Feb 15, 2015

Carnaval de Quebec

We got to visit the Carnaval d'hiver in Quebec City this year, which happened to correspond with Presidents Day weekend and, roughly, with Reid's birthday.  So we combined them all into an amazing family foreign-vacation-weekend-festival-birthday-celebration extravaganza.  Here are some highlights, (round 1). 

First, we stopped for poutine as soon as we arrived in Saint George.  It was delicious.  The place has a little fromagerie inside (the white the window behind Reid is a huge vat of churning milk).





We stayed in an Auberge (Youth Hostel) in the vieux ville.


The first night we ate croissant au chocolate.
 

The next day we saw ice architecture, lots of it.






Ice Chairs!



It was cold.  But hot soup was plentiful.

This is the Palais de Bon Homme, the Mascot of Carnaval.

Reid, Liam and Berty (the trusty stroller) silhouetted against the ice palace.


Inside an ice palace four-foot-negative-space snow flake carvings are pretty common, you see.
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This place was so rad.



Technically, we are also rad (see Figure 1).
Figure 1.  We are rad.


The kids' play ice castle was inside of the adults' ice castle inside of the actual historical castle (or nearly so).  Awesome.


Lounge chairs inside an ice palace gives new meaning to the timeless phrase "chill-axin'."



The trees of light were otherworldly.


And then we saw the parade.  Wow.  These were some of the ice queen's dogs or wolves who pulled her dogsled or chariot.  They were gorgeous beyond belief.  This picture ruins the magical feeling these huge puppets created.


Finally, just as little fingers and toes were about to be frost-bitten, we got to Bon Homme, and the culmination of the entire festival.  What a dude.


Of course, snow sculptures.






And, hockey.  Liam is ALL ABOUT hockey now.  He's practicing his moves all the time in the Auberge.



Gotta take some time out to hit the playground, though.


And snowboarding. Reid and Liam got free snow boarding lessons!  Daddy was jealous.


 
And tubing, Olympic scale.











And dogsleds!  Katie and I got to drive, and Liam and Reid got to ride!

And, hand-crank ice racing carts.



And, crazy winter-carnival people.




Katie's notes: Things I liked about Canada's Carnaval:
  • Virtually no commercial advertising/though some generous commercial sponsorship. 
  • Good appreciation of art. 
  • The above two points made for a great parade.
  • Once you pay your $15 to get in, that's it--no one hounding you for money. All the activities above (except the dog sledding) are free.
  • Canadians have gorgeous and rugged winter clothing. Huge boots, large parkas with hoods and faux fur, layers upon layers, beautiful kids' clothes, bulky scarves to bury their faces in.
  • Games and participation in activities is neither micromanaged, nor controled by concern over safety. This equals AWESOME slides, downright scary ice-toboggan courses, and generally excellent outdoor recreation.
  • Free hot drinks were....guess. Nope, not hot chocolate. No, not coffee, but steaming and wonderfully salty chicken broth.
  • Oh, and it's so fun to be speaking French!
 To be continued...