Planning to spend Christmas in Quebec City? Bienvenue! You’re in the right place.
As the fall season in Quebec wraps up, the holiday festivities start up pretty quickly. Starting in mid-November, Quebec City turns into a festive, lit up winter wonderland. The downtown (Old Quebec) is a UNESCO World Heritage Sight with 400 year old buildings – you can imagine how pretty they are all decorated for the Christmas season.
Its for this reason that Quebec City at Christmas is one of my favourite places to be in Canada at that time of year. While its much cooler than the neighbouring province, Ontario, Quebec City is worth a visit – especially at Christmastime.
So, let’s jump in – Christmas in Quebec City!
Christmas Markets in Quebec City: What You Need to Know
Did you know that there are two Christmas markets in Quebec City? Most people know of the one – the more famous one, but there are in fact two different markets that you should make your way to while you’re in Canada’s oldest city.
The most famous of the two holiday markets is the Quebec City German Christmas Market, open from mid November until mid-December and held outdoors, and the second is the Grand Christmas Market, held indoors from late November until Christmas Eve.
Both Christmas markets in Quebec City are two of the most important events. (There are dozens of other festivals and events held in Quebec City year-round) – read my post on festivals in Quebec City to find others.
1. The German Christmas Market (La Marché de Noël Allemande)
November 23rd to December 22nd, 2023
The German Christmas Market is the most famous Christmas Market in Quebec City, and it has events during the day as well as at night. It’s open from 11am to 9pm on most days.
When making your travel plans, be sure to keep the opening days in mind. The German Christmas Market is closed between Mondays and Wednesdays, but open from Thursday through Saturday until 9pm, and until 6pm on Sundays.
So, if you’re coming to Quebec City to visit the German Christmas Market, just make sure you’re in town between Thursdays and Sunday since those are the only days that its open.
See our complete guide to the German Christmas Market below.
Tip: Guests visiting the German Christmas Market in Quebec City this year are encouraged to bring reusable bags, and their own cups or thermoses. This will reduce the use of single-use plastic and other items.
2. The Grand Christmas Market (Le Grande Marché de Noël)
November 24th – December 24th, 2023
The Grand Christmas Market is held indoors at the Grand Marché de Québec, and has over 200 vendors which sell similar items to what you might see at the outdoor market – crafts, gifts, food items, Christmas decorations, and more – however, based on our recent experience this year, it is mostly food items.
There are lots of ‘food’ or consumable gifts you could get for people for Christmas such as candles, jams, soup in a jar, and things like that. We also enjoyed sitting down with a cup of coffee and crossants.
I’ll admit the Grand Marché is not quite as picturesque or “festive” as the German Christmas Market, since its indoor, but it’s a great way to escape the cold, find a lot of gems and artisan items made from local small businesses, and do some Christmas shopping.
Knowing some French might be useful at the Grand Marché; not all the vendors speak perfect English.
So, you’re looking to shop in warmth, then be sure to head to the Grand Christmas Market in Quebec City. Its open from 9am every morning, and closes at 6pm on weekdays, and 5pm on weekends.
If you plan to spend time at the German Christmas Market in the evening like I do, the Grand Christmas Market is an option for during the day, since it isn’t open evenings.
Le Grand Marché is a historic food building, and seen as a gourmet food destination. There are bakers, chocolatiers, cheesemakers, pastry chefs and fruit and vegetable producers that sell food year round, all day every day.
How to Get to the Marché de Noël
While the German Christmas Market is held in the city centre and is highly walkable, the Grand Christmas Market is located in the outskirts of the city. The exact address is 250-M, boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel, Québec (Québec) G1L 5A7
Unfortunately, it would take an hour to walk to the Grand Marché from Old Town, so its probably easiest to drive or take an Uber there. If you drive, there is parking provided at p4 which is right in front of the Grand Marché building. There are 350 spaces and parking is free for your first 2 hours. (We personally only stayed about an hour.)
See the official Grand Marché website for more options for getting to the Christmas Market.
Things to Do at the German Christmas Market
Here’s everything you need to know about the German Christmas Market in Quebec City
The German Christmas Market consists of so many family-friendly things to do, and is one of the best things to do in Quebec City with kids during the time that its open.
1. Shop the vendor markets
You can’t visit the German Christmas Market without doing a little shopping. There will be crafts, souvenirs, gift ideas, knit items, and of course food, and hot drinks.
