Palace of Snow and Carved Ice
Quebec’s Hôtel de Glace stands amid snow-covered hills like an icy citadel in a fairy tale. The hotel’s domes and columns have been molded from 500 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow—the same materials used to carve the interior’s sparkling chandeliers and one-of-a-kind sculptures. The structure is as intricate as a snowflake and as ephemeral: the hotel closes its doors by late March, and by the time summer rolls around, the frozen palace has completely melted away.
Upon arrival, you can sip welcome cocktails at the gleaming ice bar. To warm up, head outside to the nordic spa’s hot tubs and sauna, which stay open from 9 p.m. until 9 a.m. From noon to 5:30 p.m., guided tours reveal intricacies of the hotel’s construction. Each ice-walled standard guest room has a bed made from a thick slab of ice topped with wooden slats, a mattress, and nordic sleeping bags certified for subarctic temperatures to help keep you warm and dry. As sunrise transforms the hotel’s exterior into a shell of glittering crystals, the Celsius Pavilion’s restaurant serves a piping-hot American breakfast.
Quebec City, Quebec: Centuries-Old City with Annual Public Festivals and Historic Attractions
Home to more than half a million mostly French-speaking inhabitants, Quebec’s capital city ranks among the oldest in North America. Founded in 1608, Old Quebec—now a UNESCO World Heritage site—is surrounded by the only city walls north of Mexico on the North American continent that are still standing. Within these ramparts, you’ll find cobblestone streets and examples of 17th-century colonial architecture. Be sure to visit the neoclassical Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral to see its soaring nave adorned with gold moulding.
Leading up to Mardi Gras each year, Quebec City hosts the Winter Carnival for two weeks; the population of the city explodes with visitors streaming in to see parades, outdoor shows, and elaborate ice sculptures. Another big annual event is Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24), an official holiday celebrated with concerts, fireworks displays, and other forms of entertainment.
Year-round attractions include the majestic Montmorency Falls; the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, dedicated to preserving Québécois art from all eras; and the Ursuline Convent, which was founded in 1639 and is one of the oldest women’s institutions of learning in the Western Hemisphere.