Last Updated on December 24, 2023 by Pamela MacNaughtan
Christmas in Quebec City conjures images of fluffy white snow clinging to 18th-century buildings, down-stuffed jackets, cups of piping hot chocolat chaud gripped between mittened hands, and colourful blinking lights. Basically, a French-Canadian version of whatever your favourite Hallmark Christmas movie may be.
Truthfully, Christmas in Quebec City can feel magical. I’ve lived in this city for over five years, and I am still mesmerized by the beauty of Old Quebec during the holiday season, especially in Petit-Champlain and Place-Royale, two of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods. It’s a time of year when a blanket of snow covers the cobblestone streets and the pitched roofs of 18th and 19th-century buildings. Lights are strung across streets and woven through trees, and holiday decorations can be found on almost every street.
The Christmas holiday season is one of the most popular seasons in Quebec City, and planning ahead is highly recommended as hotels fill up quickly – restaurants, too! For the purpose of this guide, the Christmas holiday season runs from the fourth week of November to January 2nd.
things to do in quebec city during the christmas holiday season
Let’s get to it, shall we?! I should note that while many of the things below can be found within the Historic District of Old Quebec, I have also added things from a few other neighbourhoods. If you truly want to experience all the magic that Christmas in Quebec City has to offer, you need to leave the old city walls!
Note: Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) does not open until January, therefore you will not find it below.
Marché de noël allemand de Québec (German Christmas Market in Quebec City) kicks off the holiday season in the city. Beginning November 24, 2022, and running until December 23rd, the heart of the market is in the public square behind Hôtel de Ville (City Hall). Live music, food, handicrafts… it’s all delightful.
Toboggan Festival takes place from December 28th to 31st, with family-friendly events, outdoor ice bars, and nighttime outdoor concerts. It’s a glorious New Year’s celebration held on Grand Allée.
Le Grand Marché de noël is a popular Christmas market with locals, who shop at the market throughout the year for fresh produce, meat, cheese, bread, and beer. During the holiday season, the market is filled with artisans selling all kinds of holiday treats and handicrafts.
Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral is home to the Holy Door and a beautiful church. When open to the public, I highly recommend going inside, whether you’re religious or not.
Cathédrale Holy Trinity is a beautiful historic church near Château Frontenac. During the Christmas holiday season, they often hold concerts, some of which are free to attend.
Toboggan Slide on Dufferin Terrace (beside Château Frontenac) is one of the oldest tourist attractions in the city. Race down the slide in a wooden toboggan and see if you can reach 70km/hr!
Aquarium du Québec is fun for people of all ages, and it’s open year-round. Yay! Visit arctic animals, and watch mealtimes. You can also explore the deep sea, fresh water and salt water pavilions.
Observatoire de la Capitale is open from Tuesday to Friday, and on a clear day, the views of the city are breathtaking, especially in winter. Reservations required. They are closed from December 24th to 28th.
Montmorency Falls in winter is a snowy icy delight. The cable car at the falls is generally closed in winter, but during the holiday season, it’s open from December 26th to January 3rd, yay! Reservations are recommended – you can make them online here.
Terrasse Pierre Dugua-de-mons has one of the best views in Quebec City. From here, you can snap postcard-like photos of Château Frontenac, Old Quebec, and the Saint-Lawrence River.
Holiday/Christmas walking tours are a good way to learn about the city and see some of the popular holiday sites. The Christmas Magic tour in Old Quebec and the Christmas Food tour is the most popular options. You can also hire a private guide.
Guided Tours of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac are offered throughout the year, but during Christmas in Quebec City, this historic holiday is filled with gorgeous decorations. Plus, the winter views from the hotel are spectacular. Available on Christmas day.
Evening Gourmet Tour (5 Course Dinner) is possibly the most luxurious food tour in Quebec City. I’ve enjoyed this tour through Old Quebec in summer, but Christmastime adds a bit of holiday magic. Plus you can do this on Christmas day!
Private photo sessions are a fun way to capture your Christmas in Quebec City. There are a few photographers who offer this service in the city, however, Sunny is one of the best. Be sure to contact her early as her schedule fills up quickly!
