Nobody does winter like Québec City. The entire city—from Trait-Carré to the Petit Champlain district—is a hive of activity all winter long. You can go for a skate or take a stroll, then pop into a shop to thaw out. Here are some of our favourite things to see and do!
Lace Up your Skates!
Skating has been a popular pastime in Québec City for over 200 years. Ever noticed that the railings on many of the city’s staircases and balconies have a blade pattern on them? You’ll find this beautiful metal “lacework” mostly in Lower Town and Limoilou, but there’s some in Upper Town too. So join in the tradition, lace up your skates (or rent a pair), and meet your friends at one of the many outdoor rinks in town. They’re free! Here are some of our favourite spots:
- Pointe-aux-Lièvres along the Saint-Charles River: 1.5 km of lit trails where you can skate along to music
- The rink at Place d’Youville or the oval on the Plains of Abraham: practice your arabesque in the heart of the urban action
- The Gaétan-Boucher oval: 400 m long and 12 m wide, with specific time slots reserved for speed skating
Pile Onto a Toboggan for Some Full-Tilt Fun
On a sled, toboggan, snow tube, or crazy carpet—there’s nothing like whizzing down a snowy hill to make you feel like a kid again.
Canada’s First Peoples have been using toboggans for centuries to carry winter loads. These narrow wooden sleds were adopted by early settlers, who found they could be used for play as well as work and began riding them down snow-covered hills in the woods and in town. In 1748, the intendant of New France, François Bigot, went so far as to ban “adults and children alike” from tobogganing down the streets of Québec City! So young people took to sledding on what would become the Plains of Abraham. Today, you can get your thrills on the toboggan run at Au 1884 on Dufferin Terrace or at the Sainte-Foy outdoor centre, Centre de glisse Myrand, or Valcartier Vacation Village.
Get Out into Nature for Some Fresh Air
Nothing cures cabin fever like immersing yourself in nature. On foot, snowshoes, or cross-country skis, breathe deep and keep your eyes peeled for the birds that overwinter in the region. Explore the trails at Domaine de Maizerets, Parc Chauveau, Marais du Nord, Montmorency Forest, Marais Léon-Provancher, or even Parc Jean-Paul-L’Allier, smack dab in the middle of downtown. You’re sure to make some winged friends and come home with rosy cheeks!
Make the Most of Winter in Old Charlesbourg
Trait-Carré, with its unusual street pattern and beautiful heritage homes, looks even more magical in the winter. You can take a lantern-guided walking tour of the nativity scenes sprinkled throughout the area.
Other attractions include La Boutique de l’artisane and Moulin des Jésuites—and don’t forget the traditional night-time Carnival Parade from Charlesbourg to Limoilou. Need a quick pick-me-up? Stop in for a sweet treat at La Fudgerie - Les Mignardises Doucinet and try one of its 80 original flavours of fudge. The shop is named after Charlesbourg pioneer Élisabeth Doucinet, one of the filles du roy (king’s daughters) who arrived in 1666.
Winter in Québec City Means…
…Crampons on boots, squads clearing snow from the steep roofs in Old Québec, good Samaritans pitching in after a snowstorm to help shovel or push cars out of the snow, pick-up hockey games, frozen tourists buying tuques and parkas, frosty eyelashes when you’re waiting for the bus, cheeks that tingle when you finally get inside—that’s the true Québec!
By Catherine Ferland