Winters in Canada can be hard. Freezing temperatures, blustery blizzards, and days so short that they feel like they’re over before they’ve even started don’t do much to boost national morale. There is an upside though, the conditions have inspired Canadians to get out and get active with tons of winter festivals to take part in. From Carnaval in Quebec City to Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, here are our top picks for wintery food fun at festivals across the country.
Jan 27-Feb 12: Carnaval de Quebec – Quebec City, QC
Canada’s favourite winter festival, Carnaval de Quebec, takes over this historic city every winter from the end of January until mid-February. Not only do you get to hang out with Bonhomme, pretty much the coolest snowman ever, you can also warm up with a variety of delicious Quebecois treats. Check out the sugar shack to make your own tire sur la neige (maple taffy on snow), or grab a BeaverTail, because who doesn’t like warm, sugary fried dough, topped with everything from candies to cinnamon and lemon juice? If you’re looking to warm up with some cocktails instead, get your tickets for the Restaurant Partners’ Cocktail, an evening filled with refreshments and eats from local restaurants. There’s also a whiskey and Scotch tasting, pancake breakfast, an ice bar, and more over the course of the festival!
Feb 3-20: Winterlude – Ottawa, ON
For more than two weeks every winter, our nation’s capital comes together to enjoy Winterlude, a festival created in 1979 to celebrate our wintery climate and the culture that comes along with it. Given that 2017 marks Canada’s 150th birthday, the festivities for this year are extra special. Byward Market is hosting several foodie events, including a Grand outdoor ice bar, complete with fire pits to warm up by and a wood-fired pizza oven to get your nosh on. The market is also hosting their 26th annual stew cook-off, as well as a chocolate lover’s tour, so there are plenty of options, both savoury and sweet. After that, you can head across the river to Gatineau to check out their winter beer fest, showcasing plenty of Quebec and Ontario brews. Isn’t it great to be Canadian?
Feb 17-26: Festival du Voyageur – Winnipeg, MB
This 10-day event is the largest winter festival in Western Canada. Learn about the history of the Voyageur, while enjoying the traditional cuisine that the region has to offer. On the festival’s opening day, the event is offering a breakfast on ice, where you can go for a skate while sipping on hot chocolate. There’s also an Acadian night which offers an evening of food, music, and dancing to keep your spirits up during the cold winter months. There’s a Brewmaster’s Lunch hosted by Big Rock February 25th. The menu ranges from kale sauerkraut fritters to curry poutine, with all courses paired with Big Rock beers. If that’s not enough, there’s a sugar shack, snow bar, and more all happening at the festival grounds, Voyageur Park.
Feb 17-26: Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous – Whitehorse, YK
If you’re lucky enough to get the chance to make it up north this winter, add it to your list to check out the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous in Whitehorse toward the end of February. Also known as Yukon Carnival Week, it keeps you busy with everything from snow carving competitions to a hair freezing contest (yes, that’s a thing). There are plenty of other unique events too, like burlesque workshops for the ladies, and a beard growing contest for the men. Fuel up after all of the fun and excitement with a royal feast, pub crawl, Queen’s tea and social, and a Royal Canadian Legion dinner and dance. You can also participate in the flour packing contest, as in, you have to pack hundreds of pounds of flour on your back and carry it across the finish time. Not your cup of tea? Well, you can always take part as a spectator!
Feb 23-Mar 11: Montreal en Lumière – Montreal, QC
Montreal en Lumière is probably one of the most gastronomically-oriented festivals held in Canada each winter. Although it offers a myriad of activities like Nuit Blanche, where Montrealers light up the night in the darkest days of winter, there are a plethora of other food-related events to be had. This year’s featured city is Lyon (home of culinary legend, Paul Bocuse), so expect plenty of guest chefs to take over local restaurants and host dinners showcasing their cuisine. If you don’t want to break the bank, there are also many free activities to participate in. You can’t miss the cheese festival! From February 23 to 25, Quebec cheese producers come together to showcase their cheeses and offer free samples. Now if unlimited free cheese doesn’t cheer you up in the dead of winter, we don’t know what will!