Don’t forget your reusable bag, so you have something to carry your purchases in.
One thing to keep in mind about this German Christmas Market – the vendors aren’t all in the same area, like at other Christmas Markets around the World. Instead, there are different locations where you can find vendors that are apart of the German Christmas Market.
This map shows you where all the different sites for the German Christmas map are – there are six sights in total.
2. Visit the Château du Père Noël
The Chateau de Père Noël in Quebec City is a beautiful ‘meet Santa’ display with the Chateau Frontenac as its backdrop. Santa will meet with children, hear about their Christmas wishes and give them a candy cane – plus you have the opportunity for some great photos.
Also, bonus – Santa in Quebec City bilingual! We speak French as a second language in our family, so we chose to speak French since its not something we can do very often in Ontario. However, you can speak whichever language you choose to Santa.
Santa is not in town every day – only certain days – typically Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in two different slots each day. There is sometimes a line up, so be sure to bundle up so you don’t get cold waiting. See the December 2023 Santa schedule in Quebec City here:
3. Carriole du Père Noël
Pile your kids into Santa’s sleigh and get adorable family photos of your family sitting in the sleigh with the historic city in the background.
You can find Santa’s sleigh right on Rue Petite Champlain – there are actually two or three of them to get photos taken at. There is a beautiful set up there, so be ready to take a lot of cute family photos. Sometimes when its busy, there might be a short line.
4. See a puppet show
There are live puppet shows – the old fashioned kind -right in Old Quebec during the German Christmas market. The puppet shows are held at Theatre Platz, which is on Rue St -Anne.
Right beside the puppet show is the KinderChalet, which serves food. So it might be an option to grab a snack for your child while the puppet show is on!
Pro Tip: I recommend downloading the Quebec City Christmas Market site map, which shows you where everything will be taking place. This makes it easy to see where everything it is, and saves time trying to get between attractions. You can find the printable map here.
Things to do in Quebec City at Christmas
(Besides the Christmas Markets)
Quebec City at Christmas is one of the most picturesque places in North America. Having spent Christmases in multiple countries including my own (Canada) I’m so impressed with how Quebec City does Christmas, and if you’re going to be there in the weeks leading up to Christmas, count yourself in for a treat!
Besides the Christmas markets, here are other activities to take part in during Christmas in Quebec City.
1. Go ice-skating at Place d’Youville
If you enjoy ice skating, then skating at Place d’Youville should be on your bucket list during Christmas in Quebec. The lit up rink at Place d’Youville is a gorgeous setting both during the day, and at night.
The rink is open from 10am until 8pm each day. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday its open a bit later – until 10pm.
Of course, the opening of the rink is very weather dependent. Like anywhere else, they rely on cold enough weather.
Each day, the City of Quebec will update on their website whether the rink is open or closed, depending on the weather conditions. There is also livestream of what Place d’Youville looks like at any given moment that you can view here.
Good to Know: Skate rental at Place d’Youville is $10 for adults, and $5 for kids. Helmets are free of charge. There are also washrooms on site that you can use. There is both indoor and outdoor paid parking nearby, but you can also walk there from most Old Town locations in about 15 minutes.
If you’re looking for other places for outdoor ice skating in Quebec City, there’ also a skating rink right next to the museum at the Plaines d’Abraham that opens on December 14th. It’s completely free, and is more of a skating path, so its best if you only want to skate in one direction. More info here.
2. Stroll through Petit Champlain
Quartier Petit Champlain is a neighbourhood (“quartier” means neighbourhood) in Quebec City that is famous for its shopping. If you plan to do Christmas shopping in Quebec City, then besides the Christmas markets, this is the other place you should go.
Rue du Petite Champlain is one of the prettiest streets in Quebec City year round, but it looks like a Christmas card during Christmas. There are Christmas carollers, outdoor fire-pits, and lots of decorations.
Petit Champlain area is named after Samuel Champlain, the French explorer who founded Quebec City in 1608. Besides the shopping, you should also check out Place Royale, which is the site of the first official settlement of Quebec. (It will also be decorated for Christmas this time of year.)
At the Place Royale, you will see the Notre Dame des Victoires church, which is the oldest stone church in North America. Everything will be especially cute at Christmas.
I recommend stopping into Café La Maison Smith in Place Royale if you get cold! Its a bit of a tourist trap being in a prime location, but we found the coffee, desserts to be good. There’s sandwiches as well.
