JANUARY - FEBRUARY
Montreal's Snow Festival
Quebec Winter Canrival, Quebec City
Montreal en Lumiere
Saguenay Jazz & Blues Festival
MAY - JUNE
Go Bike Montreal Festival
Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix Montreal
Les Francofolies de Montreal
JUNE - JULY
Montreal International Jazz Festival
Just for Laughs Festival, Montreal
Monreal Cirque Festival
Quebec City Summer Festival
Tremblant International Blues Festival
JULY - AUGUST
Le Festival de Lanaudiere
Montreal First Peoples Festival
New France Festival, Québec City
Poutine Festival, Drummondville
Rogers Cup, Montreal
Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival
St-Tite Western Festival
Writer: Josephine Matyas
What sets Québec apart is that it ticks every box. There is something for every passion—for lovers of history and culture, for foodies, for the shopaholic, for sports enthusiasts and nature lovers, and for those looking beyond the quiet to the lights of the big city. It’s possible to mix and match to create the perfect stay . . . and to do it all in one vacation.
Canada’s largest province, la belle province, is known for its rich heritage rooted in centuries of French history, culture and joie de vivre. The heart-warming traditions of the people and communities are found in their welcoming smiles and pride of place and history.
That famous Québec passion is in the air. Visitors find themselves immersed in an irresistible tableau of experiences, sights and emotions that spark the beginning of a love affair with the province. Visit, share and open yourself to becoming wrapped up in the heart of it all.
FOUR SEASON ADVENTURES
Québec is a landscape of superlatives. There’s warmth, plus an energy and glow that blanket the province. Québecers love special events and festivals.
Everywhere, Québec’s National Holiday is celebrated on June 24th with shows, parades, bonfires and fireworks. There are music festivals: Montréal International Jazz Festival (Festival International de Jazz de Montréal), Québec City Summer Festival (Festival d’été de Québec) and many others.
Summer is the perfect time to visit pick-your-own farms and follow the province’s food trails, or become one with the unspoiled wilderness by hiking, climbing and paddling. There are opportunities for everyone drawn to the outdoors.
Autumn brings a dramatic splash of colour and springtime follows with the sweetness of maple syrup. A large percent of the world’s maple syrup is produced in Québec.
Winter includes snowmobiling, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and dogsledding. Québecers celebrate hockey like no other spot on earth—the Montréal Canadiens are the oldest hockey team in the world that has played without interruption.
The Québec Winter Carnival—the world’s largest—anchors the winter with its snow slides, ice sculptures and canoe race on the frozen St. Lawrence River. Across the province, they pay homage to the cooler seasons—from the family-friendly Fête des Neiges in Montréal to the fall Oktobierfest in Sainte-Adèle, and all points between.
FOLLOW YOUR TASTEBUDS
There’s a deep connection between land and people. Québec’s gastronomic trails link the harvest of the countryside with the markets of the cities. The trails are known for artisanal cheese producers, small production vintners, local growers and specialty producers. Exploring the trails is a way to meet the people who create the province’s signature products, from foie gras to springtime maple syrup.
The Farmlands Route (Chemin du Terroir) loops through the Laurentians countryside, with stops at producers of wines and ciders, maple goods, fresh-picked apples and Québec’s famous fromageries.
The Gourmet Route (Le Parcours gourmand) links restaurants and craft producers in the greater Québec City area, including those on historic Île d’Orléans, famous for pick-your-own berries in the height of summer.
Charlevoix’s Flavour Trail (La Route des Saveurs) links about 50 local growers, producers and restaurateurs who create and serve regional products such as ciders, artisanal beers, pâtés, cheeses, spices and fine chocolates.
Grape growers and vintners, and many bistros and restaurants, are a part of Québec’s Wine Route—La Route des vins (www.vinsduquebec.com/trouver-un-vignoble).
On Îles de la Madeleine, the Food Trail and the Tour of Typical Dishes explore local food producers, growers and artisans, and samplings of authentic Island dishes (www.tourismeilesdelamadeleine.com).
Time Out Market Montréal is a first in Canada and a food lover’s dream with a curated mix representing Montréal’s best with 16 food offerings, several bars, a demo kitchen and a cooking academy (www.timeoutmarket.com/montreal).
Förena Spa, set a half-hour from Montréal at the foot of Mont Saint-Bruno, is an exclusive thermal spa resort offering thermotherapy, massage, beauty and restorative treatments. A hotel and restaurant are being developed as part of phase two (www.forena.ca).
Québec City’s Grand Marché is the city’s newest gourmet food destination, giving shoppers a unique opportunity to interact directly with more than a hundred producers and artisans from the region (www.legrandmarchedequebec.com).
