Enjoying the Carnaval de Quebec with an ice castle, rides and caribou

Ice castle at Carnival de Quebec (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Ice castle at Winter Carnival in Quebec. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

By Marlene Greer, Correspondent

Bundled up in several layers of clothing, we braved the single-digit temperatures for a sled ride down an ice track, a round of bumper rafts on ice, a drink of caribou at the ice bar, and a walk through an ice castle. We even made our own “maple-sicles” in the snow.

It’s all part of Carnaval de Quebec, a 17-day long celebration of all things snow and ice. Quebec City, like much of the northeast in early February, was in the grip of a deep freeze, but that didn’t keep families from bundling up in their snow gear for some winter fun.

Christian, a native Quebecer there with his two children, the youngest he was pulling around in a sled, joked, “We have to do something in winter.”

The carnival is spread across the Plaines D’Abraham just outside the old walled city. In addition to the rides, food, music, snow sculptures and events at the Plaines, parades, concerts and races take place throughout the city.

Making maple popsicles (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Making maple popsicles. (Photo by Marlene Greer)

The first thing you notice – and can’t miss – at the carnival is the large ice palace, a tradition going back to the first carnival in 1955. As you go from room to room, you can lounge in an ice chair, check out the ice bar, and explore ice tunnels (for kids, except for one parent we watched crawl in to retrieve her wayward toddler).

Then there are the beautiful to fantastical snow sculptures. The international snow sculpture competition has been part of the carnival since 1973. Sculptors from around the globe come to Quebec to create these intricate and realistic works of art. A trail winds among the sculptures so you can view them from all sides.

Being Canadians, of course there’s a small hockey rink, where kids can grab a stick and join in. There’s also ice fishing, dogsled rides, a tubing hill, and bumper rafts, where you just sit back and enjoy the spin as the boats (on wheels) are pushed around the ice. And what’s a carnival without food and drink? We tried the make-your-own maple pop and caribou. To make a traditional Canadian maple pop, a foot-long strip of warm maple syrup is poured on top of snow, and you take a popsicle stick and roll the slowly hardening syrup around the stick. As for caribou, with a name like that how could we resist? Caribou is made with Canadian port, vodka and brandy and is served warm – perfect on a frigid winter day.

The carnival concludes this weekend. Special events include the night parade and after-party, a sleigh race, and the crazy snow bath.

Snow sculpture at Carnival de Quebec (Photo by Marlene Greer)

Snow sculpture at Winter Carnival in Quebec. (Photo by Marlene Greer)


Last chance to book Banff Springs Hotel Xmas ski package

Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine


Save 40% on Fairmont and 4th day skiing free

Last Chance: Book Your Ski Vacation and Save

Our popular Banff Springs Hotel 40% Off and 30% Christmas Special both end on August 31. You won’t find a better time to book your Fairmont ski vacation in Banff-Lake Louise. Most of these offers include 4th day skiing free in addition to 30-40% off your room rate.

Don’t wait! 40% and Christmas offers end August 31


No Christmas blackout, 4th day skiing free
Valid for travel between Dec 19, 2014 and Jan 3, 2015
5 night minimum stay



Includes a 4th day skiing free
Valid for travel from Nov 1, 2014 – April 30, 2015
4 night minimum stay, Christmas/New Year blackout applies*



No minimum stay, Christmas/New Year blackout applies*
Valid for travel from Nov 1, 2014 – April 30, 2015



4 night minimum stay and get your 4th day skiing free!
Christmas/New Year blackout applies
Valid for travel from Nov 1, 2014 – April 30, 2015


The Mountain Collective pass on sale at Liftopia

The Mountain Collective has begun selling tickets for the 2014/2015 season adding Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine to its premier roster of independent ski resorts and giving skiers and riders access to seven iconic destinations.

Ski Banff-Lake Louise- Sunshine joins AltaSnowbird , Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Mammoth Mountain, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and Whistler Blackcomb in this unprecedented collaboration of destinations powered by Liftopia.

Beginning today consumers can purchase The Mountain Collective Pass at the 2014/2015 rate of  $389 via www.themountaincollective.com and via Liftopia.com, the exclusive technology, distribution and marketing partner of this historic alliance.

Additionally, the price for the kid’s pass has been reduced more than 55 percent to just $99 for the 2014-2015 season making it an ideal time to plan a family ski vacation.

Included in the pass are:

·      Two free days at each ski area

·      Unlimited 50% off lift tickets, after complimentary days are used, at each of the seven destinations

·      Exclusive perks such as discounted hotel rates at some resorts

Quantities are limited at this rate and there are no blackout dates or restrictions when using the free days or discounted days at any of the resorts.

This partnership demonstrates how the ski industry is evolving in its marketing and distribution practices to drive more purchases online and in advance while providing incentives to get skiers and snowboarders to spend more time on the mountains they love.

It also shows how the concept of a “ski pass” continues to evolve, from the traditional offering that includes season pass holders or resorts within close proximity to one another to a pass that brings added value for destination skiers.