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Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions

Debunking the Myths of Organizing an Event in Québec City during Winter

If there is any city in North America that knows how to pull off a conference or convention in the middle of winter, it’s Québec City. After all, the city gets an average snowfall of 400 cm (that’s over 13 feet!) every year. 

No, you need not readjust your font size. You read correctly. And above all, don’t gasp. A measly little 400 cm does not cause Québec City to come to a standstill. In fact, it’s pretty much business as usual!

Event specialists at Québec City’s official meeting and convention bureau, Québec City Business Destination, will tell you in all earnestness—and with Clint Eastwood’s grit—it would take a snow apocalypse to make local suppliers and venues even bat an eyelash.

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Just ask Leanne Calderwood. Ms. Calderwood is Vice President of Global Accounts at ConferenceDirect and an expert in helping event planners choose the right host cities, accommodations, and venues for large-scale conferences and conventions. She was in Québec City in February 2019 on a familiarization  trip and got stuck in one of the biggest snowstorms of the year; over 40 cm fell in a single day, smashing records and blanketing the city in white.

And Ms. Calderwood lived to tell about it—and rave about it.

“We were about 15 event planners and specialists on this fam trip. On February 12, it started to snow heavily and fast,” she explained. While uncommon in your standard run-of-the-mill snowstorms in Québec City, many flights out of the City were grounded, inciting some delegates to rebook their departures on trains.   

Not Ms. Calderwood. “I decided to make the most of it! After all, it was snowing out, everything was sooooo romantic, and it was Carnival time in Québec City!” Ms. Calderwood pointed out that the city in winter takes the idyllic factor and multiplies it tenfold. “Winter in Québec City is so authentic and so unique. When is any event attendee going to see that type of snow in a lifetime? It’s definitely a North American host city that should be on any planner’s bucket list.”

Braving the weather, she walked around the downtown core, took in the sites, worked in the hotel lobby with a crackling fire place. “Seriously, apart from the blustery winds and snow, the city kept humming along. For the extra time I stayed there, it was awesome. I would have stayed longer if I could have!”

 

Quebec City in Winter Credit: Yves Tessier Zoom

Of course, myths run rampant as to winter in Québec City. Here are a few of the more amusing ones:

  • You can only get around town in snowmobiles and by dogsleds. You would be wise to hire a local trapper to navigate through Old Québec’s snowy cobblestone streets.
  • Power outages are common. Better stick to gas lamps and candles! [pause] OMG! What about the Wi-Fi? IS there Wi-Fi?!?
  • If there are no telecommunications, the only way you can contact the outside world is through carrier pigeons. Tough-as-nails carrier pigeons.
  • Restaurants shut down. Get ready to forage and hunt for food.
  • Venues remain closed. Turn your after-hours cocktail reception into a bonfire with a singalong. In French.

The list goes on and on. Yet, that infamous list can’t be farther from the truth.

Savvy event planners know: organizing a conference or convention in Québec City in wintertime has many advantages. For one, the city features an avalanche of unforgettable winter experiences for event attendees. If you are looking to hit the event appeal and attendee engagement out of the snow park, Québec City is where it’s at.

For example, the Québec Winter Carnival offers several packages for groups attending a convention or conference at the Québec City Convention Centre. There are several top Québec City ski destinations located just minutes from the downtown core for adventure-infused off-sites. In addition, winter activities abound in Québec City: delegates will have sub-zero time for being listless. Ms. Calderwood highly recommends that planners go off the beaten path and blaze snow trails by organizing a conference or convention in Québec City. “The city comes alive in the snow—and that effervescence simply cannot be found anywhere else.”

Don’t shrink away from the snow. You might just find that those mighty snowflakes can help you design an event that is truly out of this world!

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