In the Laurentians, the Kanatha-Aki Nature Activity Center is offering guided Hok skiing tours of a wild bison reserve, with an overnight stay in a trapper’s cabin or mountaintop hut. Hok skiing is a hybrid of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (www.kanatha-aki.com).
Parc national de la Gaspésie offers 10 new Étoile glamping units in the Mont-Albert and Lac-Cascapédia campgrounds. The park’s protected territory encompasses dense forests, rivers and bare peaks, with perfect opportunities for hiking and wildlife observation (www.quebecmaritime.ca/entreprise/parc-national-de-la-gaspesie/hebergement).
Tremblant’s activity card, valid from May to October, saves users money with a choice of three, five or seven accesses from a selection of 15 activities including watercraft and bike rentals, a virtual reality experience, climbing towers, mini-golf and a panoramic gondola (www.tremblant.ca/things-to-do/activities/activity-card).
In Charlevoix, at Le Reine et le Millionnaire, the new cani-scooter is a cross between a bicycle and a scooter, drawn by one or two dogs. It is like dog sledding through the forest in summer (www.traineauchien.com).
The province’s unique European sensibility flavours the intersection of art, culture and history. This is a big part of the city centres—Montréal and Québec City—with their wealth of museums, galleries and special exhibits.
In Québec City, small music clubs, funky bars, boîtes à chansons (intimate venues for the province’s singer/songwriters) and music festivals like the Québec City Summer Festival (Festival d’été de Québec), one of Canada’s biggest music festivals, contribute to a vibrant arts scene (www.feq.ca/en).
Cosmopolitan Montréal sits at a cultural crossroads, rooted in both Anglo and francophone heritage. The city has put together itineraries to inspire visitors, from nightlife to shopping to annual festivals (www.mtl.org/en).
Montréal abounds with theatre and dance, music and circus arts, and museums and art galleries showcasing everything from cutting-edge works to timeless classics. An underground system of pedestrian passageways, RÉSO, connects Métro stations and corridors filled with boutiques and small shops.
Montréal is renowned for its lively summer gatherings—from jamming sessions to dance fests. In cool contrast, take in a concert at Old Montréal’s Notre-Dame Basilica, a neo-Gothic masterpiece with marvellous acoustics (www.basiliquenotredame.ca/en). Or visit the quays of the Old Port on foot, by Segway or hoverboard, where performances range from reggae to harbour symphonies created with ships’ horns.
Year-round, chic prevails in Old Montréal’s clubs, trendy bistros and the free-spirited Latin Quarter’s cocktail bars. The city teems with bars, discos, microbreweries, cigar lounges, cafés and outdoor terraces.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Outdoor enthusiasts can soak up Québec’s untamed wilderness by visiting the province’s numerous parks. With thousands of crystal-clear lakes and an impressive range of wildlife, they are idyllic for camping, canoeing, fishing, cycling, mountain biking and hiking. In winter, the guarantee of snow creates a paradise for downhill and cross-country skiing, dogsledding and snow-shoeing (www.sepaq.com).
Every August the sky becomes a canvas for the shooting stars of the Perseid meteor showers and the Velan astronomy pavilion at Domaine Saint-Bernard offers regular stargazing sessions (www.tremblant.ca).
Campers can bring dogs along to certain Québec national parks, with the exception of the Anticosti and Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé national parks (www.sepaq.com/animaux/).
Two-wheelers take to “la Route verte,” a 5,300-km (3,293-mi.) web of cycling and multi-use paths that criss-cross the province, creating the largest cycling network in North America.
Spectacular sightlines are the norm at about 300 Québec public golf courses. One of the most challenging is Le Géant at Mont-Tremblant, a master’s 18-hole championship course carved out of the Laurentian landscape.
Chemins d’Eau is a tourist route dedicated to the Ottawa River (the province’s longest river), retracing the steps of the First Nations, explorers and wood barons (www.tourismeoutaouais.com).
In the Laurentian Mountains, north of Montréal, Le P’tit Train du Nord Linear Park is a former railroad track converted into a 232-km (144-mi.) level biking and walking trail—and a cross-country skiing, fat biking or snowmobiling trail in winter—between Saint-Jérôme and Mont-Laurier (www.laurentides.com/en). Or ride a panoramic gondola to the summit of Mont-Tremblant.
Whale watching from Tadoussac, Baie-Sainte-Catherine and Rivière-du-Loup, gets visitors close to nature with sightings of minke, humpback and even the rare blue whale, as do boat cruises from the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula to the seabird sanctuary at Bonaventure Island (www.quebecmaritime.ca).
Nova Lumina is a 1.5-km (0.9-mi.) multimedia nighttime seaside walk under the starry skies at Chandler in the Gaspésie, where the land meets the sky (www.bourgdepabos.com/en/nova-lumina).
