Every winter Québec City receives a visit from one of the world’s most acclaimed celebrities.
Who you ask?
He’s seven feet tall, 400lbs and loves to dance. Oh, and did we mention he’s made of snow?
Bonhomme is Frosty the Snowman’s famous Canadian cousin and the official representative of the Québec Winter Carnival. Proudly sporting his favorite red tuque (cap) and traditional québécois arrow sash, Bonhomme (which is French for snowman) can be seen all throughout the carnival festivities.
Born in 1954, Bonhomme made his first public carnival appearance January, 9, 1955 and continues to lead the annual celebrations to this day. Each year on the opening night of the festival the mayor of Québec City hands over the city keys to Bonhomme, entrusting the snowy celebrity to take over Québec. When carnival draws to a close Bonhomme bids visitors farewell, only to be seen again at the start of the celebrations in the following year.
Fluent in both English and French, Bonhomme loves to personally welcome all visitors to his frosty party and can often be found giving out hugs and showing off his stellar dance moves.
As such an eminent personality, it is only suitable that Bonhomme live in a castle befitting a winter carnival king. Every year visitors can marvel at his spectacular Ice Palace-one of the most iconic carnival monuments and the prime site for some of the festival’s many activities.
Because Bonhomme is real, it is considered taboo to even think about asking who has worn the bonhomme costume. For the Québécois people Bonhomme is not simply a mascot, but instead the embodiment of the province’s proud and jovial spirit.
Carnival in Québec
With over one million visitors braving frigid temperatures to participate in the celebration each year, the Carnaval de Québec is the largest winter festival in the world (and one of the largest carnivals overall after those in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans). Originally dating back to 1894 and officially reinstated in 1954, the Québec Carnival is a testament to the québécois joie de vivre.
To access all of the official carnival sites and activities, visitors can purchase an effigy-a small pendant depicting Bonhomme which attaches to your jacket zipper. The festival boasts fun activities for any age, from night parades and dog sledding to masquerade balls and ice slides.
Incorporating the winter carnival into your student trip to Québec is the perfect way to introduce your students to authentic French-Canadian culture. To begin planning your trip to the Québec Winter Carnival, reach out to a Prométour Tour Consultant today! Feel free to download our guide below.