Quebec City held its first winter carnival in 1894. It was an elaborate celebration that provided people with relief from the cold harsh winter. In the sixty years that followed these winter carnivals were organized periodically. It wasn't until 1955 that a group of local businessmen decided that an annual carnival would be a good way to stimulate the economy during the long winter months. The Quebec Carnival grew to become Quebec City's third-largest industry, far surpassing its organizers dreams. The Carnivals activities reflect the character and the tastes of the modern-day people.
They also include many of Quebec most famous traditions. Beautiful snow sculptures as well as the traditional canoe race across the mighty St. Lawrence River are as spectacular and as popular as ever. Since 1955, the Quebec Winter Carnival was recognized as the World's biggest winter celebration, and is the third largest carnival, after those in Rio and New Orleans. Today Quebec City's historic streets are filled with people of all ages, anxious to experience the joys of winter at the world-famous Quebec Carnival. The Quebec Carnival offers a wide variety of sporting events.
The legendary International Canoe Race, a popular tradition since the very first Carnival, is a true test of courage and determination. Teams from around the world attempt to cross the mighty St. Lawrence River between Quebec City and Levis must battle ice floes, treacherous currents, and freezing temperatures. There's also something called the Roll in the snow, for participants dressed only in a bathing suit.
The provincial dogsled racing Championship called " La Grande vireo ", the Soapbox Derby, the Car Race on ice and the Cross Country skiing " Classic " of the Quebec Winter Carnival are jus some of the activities at the Quebec Winter Carnival. The Carnival has brightly-lit night parades which are the most colorful part of its program. Each year, more than 500, 000 spectators bundle up to attend the exciting event which features fabulous floats, smartly dressed marching bands, and clowns. Elaborate parades also wind through the streets of City, with music and enchantment. The International Snow Sculpture is one of the Carnival's most popular activities and essentially its finest art exhibit. This event has attracted sculptors from around the globe, who have created splendid and imaginative works.
In 1998, 21 countries took part in the International category. Despite its severe northern climate, Quebec City is a popular winter tourist destination. Hundreds of Thousands people participate in the Carnivals activities each year. Of these, 60 000 come from outside Quebec province, thereby providing sizeable revenue for local hotels and restaurants. The Carnival is a driving force in Quebec's tourist industry. A 1997 study conducted by Le Groupe Leger et Leger indicated that the economic impact of the Quebec Winter Carnival could be evaluated at $48 millions.
The Quebec Winter Carnival has many activities for all ages. Activities range from simple exhibits to spectacular exhibits of ice sculptures. You can take part in games and enjoy outside sports and cultural events with yours friends and family.