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When is the best time of year to travel to Quebec City?

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Old 06-15-2008, 03:13 AM
Ideal Ideal is offline
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Default When is the best time of year to travel to Quebec City?

In summer, the temperature in the Quebec City region does occasionally get up to 30°C (85° F) and over, but summers are generally mild; nights that can get fairly cool outside. July often sees a 2 weeks long heat wave, with tropical-like days and nights. Temperatures start cooling off in late August and by late fall, the average temperature is down to 5-10° C (40-50° F). Spring can come slowly in this part of the world but visitors in April and May should find temperatures from 10-15°C (50-60° F).

Winter is Quebec City's most famous season, in part because of the world-famous Winter Carnival (Carnaval de Québec) that takes place every February. Thousands of people brave the temperatures, which often sink to -10°C (15° F) or below, for the carnival and for Quebec's many winter sports opportunities. This is a fun, four-season destination, but be sure to check area weather reports before you go so you can bring the proper clothing.

Quebec has virtually rainless winters (winter is the longest season over here). Québec City is one of the top world cities for the variation in temperature observed within the same day in wintertime, and this should be taken in consideration if you are visiting during that season: a 20°C (30°F) drop on a given day is fairly common, the city is windy all-year long and thus the windchill effect ("facteur de refroidissement éolien") is given in weather reports every day, on the radio as well as on TV and internet forecasts. Dress 'in onion's peels' (layers), do not think you will manage if wearing running shoes as may be the case in other provinces, and you are going to be OK. Do not let the raw numbers scare you : -25°C has nothing to do with the same number in Europe; our winters are dry, making the cold very different, and more enjoyable than the humid, bone-freezing cold met in Europe.

As for the other seasons, it does not rain more or less often in Québec City than in any other city in the country. Some summers may see more rain than others, which is not a Quebec-only phenomenon. Winters being so long, Quebecers are notorious for the number and variety of their festivals in summertime. See Quebec Festivals and Events for festivals and events in the province. Also check out Québec's Summer Festival, held every July. Both sites are bilingual and have a search function.

Fall may be Quebec's most famous season; although winter has its fans for the Québec Winter Carnival in February, or the lengthy duration of the ski season (both alpine and cross-country), the fall is certainly well sought after. The spectacular changes in the foliage attract many tourists in late September ? roughly from the 3rd week of September to the 2nd week of October; some years see an early beginning for the change in foliage, some years see a late start for it. Once the leaves are not that much interesting to see anymore and start falling, we see the arrival of several thousands of snow geese migrating south. Cap Tourmente (a Ramsar site), easily reached from Québec City, is a national wildlife site where one could observe them; so many of them can be seen, it looks like snow on the ground! They could be observed in springtime as well, when migrating north for nesting. Cap Tourmente has 20 km of hiking trails, and over 300 species of birds.

Spring (April) is the shortest season, and is perfect for tasting fresh maple syrup and maple toffee (hot syrup on the snow); parties are held in 'sugar shacks' (''cabanes à sucre''). There are small traditional ones, or bigger installations welcoming large groups of tourists and locals as well. There are also a few of these big installations open all-year round in the province, for off-season tourists : for a few dollars, they will make you taste the toffee by pouring some hot maple syrup on artificial snow (one could choose to buy maple toffee in some supermarkets instead - the really good ones contain nothing but maple syrup, and must be stored in a cool place at all times - fridge or freezer. It does not travel). Unlike Europe, or even the rest of North America, the spring is very shortlived in the province, and is more of a snap-quick transition period between the long winter and the summer. Since we cannot rely on the benefits from the Gulf Stream, blooming comes very late ? people who stay long enough to see the change from winter to summer can hardly believe it (and this is particularily true with Québec City): it literally turns from all-white to all-green very rapidly.
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