The Carnival

Carnaval de Québec

A bit of history...

The tradition of celebrating from the end of January until mid-February has been around for a long time! In Quebec City, the world’s snow capital, the first major winter carnival made its debut in 1894.

A population often faced with harsh winters decided to put on a snow festival to warm their hearts. Interrupted by the two world wars and the Great Depression of 1929, the Carnival resurfaced sporadically until the second half of the century. In 1954, with a view to promoting the economic development of the Old Capital, a group of business people relaunched the festivities and chose Bonhomme as the event’s representative. The first edition of the Québec Winter Carnival took place in 1955 and became a must-attend event for the people of Quebec City and the impetus behind the city’s winter tourist activities. Today, the Québec Winter Carnival is undeniably a major winter event and continues to be a driving force in Quebec’s winter life.

In 2019, the Quebec Winter Carnival prepared for the next step of its development through an orientation exercise under the guidance of Mr. Daniel Gélinas. The Carnival organization strongly believes this fundamental effort will support the evolution of our event. This new vision centers around three axes: creating a program based on major events, fostering community partnerships to promote associated activities, and optimizing visibility of the Carnival within Quebec City. The 2020 Carnival continues on exciting new path. We’ve condensed our activities over 10 days, updating classics like the Ice Palace and the Parades and propping up associated activities all over town. [08:31] Mélissa Parent The 67th Québec Winter Carnival featured ice and snow sculptures and monuments scattered throughout the city, as well as virtual programming on YouTube. Carnival organizers are ultimately very pleased to have successfully navigated this year’s challenges by presenting an event that not only followed all sanitary measures in place in this red zone but were also fun and entertaining for all.

Carnival traditions

Red clothing, carnival songs, the arrow sash, Bonhomme’s Effigy and the famous caribou are all time-honoured traditions dating back to the origins of the Carnival.

The arrow sash

It is largely thanks to the Québec Winter Carnival that the arrow sash still exists in Quebec society today. In the 19th century, this belt was used to tighten coats around the waist to prevent the cold from creeping in while also providing back support.

Many believe that the arrowhead technique is of Aboriginal origin whereas it is rather a mixture of two methods: Native American weaving and French-Canadian weaving. The Aboriginals helped to preserve the arrow sash by trading their furs in exchange for the sash. The Quebec arrow sash is unique in the world with its arrows rather than chevrons, as in the universal technique.

Here's how to tie your arrow sash

Place your sash around your waist, chevrons from the left band pointing downwards.


Cross the two bands of the sash keeping the left band on top.


Make a loop, by putting the left band under the band on the right, then flap it forward.


Final result: Chevrons point downwards. Wear the sash on your left, on the same side as your ❤️.

The Salut Bonhomme song

* Bonhomme Carnaval avec sa trompette

The trumpet

Nothing better than these long red or blue trumpets to liven up the mood along the Carnival Night Parade route! Come on, dress in red, tie your sash and put on your tuque, because in Quebec, it’s a tradition to celebrate!

Did you know that the Carnival trumpet can produce up to 114 decibels?

Carnival throughout the years