February Festivals: Bonhomme is back!


Beloved Bonhomme springs into action on February 1 as his adoring fans once again turn out to see him at the annual Quebec Carnival. (©Julia Pelish/

Story by Staff

Bonhomme’, bonhomme’, sais-tu jouer?
Bonhomme’, bonhomme’, sais-tu jouer?

Well, if you really must know, what Bonhomme is playing is the Quebec Winter Carnival. One of Canada’s most famed and beloved icons is back for a 61st year. His annual carnival features all the usual fun visitors have come to expect, including great events, food, music and of course the Quebec Carnival parade. Nearly 1 million people are expected to turn out for the two-week celebration that begins today, February 1.

While the Quebec Winter Carnival is king, there are other delightful winter festivals happening across the country, including events in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, and Pictou, Nova Scotia. In Ontario there are events happening in Orillia and Ottawa, as well as the  Barrie Winter Fest in near Toronto.

Despite the cold, Montreal is truly a great place to be in February. The High Lights Festival starts on February 21, as well as Montreal/New Music International Festival.

And last but not least, get ready to welcome back Willie in Owen Sound, as the Wiarton Willie Festival approaches on Groundhog Day. We finally get to find out just how much longer this winter is going to last!

Here is’s list of the top festivals happening across the country for February:


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Quebec Winter Carnival
Quebec City
Dates: 1-17
Without question, one of the most important and successful winter carnivals in the world. Even more popular activities have been added over the years, including winter sports, snow sculptures, and activities based on the traditional Québec lifestyle, such as canoe races and dogsled races.

See videos and read comprehensive coverage of the festival in’s Quebec Carvnival section

EDITORS’ PICK!!!  High Lights Festival (En Lumière)
Dates: February 21 to March 3
Montréal en Lumière is one of the largest winter festivals in the world, an annual celebration drawing 900,000 fans to experience the joy of Montréal in winter through a unique program combining performing arts, gastronomy, free outdoor family activities, and a night of exquisitely original discoveries!

EDITORS’ PICK!!!  Winterlude
Dates: Weekends, 1-18
Skate on the world’s largest skating rink on the Rideau Canal, check out the ice sculpture competitions or play at North America’s largest snow playground. There’s fun for the entire family. All sites are open on Family Day.

Montreal/New Music International Festival
Dates: February 21-March 3
Under this year’s theme of Voice and Percussion, this large-scale event will allow you to listen to some of the major figures in Canada’s contemporary music scene, as well as many international guest performers, via more than 50 concerts and activities.


EDITORS’ PICK!!! Frostbite Music Festival
Dates: 15-17
Frostbite celebrates its 35th year with nationally acclaimed acts and a diverse selection of local talent brought together for three days of performances, sessions and workshops.

Canadian Birkebeiner Ski Festival
Dates: 8-9
Canada’s largest classical-format cross-country ski festival, an adventure for outdoor enthusiasts.

Picture this … film festival 
Dates: 11-13
The Ability Media International Awards recognize and celebrate artistic excellence that promotes a more inclusive world. The awards are run by Leonard Cheshire Disability and supported by a creative board of leading arts and media professionals.

Silver Skate Festival
Dates: 15-18
The Silver Skate Festival is the longest running winter festival in the Edmonton. This year’s sporting and recreation events will include a triathlon, long blade skate races and the Kortebaan, a traditional Dutch long blade sprint race. The event is in its 23rd year.

Calgary Mid Winter Blues Fest
Dates: 18-23
Featuring workshops, concerts, dance parties and special events. Starring the world-class talents of Rocky Lawrence and Portland’s leading roots player Lloyd Jones.

Dates: 22-23
Dates: 15-16
Winefest is an all-inclusive event, offering you the chance to sample from hundreds of local and international wines, port, sparkling, and dessert wines while indulging in a gourmet selection of complimentary hors d’oeuvres.

British Columbia

EDITORS’ PICK!!!  Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival
Dates: 1-10
Better hurry, this event is selling out quickly! There’s still time to watch some great films, including Hannah Arendt, Haute Cuisine (Les Saveurs du Palais), Revolution and In the House.

