Behold: The most Christmassy place in Canada
Visit this Best of the Holidays Guide to the Season for shopping tips, the science of Santa and more.
Special to The Weather Network
Wednesday, November 30, 2016, 9:01 AM - The weather outside may be frightful but everything about Québec City is delightful, especially around Christmas.
Snow is a go, festive décor galore, twinkling lights are bright, and the holiday spirit buzzes.
It’s the most Christmassy place in Canada.
While there’s truth to the notion that there’s no place like home for the holidays, it’s a wonderful life in Québec City, sure to have no one missing home, and everyone believing in Santa. CNN actually ranked Québec City in the world’s top 10 destinations for celebrating the holidays.
Parliament building and Tourny Fountain. Credit: Ville de Québec
Imagine snow-swept cobblestone streets, twinkling lights, towering Christmas trees, holiday markets, live carol singing. It’s like a postcard come to life, a magical place awash in the Yuletide spirit and reminiscent of Christmases past, just like out of Charles Dickens’ novel, A Christmas Carol.
Festivities start in early December in a run-up to Christmas, and carry right through to the New Year. So if Aunt Agnes' place on Christmas Day is a done deal, plan to celebrate early with some sightseeing, culture and holiday shopping, or visit Québec City after the Christmas gifts have been opened and the kids are driving you nuts, put ’em ice for a night at Hôtel de Glace, the legendary ice hotel. You have to see it to believe it.
Hôtel de Glace. Credit: Luc Rousseau
Grab your toque and parka, and first head on over to Rue du Petit-Champlain. The blizzard of twinkling lights and awe-inspiring architecture, along with local artisans, charming boutiques and bistros, make for a Christmas wonderland.
All of Quartier Petit-Champlain is transformed into a living Christmas village with the real Santa Claus, storytelling and live carol singing. Rue du Petit-Champlain was voted Canada’s favourite street in 2014 by Great Places in Canada.
Hustle and bustle on Petit-Champlain Street at Christmas time. Credit: Ville de Quebec
Stroll through Christmas markets, including the most epic around, the sprawling German Christmas Market. This is where Dickens comes to life in a small village of wooden kiosks nestled right in the heart of the city and bursting with old-world charm.
Indulge in sensational German treats, including bratwurst, warm mulled wine and spicy gingerbread. Enjoy roasted chestnuts, exquisite hand-crafted Christmas gifts, choral singing, and fun performances, including special activities for the kids. Yes, expect the jolly big guy to be making the rounds.
Petit-Champlain Street at Christmas time. Credit: Ville de Québec
Once you’ve filled up on at the market and have maxed out on the holiday crowds, put in some laps and enjoy the scenery.
Ice skating is a mythic activity in Québec. Rentals are available at Place d’Youville rink, next to Old Québec and surrounded by vibrant Christmas lights.
If you want to get out of the city for some outdoor fun, surrounding areas offer skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Ice skating at Place D'Youville. Credit: Ville de Québec
Make time for a visit to the Fairmont le Château Frontenac. The recently renovated lobby features historical artifacts going back 400 years displayed in specially designed cases. Cheer the season with a glass or two at the wine and cheese bar Le 1608.
Stay awhile because from December 27 to 31, Rue Grande Allée is the perfect place to celebrate the New Year in Québec City. On the program: Traditional music, Ferris wheel, urban zipline, heated terraces and outdoor bars. On New Year’s Eve, there’s a gigantic free outdoor party that will end in a spectacular fireworks display. Grande Allée is extra special this year – the musical and pyrotechnic show to kick off 2017 is also celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada.
Hang around longer and end the season with a bang - an unforgettable night at The Hôtel de Glace, which is expected to open up at the beginning of January. You won’t be just dreaming of a white Christmas - you’ll be sleeping in it.
Ice hotel bedroom. Credit: Renaud Philippe
Meanwhile, to make all your holiday dreams come true, including where to stay and where to go in Québec City, click here.
Meanwhile, if Québec City doesn’t grab you, how about heading out to the west coast to Banff National Park? You’re guaranteed snow in the mountains and activities to feed all the senses. Everyone will be believing in Santa after Christmas at the Castle in the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel. Go skiing, skating and dogsledding. Christmas can’t get any better.
At the other end of Canada is another honourable mention: Check out the Town of Bay Roberts, Newfoundland for its extensive Christmas celebrations. Located on the Avalon Peninsula, this small community hosts the award-winning Festival of Lights and includes the biggest nativity scene on the east coast, fireworks, concerts and two Santa parades. Reader’s Digest rated Bay Roberts as one of the top 10 most festive communities in Canada.