A Winter Carnival of Activity
by Hank Levy
With the hint of snow in the air, the festive holiday lights give Quebec a picture postcard attraction from December through to the New Year. The Winter Carnival becomes the focus of locals and visitors from January 28 until February 13. Some of the features, aside from the usual snow related activities, are the International Canoe Race across the icy St. Lawrence River, Dogsled Championship, Car Race on Ice, glittering night parades, International Snow Sculpture competition, and much more. For more information call (418) 649-2608 or visit their website www.quebec region.com.
Continental Airlines has just made it much easier to travel to this exciting city with the first non-stop flights leaving daily from Newark Airport at 8:55 PM in December and at 7:05 PM in January and returning any day of your choice at 10:45 AM. The 11/2 hour flight on their Express Jet makes it very convenient to arrange a quick getaway. The no frills trip on a small jet is perfect for skiing and outdoor lovers and costs only $208 round trip in January with 14 day advance purchase. For more information call 1-800-231-0856.
Quebec has a variety of accommodations to offer. A modern hotel with a great service and a friendly staff is the Dominion Hotel 1912 located at 126 Rue Saint-Pierre, phone 1-888-833-5253. It's just blocks from Old Port and Place Royale in Quebec's historic district. Everyone in our group raved about the beds. In fact, 60% of the 40 rooms available featured king size beds. Room rates start at $129 for queens and $139 for kings (Canadian dollars) during the winter season and breakfast is always included.
Our hosts arranged a special treat one evening when an open air (except for the roof) transit, seating over a dozen people, arrived lead by 2 huge horses to take us through the streets on a drizzly evening, to our restaurant for dinner.
There is no shortage of fabulous places to dine in Quebec. One can choose from quaint bistros and small to mid-sized, romantic places to the more elaborate dining at places like the famous Chateau Frontenoc. One cannot, and should not, pass up visiting the imposing Chateau and if one chooses a fabulous breakfast, is served there for about $15 Canadian or an all-you-can-eat buffet for $37.50 Canadian. One of the reasons that tourism to Quebec and indeed throughout Canada is so popular, is the very favorable exchange rate for U.S. currency. With the U.S. dollar worth about $1.40 Canadian, everything seems very reasonably priced.
Quebec has always been one of our favorite destinations. It is close to home for a foreign city and retains the feel, the look, and the ambiance of a European city. It is thoroughly safe to walk around at any time of day or night and the people are friendly, helpful, and warm.
During the winter, Mt. St. Anne offers both accommodations or activities for the day and just under 1 hour from Quebec. They provide 26 ski trails for downhill which includes all levels. Snowboarding, snowmobiling, and best of all, dog sledding with the cutest huskies you've ever seen.
They can even host conventions (toll free phone: 1-800-463-1568). One can not speak of conventions without pointing out the remarkable all new Quebec Convention Center built just 3 years ago (phone 1-888-679-4000). It features the most magnificent view of Quebec City (especially at night) and is truly a state-of-the-art facility. It easily accommodates groups from 500 to 5,000 and, for sit down screen presentations, up to 10,000 people. They are in sync with the Quebec Tourism office as both are aggressively spreading the word of Quebec being a world class city competing with the best locations on earth for visitors and new business - and quite successfully. During a holiday party hosted by the convention center for visiting event planners and journalists, we saw first-hand that an event can be so much more than a party. Many special effects and a full entertainment program was combined with an excellent sit-down meal for a very impressive evening.
Mr. Claude Pinault, the friendly and knowledgeable CEO of the convention center, believes in combining the best features of a new facility with the excitement of making a convention entertaining and fun. And he is adamant in maintaining the small town courtesy and friendliness that is not only apparent in his staff, but also among the Quebecers at large. That, plus the enchantment of the city makes Quebec an excellent travel choice any time of the year.
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