In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Québec is truly an enchanting destination bursting with colourful and illuminated events and markets to ring in the most wonderful time of the year. Here are just a few suggestions to help make the most of the city for a December retreat that is sure kindle the Christmas spirit.
Québec City is a UNESCO World Heritage Treasure boasting cobblestone streets lined with centuries-old buildings in the upper and lower towns (take the funicular between them); visit boutiques, art galleries, and antique shops; explore museums and churches from another age; contemplate impressive frescoes; and marvel at the mighty St. Lawrence River with its majestic ice flows in winter. From quartier Petit-Champlain to Place Royale, follow the enticing aromas wafting from bistros and restaurants, taking a moment to warm up by the fire at one of the warming stations along the way.
Québec City’s historic district boasts multiple 4- and 5-star hotels, first among them the fairytale Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, which has towered high above the cliff and the St. Lawrence River since 1893. Guests will no doubt want to have drinks at Sam and dine at the Champlain restaurant before retiring to one of the impeccably renovated suites.
In the lower town, Auberge Saint-Antoine is a boutique hotel in the Old Port, right near the Petit-Champlain district. A member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux association, the hotel occupies an 18th-century building that has been impeccably preserved. Everything exudes history and refinement, with all the comfort and amenities of home.
Les Lofts du Vieux-Québec offers a breathtaking view from the dome in the St. Laurent Penthouse, and Hotel Port Royal has welcomed none other than the Rolling Stones to its Royal Suite, which occupies the top floor of a former bank and features a giant rooftop patio
And of course, nowhere is the ice as nice as the famous Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) – set to open on Jan. 4 – an ephemeral work of art built entirely of ice and snow and the only one of its kind in North America. Wander through the chapel, bedrooms, and hallways made of snow and ice, admiring the beautiful carvings, and stopping to sip ice cider in one of the ice bars. Consider staying in the Premium Deluxe Suite, which has a private hot tub and sauna.
Table for two
Québec City’s food scene combines French, British, North American, and Indigenous influences and is celebrated in Canada and around the world for its use of local ingredients and Boreal forest flavours. For a culinary experience not soon to be forgotten, try Chez Muffy at Auberge Saint-Antoine; the chef’s counter at Tanière3, a new Relais & Chateaux property; Chef Stéphane Modat’s Le Clan; the venerable institution, Laurie Raphaël; Restaurant La Traite for fine Indigenous cooking; and Le Saint-Amour, a monument to French cuisine.
A centrepiece of the public square, the Place D’Youville Skating Rink has reopened for the season. With brilliant lights and projections, the rink sparkles at night against Old Québec’s historic architecture. In harmony with the holiday season, decorations also enhance the atmosphere. This rink offers free entry and on-site services like skate rentals and sharpening, and with an equipped refrigeration system, skating is available until mid-March.
Other popular options include activities on the slopes (skiing at Mont-St-Anne), in the surrounding forests (dogsledding), on the ground (snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on the Plains of Abraham), in the steam room (have a thermal experience at Strøm Spa), or sky high (helicopter rides over the city, Montmorency Falls and the frozen river).
Perhaps Québec’s most iconic Christmas celebration, the German Christmas Market illuminates Old Québec through Dec. 23. This event captures the grandeur of European Christmas markets, finding its suitable canvas in the historical city. Visitors can indulge in traditional German treats while exploring handmade crafts sold from traditional wooden kiosks as seen in Germany. Moreover, attendees can anticipate impromptu performances and a new festive space next to the Château Frontenac at the Marketplatz of Galeries de la Capital.
Meanwhile, choirs and performances could surprise on any corner along the Petit-Champlain; and anyone is welcome to drop into the Chateau Frontenac to check out its famous Christmas decorations.
First published at Travel Industry Today