Nordic spa treatments and thermal experiences can be found in Old Quebec, as well as just outside the city limits. Strøm spa is the closest and the biggest. Halte O Spa is further out, and worth the drive.
Le Boutique de noël is a year-round Christmas store near Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral. Pop in for glittery trinkets, ornaments, and decorations to commemorate your holiday trip to Quebec City.
artisans + producers: quebec city christmas shopping ideas
There are plenty of shops and boutiques to visit in Quebec City, but in my opinion, the best places to shop are ones that support local artisans and producers – whether there are from Quebec City or elsewhere in the province.
Petit-Champlain is the oldest shopping street in Quebec City, and absolutely gorgeous in winter when snow covers the 18th and 19th-century buildings. It’s filled with artisanal shops and restaurants. Here are some of my favourites:
- Boutique Amimoc – Known for their high-quality Quebec-made boots and mocassins.
- Flamand Sculpteur – An talented wood sculptor.
- Charlevoix Pure Lane – Sweaters, hats, mittens and other goods made with sheep’s wool from the Charlevoix region.
- Fromagerie Ferme Audet – Producer of goat cheese, and goat’s milk toiletries.
- Boutique Oclan – Clothing boutique, famous for its Fucklamode apparel.
- Les Ptits Mosüs – Children’s clothing boutique
Les Trouvailles de Jules is a small boutique/épicerie on rue Sainte-Anne near artist alley. It’s shelves are filled with artisanal souvenirs, from Quebec terroir to handicrafts. Including, at times, gorgeous plates by ceramicist, Patrick Lebond.
Article 721 in Limoilou is one of my favourite places for Quebec-made products, from prints and clothing to jewllery, skin care, and art prints. They also have a small collection of vintage home goods and second-hand clothing.
food + drink during christmas in quebec city
Quebec City is a delicious culinary destination, with many restaurants offering seasonal menus utilizing locally grown ingredients. While it is possible to walk into some restaurants and get a table, reservations are highly encouraged, especially if you’re dining during Christmas in Quebec City.
Most restaurants will be closed on Christmas day, but there is a handful that will be open*.
- La Bûche – 49, rue Saint-Louis | 418-694-7272 | LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
- Maison Livernois – 1200, rue Saint-Jean | 581-742-2555 | LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
- Champlain Restaurant – Château Frontenac | 418-692-3861 | LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
- Chez Muffy – Auberge Saint-Antoine | 8, rue Saint-Antoine | 418-692-1022 | LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
- Le Saint-Amour – 48, rue Sainte-Ursule | 418-694-0667
- Chez Boulay – 1110, rue Saint-Jean | 418-380-8166
- Pied Bleu – 179, rue Saint-Vallier Ouest | 418-914-3554 | women-owned (couple)
- Birria & Basta – 802, rue Saint-Joseph Est | 418-524-1462 | LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
*note: the above restaurants may change their minds about opening on Christmas day, it is best to make bookings online as soon as you can.
Outside of Christmas day, there are many restaurants to try in Quebec City, these are among my current favourites.
Hono Izakaya is on rue Saint-Joseph Est and serves delicious Japanese small plates. They have good cocktails and an impressive sake selection.
Bistro L’Origyne in Place-Royale is known for its seasonal menus filled with foods made from local ingredients, many of which are organic. Vegan options are available.
Battuto is one of the most coveted restaurants in Quebec City. They release new reservation spots every couple of months and they book up very fast!
Soup et Cie in Limoilou is a favourite in winter, with its big bowls of flavourful soups from around the world. I’m a lover of the Mexicanne especially.
Faite à l’os is one of the best barbecue restaurants in the city. My mouth is watering thinking of their bacon, roasted chicken and ribs. They have Québécois foods as well.
Don Vegan in Vieux Port is one of the newest vegan restaurants in the city It has an eclectic vibe and an excellent menu – even non-vegans will find something to enjoy here.
Le Fin Gourmet is worth the trip to Saint-Sô. The menu changes regularly and the chef, in my opinion, is a genius. It’s run by a mother-daughter team, which I love.
beers, cocktails, and wine
Quebec craft beer is practically an institution, and there are a few breweries in Quebec City to enjoy while you’re in town.
