Fall might be the best time to visit Quebec, as the long winter puts the province into a deep freeze from December to March. From colorful landscapes to the autumn festivals that take place in the cities, here’s why you should plan a trip to this province during the harvest season.
Whether you find yourself in a city or the surrounding landscapes of the province, the peak time for stunning autumn colors throughout Quebec is late September and early October. The bright yellows and warm reds are picture perfect, and it’s well worth taking some time to enjoy the colorful beauty before the winter season takes over.
The central-eastern part of Canada has distinct temperature extremes between the seasons—the winters are cold, especially in Quebec, but the summers are hot and tend to be very humid. Traveling in the early autumn offers the best temperatures that the region has to offer, especially in September and early October. The humidity is down, and the deep freeze is still a couple of months away, so it’s a perfect time for exploring the city and countryside alike.
As the festival-loving summer season in Quebec’s cities draws to an end, fall is an excellent time to head out into the countryside and enjoy activities such as hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and kayaking/canoeing. The weather is cooler than in the summer; mosquitoes are no longer out in full force, and many of Quebec’s national parks have extensive autumn programming so that families can continue to enjoy the great outdoors, even though the days are growing shorter.
Quebec’s autumn produce, which begins in mid-September, comes to full fruition. One great way to mark the changing season is by heading just outside of the city to one of the province’s numerous orchards to pick your own apples and buy fresh homemade apple pies and other baked goods.
With fall comes the harvest season, which brings fun food-focused activities for everyone to enjoy. Along with apple picking, the cranberry harvest in Centre-du-Quebec is another way to connect with the natural rhythm of the seasons and enjoy some fall flavors.
Adding to the delicious flavors of fall are the wines and ciders that are produced in Quebec. For example, exploring the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route (Route des vins) in the Eastern Townships is an excellent way to experience viticulture in Quebec. The surrounding landscapes are picturesque and rich with heritage. There are 22 wineries along the route, which are accessible by car, bicycle, or via one of the Wine Route tours that are available.
While Quebec is famous for its summer festival culture in particular (legend has it that there are over 500 festivals through July and August across the province), there are fun and creative cultural celebrations from September into November that make the harvest season more dynamic. From art to music and fall fairs to cinema, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
In addition to the season’s beautiful colors and delicious flavors, it’s an ideal time of year to explore the local wildlife, as they too prepare for the coming winter. In Montmagny, the snow goose capital of the world, you can view the impressive gatherings of these birds while also participating in cultural and family activities—including bird-watching and goose-sampling. There’s also whale-watching in Tadoussac, a popular adventure for locals and visitors alike.
It’s no secret that Canadians love a good hockey game, and Quebeckers are among the most passionate hockey fans in the country. With fall comes the start of the National Hockey League (NHL) season. While visiting, be sure to buy a jersey or T-shirt of the Montreal Canadiens, the local NHL team, and head to a local pub to get swept up in the beer-infused viewing action.
With its historic architecture, beautiful natural setting, and bustling arts and culture scene, Quebec City is charismatic and continues to be one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the province. Its popularity means that during peak season (the summer months), it can get busy and expensive to visit. The city is even more stunning in the fall, as the leaves change and the sunlight takes on the rich golden slant that signals the changing season. Not having to navigate the crowds also makes visiting during this time all the more enjoyable.