Dates: 3-10
GayWhistler’s WinterPRIDE is the evolution of the annual Gay & Lesbian Ski & Snowboard Festival. Whistler has the greatest vertical/usable terrain for skiing/riding and other winter sports in North America. The ski mecca is consistently ranked in the top five for North American resorts selected by industry magazines such as SKI, SKIING, Powder, TransWorld Snowboarding and more.

Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival 
Dates: February 25-March 3
VanWineFest attracts some of the biggest industry names from around the world and is firmly established as the continent’s premier wine event and among the biggest, best and oldest wine events in the world. It features wine tastings and pairings, gourmet dinners and luncheons, educational seminars and culinary competitions.


Le Festival du Voyageur
St. Boniface
Dates: 15-24
Western Canada’s largest winter festival celebrates Canada’s fur trading era and combines the joie de vivre of the voyageurs with more than 300 music performances, magnificent snow sculptures, historical interpretation of the early 19th century at Fort Gibraltar, live entertainment, traditional dishes, arts and crafts, the voyageur International Sled Dog Classic, a governor’s ball.

Winnipeg Scottish Festival
Dates: 16
This festival offers pipers, drummers, pipe bands and highland dancers the opportunity to compete and receive adjudication from world-renowned judges and instructors and to improve their knowledge, technique and skills in Scottish pipe band music and highland dance.

New Brunswick

Campbellton Regional Sno-Fest
Dates: 21-24
Winter fun, dog and sleigh rides, and fireworks. Oh yeah, and if you love fish … a smelt fry!

Winterfesthiver 2013
Dates: 2-3
From an amazing playground of snow to dazzling sculptures, Winterfesthiver is a great way to come out of hibernation. Enjoy ice slides, a snow labyrinth, sculptures, Polar Bear Games: Bowling, Curling & Golf, Pony Rides & Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides.

Newfoundland & Labrador

Mount Pearl Frosty Festival 
Mount Pearl
Dates: 8-16
Now, as it enters its 31th year, the Frosty Festival has grown into the largest winter event of its kind in the region!

Corner Brook Winter Carnival
Corner Brook
Dates: 15-24
The Corner Brook Winter Carnival is an annual community festival dedicated to the celebration of winter, fostering of community spirit and pride, and encouragement of economic development and tourism.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Snow West Fest
Gros Morne National Park
Dates: 1-3 and 8-9
A celebration of winter featuring snowmobile rides, back-country skiing, ice sculpture demonstrations and a culinary feast with chef Steve Watson. Sherman Downey and the Silver Lining kicked off the event that began on January 31. Be sure to keep an eye out for coverage of Snow West Fest.

Nova Scotia

Pictou Winter Carnival
Dates: 8-10
Live entertainment and fun in the snow!

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Wiarton Willie Festival
Owen Sound
Dates: 1-3
The Wiarton Willie Festival is a three-day celebration of Canada’s favourite groundhog. Every February 2, the tiny town of Wiarton stands on the world’s stage as Wiarton Willie makes his official weather prognostication.

Bon Soo Carnival
Sault Ste. Marie
Dates: 1-10
Celebrate in Sault Ste. Marie as this event enters its fifth season in northern Ontario.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Barrie Winter Fest
Dates: 2-3
Outdoor activities include a polar bear swim, horse-drawn wagon rides, dogsled rides, mini-tube run, lumberjack shows, giant snow slide, ice maze, and more.

Orillia Winter Carnival
Dates: 8-10
Festiviities include Zorb racing, Shivers Ice Castle and Slide and fireworks

Dorset Snowball Winter Carnival
Dates: 15-16
The main focus of Snowball is to provide affordable family-oriented entertainment, to make Dorset a destination, and to bring the community together for a day filled with activity and fun.

EDITORS’ PICK!!! Winterlude 
Dates: 1-18
Celebrate the joys of winter at Winterlude, with three fun-filled weeks in February. Canada’s favourite winter activities are featured across Ottawa and Gatineau at this annual event. Skate on the world’s largest skating rink, check out the ice sculpture competitions or play at North America’s largest snow playground.


Saskatoon Blues Festival
Dates: February 25- March 3
Heading into its 11th year of celebrating the blues, the Saskatoon Blues Society is gearing up in anticipation of once again presenting some of the best musical artists the local, national and international music scene has to offer.


Vicky is the worldly publisher of Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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