I'm not normally a winter person, but my recent visit to Quebec City's Winter Carnaval, the biggest Carnaval (carnival) in the World, is an experience worth repeating. You'll be enjoying the fun with nearly 750,000 Carnival-goers during this 17 day annual festival, beginning the end of January each year.
Pictured right is the icon of the Winter Carnaval, Bonhomme, and to the left me with Bonhomme.
Bonhomme is a loveable, 7-foot mascot, a popular, jovial snowman who represents the essence of the carnival -- the love of the snow and festivities. Children chant, "I love you, Bonhomme" during the night parades that wind through the streets of Charlesbourg and Quebec City.
After a travel day of delays (including delayed luggage), I finally arrived in Quebec City at Jean-Lessage International Airport. I was transfered to my home for the next few days: Hilton Quebec, a 571-room property with sweeping views of the city. This Hilton is located on Quebec's Parliament Hill and connected by indoor walkways to the Québec City Convention Centre and a concourse of shops. For Winter Carnaval goers, you're minutes away from the action.
Below left, the walled Old Quebec City and below right, the city view from Hilton Quebec.
I checked in and freshened up to experience yet another amazing, rotating 360 degree view of the city and surrounding area, atop the Loews Le Concorde Hotel. I dined at the L'Astral, which features culinary local and seasonal tastes, including the traditional Caribou,.
A mix of red port and alcohol. Caribou is an authentic alcoholic beverage of aboriginal origin. Historically, caribou was a welcoming glass for friends of rural neighbors. Today it's a traditional year-round drink, often served at the Winter Carnval.
Quebec City is the world's Snow Capital and this year was no different. It was brisk, snowy and cold, but once you jump in to enjoy the festivities of the Winter Carnaval, you'll quickly forget the cold. It's a walkable historic city filled with revellers enjoying the winter activities. For 17 days in a row, you'll see young, old, families and singles -- all enjoying a multitude of ahtletic, artistic and cultural events.
From snow sculptures to snow bathers; snow-rafters and ice sliders; to the traditional canoe raceacross the mighty St. Lawrence to the Night Parades and nightlife, this wintry white city is enthusastic about their Quebec Winter Carnival. Enjoy this photo gallery of Winter Carnival activities:
I visited the Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace) twice. Once Friday morning for a few hours, and then I did the unthinkable (for me anyway), Sunday I braved an overnight adventure at the Ice Hotel. For more details, on that chilling adventure, read my article at Examiner.com and/or blog. Less than an hour from Quebec City, the Ice Hotel is a great add-on to your Winter Carnaval adventure.
Mark your calendar for the 56th Annual Quebec City Winter Carnival dates for 2010: January 29 through February 14. Perhaps you'll see me there with my family.
Until next time -- which will be a more tropical destination !