3. Go see Santa at the Benjo Toy Store
Santa visits the Benjo Toy Store, which is one of the most beautiful toy stores in Quebec City. Last year in 2022, Santa was at Benjo every weekend leading up to Christmas. It is usually a more old fashioned Santa, rather than the Coca Cola Santa.
Benjo, with or without Santa, is an impressive toy store to walk around. It’s like an old fashioned toy store that you normally only see in the movies. There are good quality brands from both North America and Europe, and interactive and creative displays. It even has a candy section!
We spent a good hour walking around Benjo with our school age child and our toddler.
Benjo is open from 10am to 5pm daily. Its located in the east part of Old Town – about a 25 minute walk from Château Frontenac.
4. Try traditional Quebec winter comfort foods
As a Canadian, there is nothing more delicious and comforting than good quality hot meals in the witnertime, and Quebec City, as a foodie town, is a great place to enjoy this.
Quebec traditional cuisine is based on both French and North American origins. In a restaurant serving traditional Quebecois food you’ll see things like pea soup, poutine, and crepes on the menu.
All of these go well with the chilly weather of December. One of my favourite restaurants is Restaurant Aux Ancients Canadiens in old town. They focus on traditional gourmet Quebec cuisine and the food is delicious. They even have good vegetarian and vegan options.
If you’re in Quebec City at Christmas with kids, then read my post on the 15 best family-friendly restaurants in Quebec City.
Quebec City is a foodie town and there are a few different food tours offered. Read my post on 3 Things to Know Before Booking a Quebec City Food Tour
5. See Montmorency Falls in the winter
Montmorency Falls have a 272 foot plunge, which is almost 100 feet (98.4 feet to be exact) taller than the famous Niagara Falls.
Yes, you can visit Montmorency Falls during the winter. The facilities at the falls face some closures in the winter months, but the falls are always open for visiting.
Between November 6th and December 25th, 2023 the cable car and many other services at Montmorency Falls will be closed. They’ll be open again from December 26, 2023 to January 3, 2024 from 10am to 4pm, but then close again on January 4th for another month.
However, even with services like the cable car being closed, you can still access the falls year-round. Read my post on how to get to Montmorency Falls from Quebec City.
If you’re looking for another waterfall near Quebec City to visit in winter, then you could consider Chutes de la Chaudière on the island of Levis. These waterfalls are about a 30 minute drive from Old Town Quebec City.
6. Get the Best Hot Chocolate in Town
Quebec City gets a lot of culinary influence from France, which means that you can find a lot of French-style bakeries and cafés which also sell delicious hot drinks, both caffeinated and non-caffeine.
Hot chocolate of course, makes the perfect holiday treat and there are places in Quebec City that specialize in chocolate.
- Erico Chocolatier (pictured above)- a chocolate factory and museum that sells chocolate items made from European and Ecuadorian chocolate. They also make their own advent calendars that you can buy for Christmas!
- Chocolats Favoris, a café with a range of high-end desserts. There are three locations in Quebec City, but the closest one to old town is located at 85 Boulevard René-Lévesque.
- Baguette & Chocolat – A funky and friendly style bakery in the heart of Old Town.
7. Check out the Notre-Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral in Quebec City is the oldest stone church in Canada, dating back to the 1600s. It interior is stunning, and not something that is common for churches in Europe, but not in North America.
Right in front of the church is one of the sites of the German Christmas Market. You can go inside the church (until 4pm each day -admission is free) and then check out the market afterwards.
There are also masses at Notre Dame on Christmas eve that everyone is welcome to attend (although keep in mind that they’ll be in French.)
8. Visit the Christmas store
La Boutique de Noël de Québec is Quebec City’s Christmas store, open year-round. You can browse ornaments, gifts, snacks, tree-toppers while listening to the sounds of Christmas carols.
I know that there are Christmas shops in many towns, but the one in Quebec City is especially worth a visit, its very large and magical. It was even used as a set for a famous Korean movie called “Goblin.”
La Boutique de Noël is open from 9am until 9pm during the week and 10pm on weekends. You can find it right in Old Town, next to the Notre Dame de Basilica church.
9. Check out the Christmas Trees at Chateau Frontenac
Chateau Frontenac has a whole corridor of unique Christmas trees sponsored by local businesses. Its completely free to step inside and take a look at them.
The Christmas trees are a fundraiser that raises money for Fondation du CHU de Québec, which is for sick kids. Some of the trees were so creative – there was one made completely of wine glasses!
