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Quebec Winter Carnival

- Tyler

This past weekend, my family and I took a road trip to Quebec City, Canada, which is 500 miles from our home in New York. The 15 hour round trip — to see the Winter Carnival, the biggest winter festival in the world — was well worth it. We recruited another family to join us and stayed at the Quebec Hilton, which is right outside the old walled city and across the street from the Carnival site itself (which covers the Plains of Abraham next to the old Citadelle of Quebec).

On Saturday morning we went to the Carnival and learned just how cold it can get in Quebec this time of year — 5 degrees Fahrenheit! So it was important to wear a lot of layers, and definitely some “hotties” in our shoes and gloves! After entering the front gate, we passed a row of the some incredible ice carvings made by sculptors from all over the world. In the park itself, there were a lot of activities, including snow tubing, and ice slide and even hot tubbing! People actually changed into their bathing suites and went into jacuzzis set up right in the festival. Exploring further, we found a giant foosball table, where people where actually strapped to the poles and had to kick the balls into the goals. My brother and I got a play a game, but lost.

Later in the day, we watched the horse sleigh race competition. This is basically like an equestrian event where the horses pull a sled around a slalom course steered by a pair of drivers. We’ve never seen something like this in the U.S., so it was interesting to watch. Finally, we had to check out the annual “snow bath” event, where people come out on a stage in their bathing suites and play around in the snow in the freezing cold (at the time it was about 18°F).

That night, we watched the famous Winter Carnival Night Parade, complete with themes dazzling floats, dynamic dance troups and marching bands. It was a pretty wild show. At the end, the Carnival’s mascot, Bonhomme, closed the parade. It’s kind of like Santa Claus at the end of the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York. My friends and I watched the parade from our hotel room in the Hilton, which was great considering it was about -5 degrees by the time the parade started at 8:45pm.

The next morning, we went to visit the Hotel de Glace, or ice hotel, which we stayed in last year. Since they have to build a new one every year, it was different than last year. This year they added an outdoor ice slide, which was pretty cool. When we got home, it was 29 degrees, which felt like summer!

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