From sugar shacks to Cirque: spring activities in Quebec
Nowhere does spring quite like Canada. Especially on the east coast, which Quebec dominates, the seasons are well-defined and reliable: summer is roasting hot, autumn is the time of muted colours and healthy harvests; winter is snow season and spring – well, the whole province comes alive right about now.
There’s always heaps to do in the buzzy capital of Montreal, but maple syrup enthusiasts will adore heading out to the French-Canadian countryside to see a sugar shack kick off production for the year (and sample the goods, no doubt?). Nature-lovers will also be spoiled, with province’s many apple orchards starting to flower and Canadian geese busy with their spring migration. This year, there’s more to lure us over as the world figure-skating championships kick off, and a new Cirque du Soleil show is premiered. So if you’re in the market for a last-minute spring break, here’s what’s in store in Montreal and further afield.
Read on for the Citybond team's guide to spring in Quebec.
See the forest-to-fork process of maple syrup
If you go down to the woods this time, you’re in for a big surprise. But we’re not talking bears – we’re talking the most gorgeous Canadian set-up for making maple syrup, which begins to flow in late March. Surrounded by towering forests of maple trees, so iconic that the leaf is emblazoned on the Canadian flag – sugar shacks are the place where the magic happens, turning the watery sap into the gloopy pancake topping we can’t get enough of. You’ll notice locals pay visits too – it’s an annual tradition to enjoy a delicious meal within cosy, quirky log cabins. Over 80% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec, so visitors have plenty of choice to see the process in action.
Check out the World Figure Skating Championships
Given the frosty conditions of Quebec in winter, it’s no surprise that ice skating is a favourite winter pastime – so it’s fitting that the World Figure Skating Championships takes place in Montreal this year. The tournament runs between 16 to 22 March at the Bell Centre arena. It’s a chance to marvel at the world’s best spirals, lifts, turns and spins, delivered with the tension inherent in a global championship. Snap up a ticket to see the top talent compete in the categories of ice dance, men's singles, ladies' singles and pairs. But be warned: Dancing on Ice will be ruined for you.
Forget cherry blossoms - apple blossom season is a major attraction
Quebec has an abundance of cherry trees that blossom in the spring, but let’s hear it for apple blossoms too. Quebec is home to the ‘king of fruits’, with orchards scattered across its 500 square kilometres. This results in many different benefits: top-class cider, scrumptious appley desserts but most of all, a blossoming in spring that’s a joy to witness. Pay a visit to Rougemont, known as ‘la capitale de la pomme’ when the weather turns warmer. You’ll won’t be able to miss vast fields and roadside lines of these delicate flowers, with May being the best time of year to immerse yourself in nature’s own artwork.
Enjoy the new Cirque du Soleil show
The French-Canadian capital of Montreal is one of Canada’s most vibrant cities, and that’s demonstrated nicely with Cirque du Soleil. It’s a local contemporary circus company that grew from Montreal’s creative community into a global behemoth. Currently, 26 very different Cirque shows are active on the circuit from Las Vegas to London, and a 27th is in the works. This spring, visitors to Montreal will get the first glimpse of it. We’re itching to know the theme – so far, they’ve covered everything from The Beatles to water ¬– but that’s tightly under wraps for now. Still, those who nab a ticket can be one of the first in the world to witness their newest offering of incredible theatrics, daring acrobatics and magnificent aesthetics. And whatever the theme, that’s bound to impress.
Witness the snow geese migration
Among the vast stretches of national parks, lakes and mountains that are turning verdant, you’ll find a breadth of wildlife exploring Quebec lands again. That’s certainly the case with snow geese. Hundreds of thousands land in Quebec en masse from March to May. Try witnessing this wonder of nature at Baie-du-Febvre, on the edge of Lac Saint-Pierre. Now declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve, the event is quite a spectacle here: the shoreline is taken up solely by geese, as if it was their biggest social event of the year. When they take flight, the sky becomes thick with loud, flying birds. Be sure to carry an umbrella to avoid your head becoming a target!
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