Québec City is beautiful at every season. But I especially love it during August and February. That’s because the city plays host to two unique and fantastic festivals. In early February, Carnaval de Québec takes over the city. The carnival celebrates all things winter with ice sculptures, ice hotels, ice slides and lots of music and dancing.
But in August, the city comes alive with the Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France. Over a four day weekend, the community celebrates its founding and French heritage with several different exhibitions on early life in the province, entertainment varying from strong man competitions to concerts, and, of course, plenty of food and good strong drinks.
It is tons of fun without the typical touristy feel. There are many stands set up in the lower city (Old Québec City is divided into a lower and upper section) where you can buy souvenirs and beer. Many of the original settling families set up booths in search of long lost relatives.
Tourists and locals alike get into the spirit by dressing up in period clothing that can be purchased at Le Trois Tours. If that’s not your thing but you still want to participate in the fun, you can snag a straw tricorn hat or flower wreath. Believe me, you will not look out of place over the weekend.
Then there are sections that require an effigy to enter and there is a very reasonable fee for such areas. You can buy the charm for $13 Canadian at one of the many distributors around the lower city. You just have to show the charm to enter the ticketed areas. There they have full bars set up, food, wine, wine tastings, as well as plenty of entertainment.
The festival is also educational. You can learn how blacksmiths made tools and weapons for the early Québécois people. There is a cooper, a shoemaker, a book smith, as well as other semi-ancient arts that are demonstrated to festival attendees.
If you are considering a summer trip to Québec City, wait until August! Next year’s Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France is happening August 1st through 5th.