CARNAVAL DE QUÉBEC/QUEBEC CITY (Jan. 29 to Feb. 14)
The Carnaval, which first took place in 1894 (Bonhomme joined the party in 1955), has become the largest winter carnival in the world—a celebration of tradition, history and culture that generates $48 million a year for the city. Activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, a soapbox derby, a snow sculpture competition, outdoor hot tubs or a climb to the top of a 10-m-tall ice palace. But if you’re feeling courageous, participating in a goosebump-inducing snow bath, or riding a 150-m zipline above thousands of festival-goers at the Plains of Abraham, will surely get your adrenalin going. Foodies can enjoy a visit a traditional sugar shack, or endulge in a beaver tail while touring the city’s historic downtown quarter.
VILLAGE VACANCE VALCARTIER/SAINT-GABRIEL-DE-VALCARTIER (from mid-December until the end of March)
The winter playground has 42 sliding hills overlooking the beautiful Jacques-Cartier River and Valley for thrill-seekers to speed down while clinging to rubber tubes or snow rafts. The park also boasts an outdoor rink and musical skating paths to glide through. Steeper slopes, including the “Himalaya” area, attract the more adventurous visitors. Reach speeds of 80 km/hr while flying down “Everest,” which, at 33 m tall, is said to be the highest hill with an ice slide in North America.
For the 13th consecutive year, Mont Tremblant has been voted the No. 1 ski resort for eastern North America in Ski Magazine’s annual survey. But its charming location has more to offer than a pristine mountain to carve. Surrounded by the beauty of the Laurentian Mountains, the picturesque town has something for everyone: shopping, art galleries, ice climbing, or visiting one of the bustling village’s many pubs, microbreweries and nightclubs.
THE MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS FESTIVAL (Feb. 18 to 28)
Every year, this spectacle of food, performing arts and light is themed after a region. This year it’s Portugal, and 20 Portuguese chefs have been invited to pair with Montreal restaurants (the honorary president of the culinary program for 2010 is chef Fausto Airoldi, from Lisbon’s acclaimed Pragma restaurant). Revellers can watch fireworks displays, enjoy an outdoor circus, or take in any number of musical acts. There are also plenty of historic sites—the quays of the Old Port, for instance, are illuminated in a rainbow of colours. For many, the best part of the festival is the Montreal All-Nighter (Nuit Blanche), which boasts more than 175 art exhibits spread across the city.
HÔTEL DE GLACE/SAINTE-CATHERINE-DE-LA-JACQUES-CARTIER (Jan. 4 to April 4)
Since opening its doors in 2001, the Hotel de Glace has mesmerized more than half a million visitors (every year, about 4,000 people stay the night) with its stunning architecture made completely out of snow and ice. Though the design of the hotel changes every year, it remains a 36-room one-of-a-kind experience complete with a majestic chandelier, art gallery, bar and chapel. Enjoy cocktails served in ice glasses, admire ice sculptures, or curl up on fur rugs by a fire.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.bonjourquebec.com