Mon pays, ce n’est pas une pays, c’est l’hiver (My country is not a country, it’s winter). In this Quebec anthem, Gilles Vigneault captures the deep Canadian relationship with winter. Quebec has as many real winter months as summer, with its people embracing the cold and snow.
Situated on Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond), above the Saint Lawrence River, Quebec is humid and windy. The force of the winter cold can be brutal, but of course, everything continues to function. Even the Saint Lawrence River stays open due to a fleet of icebreakers. Quebec City may be one of the most attractive winter cities anywhere in the world.
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Established in 1894, the Quebec Winter Carnival offers 10 days of pure frigid celebration each February, competing for the status of the largest winter carnival in the world. The carnival mascot, Bonhomme (Happy Snowman), captures the happiness and energy of this festival. The many events include brave participants racing small boats across the partially frozen river, jumping out on ice flows when required.
Only 20 minutes from Quebec City, Stoneham offers three different peaks with a good variety of runs. The resort area generally receives heavy snowfall, and lights allow for night skiing. It also has hotels and restaurants should you wish to make a weekend visit, and there is also a skating rink and trails for snowshoeing.
A little farther up the Charlevoix coast, about 40 minutes outside Quebec, Mont-Sainte-Anne is the largest ski resort in the region. Both sides of the mountain are developed, and the longest run is an impressive 4mi (6km). The resort also offers developed cross-country trails and fat-bike rentals. The top of the mountain features beautiful views of the region and Saint Lawrence River.
Strøm Nordic Spa is pure luxury on the coldest winter days. Situated on the shore of the Saint Lawrence, this thermal spa is within walking distance of Old Quebec. It offers a wide variety of indoor and outdoor pools and saunas, complete with a quiet area and social pools. Sitting outside in hot pools during a Canadian winter is a particular indulgence.
Among the oldest attractions in Quebec, this frozen wooden slide is located on the Terrasse Dufferin and predates the Château Frontenac. Speeds on the slide can reach 43mph (70kph). The ride is safe, thrilling and chilly and comes with perfect views of the famous hotel. Hot chocolate is the logical drink for warming up afterward.
Only 30 minutes outside Quebec City, the Ice Hotel is the only one of its kind in North America. It generally opens in January, and the theme and design change each year. There are custom-designed hotel rooms, a restaurant and a bar. The Quebecois enjoy visiting it as much as tourists do.