skates.
4 We Hit the Slopes after Work
Credit: Station Touristique Stoneham Zoom
Heard of night skiing? Some ski resorts have it every night of the week and they’re less than 30 minutes from the city centre. Swooshing down the slopes under the stars is an incredible experience that everyone should try at least once in their life.
5 We Ski, Snowshoe and go Ice Fishing in the City
Credit: Guy Lessard Zoom
How many places in the world do you know where you can step out from your hotel in the heart of the city with your skis on or ready to fish? Québec City locals are blessed with a huge urban park—the Plains of Abraham—for cross‑country skiing and snowshoeing. It’s not uncommon to see Parliament Hill employees head out on their lunch break to take a few strides across the Plains.
Find out more about cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the Plains of Abraham or about ice fishing at Village Nordik at Port of Québec
6 We Take Canoes across the Icy St. Lawrence River
Credit: Michel Émond Zoom
Back in the day, people used ice canoes to get from Québec City to Lévis across the mighty St. Lawrence River. Today, ice canoeing has become a local sports phenomenon. More than 60 teams compete each winter on the frozen waters of the St. Lawrence River, including the famous race during the Carnaval de Québec.
7 We Do the Snowpants Dance
Credit: André-Olivier Lyra Zoom
Love the nightlife? Québec City has some of the best winter parties going. On New Year’s Eve you can dance the night away under the bright lights on Grande Allée. Later on, the Winter Carnival and Jamboree will keep you groovin’ all winter long.
8 We Go Snow Rafting
Credit: Village Vacances Valcartier Zoom
Sledding is winter fun for everyone—kids, grandparents, the whole fam‑dam. But sledding at Valcartier Vacation Village is fun on a level previously unknown to man. Hit the slides with a tube, head down the massive slopes on a raft, or take a turn on an exclusive Valcartier Vacation Village innovation, the aptly named “Tornado.”
9 We Have a Bike for Every Season
Fatbikes are the latest mountain biking craze. With their oversized tires, they’re perfect for hitting the trails all winter long.
10 We Take Nice Cold Baths
Every year, valiant festivalgoers head out in bathing suits, toques, and mittens to brave the frigid conditions of the grand ol’ snowbath at the Québec Winter Carnival.
If you’re looking for a more laid‑back experience, head to one of the many nordic spas in the region. They’re supremely relaxing.
Credit: Spa des neiges Zoom
11 We Have Crazy Sports Challenges Like the Pentathlon des neiges
The Pentathlon, Québec City’s latest winter tradition, is the biggest winter multisport event in the world, drawing an average of 6,000 competitors each year. Québec City locals are some of the keenest participants, with families, businesses, schools, and even seniors forming teams for the tandem and group challenges. It’s become so popular that nearly everyone in the city knows someone in the Pentathlon des neiges.
Find out more about the Snow Pentathlon (French only)