By Marie Asselin
December 08, 2014
Philip Scalia / Alamy

When warmer spring days arrive in Quebec City, restaurant and bar owners rush to clear the snow off their terraces and setup tables that are immediately snatched by eager patrons. You see, winter is long, snowy, and cold here, so in the spring, the city feels like it’s waking up from slumber. Above freezing temperatures and warm sunrays mean people go out smiling, crowding the streets again and gearing up for the busy months to come. In fact, the many festivals filling the summer calendar are in large part responsible for the reputation of Quebec City’s inhabitants—who show a cheerful disposition that visitors like to call “joie de vivre.” The city hosts several world-renowned events during the summer months, and the Québécois take advantage of these occasions to celebrate these warm and mostly sunny months, which seem to slip by much too quickly. But falling temperatures are no reason to give up on the festivities: one of our most famous festivals, the Winter Carnival, takes place in the heart of the cold season.

Festival d'Été de Québec

Quebec City completely transforms early July every year: the city center is bursting with energy, the terraces are jam-packed, and people venture out every night to attend the numerous shows in one of North America’s largest music festivals. Spanning 11 days, over 300 shows are played on 10 stages, including at the largest venue, the Plaines d’Abraham, where up to 85,000 people gather to listen to the biggest names in music.

Quebec Winter Carnival

Winter is an integral part of our identity—so naturally, we have a festival to celebrate it! Taking place in the middle of February, often the coldest month of the year, the Carnival draws us out of our cozy homes to take part in dozens of outdoor activities, including the spectacular canoe race on the St. Lawrence River and the famous night parades. It’s a fun family-oriented event and a great way for visitors to experience our winter.

New France Festival

If you happen upon the Old Port in Quebec City in early August, you’ll find yourself traveling 400 years in the past. This is the New France Festival, celebrating the historical period when the first European settlers arrived in America. Period costumes, public performances, guided historical tours, and parades will be enjoyed by young visitors, history-buffs, or all those who enjoy a festive atmosphere.

Festival International de Jazz de Québec

This fall music festival began very humbly a few years ago but quickly became a must-see. Some 80 artists perform in numerous bars, concert halls, and churches in the region, places whose muted atmosphere offer an ideal setting to enjoy the talent of musicians and singers from all over the world.

Festibière de Québec

Undoubtedly the friendliest and most informal festival of all, the Festibière de Québec is the meeting point for all lovers of Québécois beer. Participants stroll around the site, beer mug in hand, tasting products from nearly 40 microbreweries as well as ciders and nibbles concocted by local restaurants and producers. To add to the atmosphere, a stage is set up for a lineup of performances by musicians and DJs.