Try a nomadic wintertime experience at Tursujuq National Park, located near the shores of Hudson Bay. Nine-day excursions to explore the Inuit way of life include snow-mobiling, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, guided excursions and camping (www.nunavikparks.ca/en/parks/tursujuq).
Ulittaniujalik National Park is a newer park in Nunavik, Québec’s far north region. As Québec’s second largest park, it provides a sanctuary for caribou calving grounds on the expansive George River Plateau (www.nunavikparks.ca/en/parks/ulittaniujalik).
HERITAGE AND CULTURE
Montréal has designed a unique way for anyone with a good helping of curiosity and an interest in heritage to learn about the city. “Montréal en Histoires” is an interactive way to play with history and test knowledge using a free mobile app that guides users through some 100 points of interest. The project includes daytime and nighttime scenarios, including short movies projected on buildings, streets and trees through Old Montréal (www.montrealenhistoires.com).
Québec City is the only walled city north of Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a textbook of 17th and 18th century architecture. Begin with a visit to Battlefields Park, also known as the Plains of Abraham, the site of pivotal clashes between French and English forces (www.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca).
Catch the view from Dufferin Terrace over-looking the St. Lawrence River, or stop for tea at Le Château Frontenac, one of the world’s most photographed hotels (www.quebec-cite.com/en).
One of Canada’s premier community festivals happens in the Old World ambiance of Québec City. The summertime New France Festival (Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France) is a showcase of the roots of francophone culture. Costumed revellers celebrate all that makes Québec unique, from music and history to food and literature (www.nouvellefrance.qc.ca/en).
Québec Aboriginal Tourism is home to the Pow-Wow Trail, a one-stop list of First Nations special events including music, dance, handicrafts and food (www.quebecaboriginal.com).
MUST SEE, MUST DO
The region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is well-known for its premier biking routes, including the Blueberry Trail (Véloroute des Bleuets) encircling a scenic lake (www.veloroutedesbleuets.com/en).
The Banyä Sauna at Nordik Spa-Nature in Outaouais is inspired by a thousand-year-old Russian version of the traditional sauna (chelsea.lenordik.com/en).
Foresta Lumina in the Eastern Township’s Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook is an interactive multimedia trail that wanders along a night-illuminated pathway for a magical experience (www.forestalumina.com/en).
Visitors to Huttopia Canada’s getaways in Sutton experience a serene outdoors stay in chalets and high-end eco-tents tucked into forest settings with a river nearby for swimming (canada-usa.huttopia.com/en).
Try biking above the treetops at Au Diable Vert’s VéloVolant in the Eastern Townships—
a pedal-powered canopy tour on a bike hooked to a cable, following a one-km (0.6 mi.) circuit (www.audiablevert.com/en/vélovolant---canopy-cycle.htm).
Readers who are fans of mystery author Louise Penny can follow the Three Pines Tour near the writer’s home in Québec’s Eastern Townships. The guided tours include sites that were the inspiration behind Penny’s novels (www.threepinestours.com).
Dominated by the highest mountain peaks of southern Québec, the Eastern Townships’ 193-km (120-mi.) Summit Drive reveals one gorgeous panorama after another.
Forged by glaciers, the picturesque Fjord Route follows the winding Saguenay Fjord—one of the longest fjords in the world (235-km/146-mi.)—with a never-ending show of imposing rock faces and majestic capes.
Route du Richelieu’s historic 265-km (165-mi.) transportation road traces both sides of the lovely Richelieu River, encom-passing historic villages, archaeological digs, museums, heritage churches and bucolic landscapes.
The 280-km (174-mi.) King’s Road (Chemin du Roy) is Canada’s oldest roadway, linking Québec City to Montréal along the St. Lawrence River’s spectacular north shore.
Montréal’s Barbie Expo is the largest permanent exhibit of Barbie dolls in the world. More than a thousand one-of-a-kind Barbies are dressed in the haute couture of world-renowned designers including Christian Dior and Diane Von Furstenberg. There are celebrity Barbies—Cher, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Taylor—and movie-themed Barbies like The Wizard of Oz and Cleopatra. Admission is free (www.expobarbie.ca/en).
Park PickLA MAURICIE NATIONAL PARK
The landscape of La Mauricie National Park north of Shawinigan is a quilt of forests, rock and lakes typical of the rugged Canadian Shield. It is an outdoor lover’s dream: wilderness lakes and streams for kayaking and canoe camping; trails for hiking and mountain biking in summer and snowshoeing in winter; and natural pools for a quick dip to cool off. The Parks Canada family-friendly oTENTiks (canvas roof and walls on a wooden frame and floor) sleep five and are equipped with solar lights, barbecue, firepit, lantern and wood stove. Some are open year-round (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/mauricie).
Parks and Historic Sites: www.parkscanada.gc.ca 1-888-773-8888