- Korrigane Brasserie Artisanale is a female-owned microbrewery in the neighbourhood of Saint-Roch. They brew seven different beers. The food menu here is excellent as well.
- La Barberie is on the outskirts of Saint-Roch. It has 12 beers on tap, and several others which can be bought by the can or bottle. The menu is a handful of snack items.
- La Souche in Limoilou has a staggering amount of beers, 66 in total. Some are only available in summer, and others are only available in winter. The food menu is very good here.
- Noctem Artisans Brasseurs in Saint-Roch has 12 beers on tap, all with cat-like names. The food menu is good and offers some vegetarian dishes.
- Griendel Brasserie Artisanale has 14 beers on tap and one cider. The space is big with floor-to-ceiling windows. The food menu is quite good.
Pub l’Oncle Antoine in Place-Royale is my favourite bar in the city, this is where I drink most often. Its cave-like atmosphere is part of its charm. Pub des Borgia is a sister bar located near the Breakneck Stairs.
jjacques is a speakeasy and oyster bar. The cocktails here are excellent, and the food menu is superb.
L’Atelier on Grand Allée is known for its craft cocktails and sophisticated vibe.
Justine in Vieux-Port is another speakeasy in the city. The cocktails are good, and the menu is filled with seafood and other dishes made with local ingredients.
best hostels in quebec city for christmas travellers
It’s Christmas, indulging comes with the territory, right?! Whether you spend your cold hard cash on experiences and yummy eats or luxurious digs, is up to you. Thankfully, there are plenty of hotels and guesthouses in Québec City to meet every budget.
That being said, if you are looking for a sparkly Christmas-y vibe, then the following hotels are an excellent choice!
- Château Frontenac – from the decorations to the overall luxurious vibe of the hotel, this is truly a magical place to sleep. The views of Old Québec and the Saint-Lawrence River help too. LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
- Auberge Saint-Antoine – Located in Vieux-Port this luxury boutique hotel is close to the old city and offers rooms with insanely comfy beds and pretty views. LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
- Hôtel Nomad – Located near Château Frontenac, this small boutique hotel has themed rooms, each one beautiful and luxurious in its own way.
- Hôtel Manoir Victoria – Close to the action on rue Saint-Jean, this boutique hotel has a modern-contemporary vibe, as well as a pool and spa. A lovely base for a Christmas holiday.
- Hôtel PUR – Located in the heart of Saint-Roch, this hotel has comfortable rooms and a decent restaurant. It’s close to many restaurants, bars, and boutiques. You can walk to Old Québec City in about 20 mins. LGBTQIA2S+ safe space
- Hôtel 71 – Across the street from Musée de la Civilization, Hôtel 71 is a beautiful boutique hotel with views of the Saint-Lawrence River and Old Québec. The rooms are spacious and the beds are quite cozy!
- Monsieur Jean – A new hotel in Old Québec City, Monsieur Jean is located across the street from Pub Saint-Patrick. The hotel has a modern decor with a surrealist twist, the rooms are spacious and the location is fabulous.
Looking for something different? Check out hotel deals in Québec City.
planning christmas in quebec city
The key to having a fabulous Christmas in Quebec City is to relax and have fun and do some planning ahead. As I mentioned at the top of this post, booking hotels and restaurants early are highly recommended. If you’re driving to Quebec City, I recommend parking in a parking garage or using a hotel valet, rather than trying to park on the street – which can be quite challenging in winter.
Here are a few quick tips for your holidays in Quebec City
- Wear ice cleats when walking around, the streets can be very slippery here. I bought boots with them built-in, but you can buy slip-on versions as well.
- Bring plenty of warm clothing and dress in layers. A warm jacket, snow pants, and good boots are mandatory for surviving winter in Quebec City.
- Order an uber or taxi from a warm place. There are times when they can take a while to arrive, especially during the holidays.
- If your hotel has a concierge, utilize them! They can sometimes get you into restaurants, spas, and theatre performances.
- Learn some French words before you arrive, a simple Bonjour and a smile can go a long way.
- Tipping is customary in Quebec. The base is generally 15%, good service is 20% and excellent is above that. Please, please, please remember to tip your servers, they need that to survive.