There’s actually a contest going on where you can vote for your favourite tree in the Chateau Frontenac, by donating $1. The proceeds earned from this contest go to charity, and you have a chance to win a night in the Chateau Frontenac. Find the contest here.
9. Go tobogganing at the Dufferin Terrace
The toboggan slide on Dufferin Terrace (just outside the Chateau Frontenac) is a long-standing tradition in Quebec City – the slide is over 100 years old, first appearing in Quebec City in 1884.
Its even older than the Chateau Frontenac, which was built just a few years later. You speed up to 70 km/hour (43.4 miles per hour) as you race down the hill.
As long as the weather cooperates, the toboggan slide will generally be open from mid-December until mid to late March.
Good to Know: It costs 4$ per person to go down the slide, and up to 4 people can ride at once. If you have a group of 4, then the 4th person is free (its $12 for 4 people.) Children under 3 are free, and anyone under 10 needs to be accompanied by an adult.
10. Do a Quebec City Christmas walking tour
Quebec City is likely one of the most beautiful cities at Christmas in North America. There’s a walking tour in Quebec City that focuses on some of the most beautiful places to see at Christmas. Many of them have already been mentioned in this blog post.
But if you’re short on time, or its your first time in Quebec City, then this might be the perfect option to help you see everything you want to see, and give you some interesting tidbits as to the history of the old buildings you will see. Plus, it includes a free hot chooclate!
Book your Quebec City Christmas walking tour here
11. Indulge at Schlemereck des Galleries Gourmandes
Stop in Schlemereck des Galleries Gourmandes for a foodie experience and some tasty treats. There’s a huge variety of bakeries, sweets and candies.
Schlemereck des Galleries Gourmandes is located inside Galerie de la Capitale, which is a shopping mall in Old Quebec. There are over 200 stores, and big name brands, so its another place to do some shopping too.
Where to Stay in Quebec City at Christmas
To make the most of your stay in Quebec City during Christmas, here are some places that are well-located, cozy and offer a good setting for celebrating Christmas in Quebec
- Budget: Auberge International de Quebec A hostel is located right in Old Town. It has both dorms, and private rooms
- Mid-Range: Hotel Manoir de l’Esplanade Historic, stone-wall building right in Old Town – and free breakfast included too
- Luxury: Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac There is no prettier place in Quebec City at Christmas
What to bring to Quebec City at Christmas
Here are the things I’d recommend bringing to Quebec City in November or December
- A reusable bag. Single-use plastics are becoming a lot less common in Canada, so its handy to have one or two while shopping. You will also need it for the German Christmas market
- Your own thermos mug for hot drinks at the Christmas market
- A warm touque as we call it in Canada (or beanie if you’re American)
- Mitts and scarf
- Wear decent winter hiking boots or shoes. I use hiking boots like these for all the walking in Old Town, that keep my feet warm
- Lip balm – the cold air can really dry out your skin and lips can get cracked.
Christmas in Quebec City: FAQs
Here are the most commonly asked questions about Christmas in Quebec City, and about the German Christmas Market in Quebec
Is it worth going to Quebec City for Christmas?
Yes, Quebec City is highly worth a visit at Christmas – it is unlike any other North American city at Christmas. The 400 year old buildings and narrow cobbled streets decorated for Christmas look like they’re right out of a Christmas card.
Is Québec snowy at Christmas?
There is a good chance of seeing snow in Quebec City at Christmas, although not 100% guaranteed. According to the weather network in Quebec City, there is are 18 days of falling snow in December. So the chances are pretty good that you will see snow around Christmastime in Quebec City.
What are some Christmas traditions in Quebec?
Most families in Quebec City follow the European tradition of opening their presents on Christmas Eve. Some of them also attend Midnight Mass. As a result, many businesses will close early on December 24th and will remain closed for Christmas Day.
Christmas Markets in Quebec City: Conclusion
Between a European style Christmas market, thousands of lights and festive decorations in the old city, and plenty of other things to do, Quebec City is one of the best destinations for Christmas markets in Canada.
To enjoy all the activities, both Christmas-related and year round, you will need 3-5 days in Quebec City. While there are a few activities open late, there are many that close by 4-5 pm, so its worth it to have a rough itinerary in mind. This is what my family did when we visited Quebec City at Christmas – there was so much to do and we didn’t want to miss anything!
I hope that this guide has been helping you plan a fantastic vacation in Quebec City at Christmas.