8 Reasons Quebec is the Ultimate Winter Destination
Heading south to escape winter? You're missing out on some of the best adventure Canada has to offer. Here's why Quebec is the ultimate winter travel destination.
Winter is no excuse to hibernate
A little snow or sleet won’t keep you inside when there’s so much to see and do in Quebec’s vibrant cities. From food tours and art exhibits to public ice rinks (Atrium Le 1000) and outdoor music festivals, Montreal has something going on every weekend of the winter season.
And, if the temps really are too much for you, there’s still a way to get to where you want to go. Montréal’s Underground City is a pedestrian network under the downtown core. More than 30 km of pathway make it easier to get to metro stations, shopping plazas, hotels and more. An estimated 500,000 people use it daily.
The world’s coldest music festival
Igloofest is an outdoor winter festival that brings together thousands of electronic music lovers to dance under the stars at Montreal’s Old Port. Beyond the incredible musical lineup, festival attendees love coming for the winter playground that is known as Igloovillage — and the annual snowsuit costume contest, of course!
Igloofest 2020 (its 14th season!) kicks off January 16th and runs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening until February 8th.
Warmth and style
Staying warm doesn’t mean sacrificing style. Quebec is home to several renowned fashion designers and brands, and naturally, they excel in stylish outerwear.
Mackage, a popular outerwear brand is based out of Montreal, as are outerwear brands Moose Knuckles, Rudsak and Soia & Kyo. Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, has worn several Montreal designers and was recently spotted wearing Soia & Kyo’s Saundra down coat (pictured).
Saundra mid-length classic down coat in Army, $695 at soiakyo.com.
Montreal is of course home to one of Canada’s seven NHL teams, the Montreal Canadiens, aka the Habs. The franchise is one of the “Original Six” teams to make up the NHL and Quebec takes a lot of pride in the history and success of the team with the Canadiens having won the Stanley Cup more times than any other franchise. The team has a strong and loyal fanbase in Quebec, many of whom come out to cheer for the team when it plays at the Bell Centre in Montreal. One of those fans is Diane Bibaud, the Montreal Canadiens organist. Bibaud has been playing the organ at the team’s hockey games since 1987. She’s been a symbol at games for more than 30 years and has even garnered her own fanbase.
Any excuse to spa
Cold temps are the perfect excuse to indulge in a little self-care, wouldn’t you agree? Take in a breathtaking view of Montreal from the deck of Bota Bota Spa sur L’eau, a floating spa located on a docked boat. If you’re lucky, your experience might be blessed with a gorgeous snowfall you can watch as you move through the thermotherapy water circuit.
Love the sounds of a low-key vacation? Be sure to check out our editor’s guide to Quebec’s wellness scene.
Eat local, even in winter
Quebec is a foodie’s dream destination. Indulgence is encouraged and there’s plenty to choose from. The province produces most of the cheese in Canada, and is well-known for brie and other soft ripened cheeses. Plus, we have Quebec to thank for poutine and fondue. Don’t worry, a little winter weight will keep you warm!
Be sure to visit Café Ricardo, a popular restaurant chain by Quebec chef, author and TV personality, Ricardo Larrivée.
If you want to get more hands-on, ice fishing is a popular activities in the winter. Give it a go at Parc de la Riviére-des-Mille-iles. You can go on your own, or with a guide who will also demonstrate how to clean and prepare your catch, and then you can taste your fresh-cooked fish on site.
Some of the best ski hills in Canada
Mount Tremblant is the oldest ski resort in Canada (and the second oldest in North America). Ski season lasts from November through April and the four slopes of Mt. Tremblant offer more than 90 diverse ski trails for everyone from beginners to veterans.
Don’t ski or snowboard? This charming resort town has plenty more to offer. Book a dogsledding adventure, or take a nighttime snowshoe and fondue tour up the slopes to a rustic cabin where you’ll dine on hot fondue and wine before heading back to the village.
There’s also a Scandinavian spa (Scandinave Spa) and several chic aprés-ski spots you can check out after a day of outdoor activity.
Maple Syrup Season
Eventually, winter does come to an end in Quebec but when it does it offers up the sweetest send-off: maple syrup season. This sweet stuff is considered liquid gold in Canada, and Quebec is the largest producer in the world! (In 2012, thieves stole $18.7-million worth of maple syrup in what’s become known as the Great Maple Syrup Robbery.)
The end of winter and beginning of spring is the perfect opportunity for a trip to the sugar shack and Quebec is home to more than 200 for you to choose from.
Ready to embrace the snow? Here are more vacation ideas for people who love winter.