I have to say that I’m quite impressed with Quebec City’s New Year’s eve party despite the relatively little press I could find on it. Perhaps that’s simply owed to language, i.e. maybe if I had searched using French terms instead?
The day passed by quickly enough. I had to shop for a few forgotten sundries such as a replacement for my rarely used and forgotten scarf) and then wandered with my camera until the snowfall hit levels that I had a less than warm and fuzzy feeling exposing electronics to the weather. Still, it was very pretty and I spent more time out in it later.
In the end, I still ended up back in the hostel relaxing to get up the energy to bundle up and go back out into the night. It was in the 20’s (Fahrenheit) last night which is far better than the negative teens predicted for overnight mid week – yes still Fahrenheit! If I hadn’t asked around, I still wouldn’t have known there was officially any sort of street party last night. I thought maybe it was so cold that the general expectation was people celebrated in pubs or at home.
Nonetheless, there is a street party AND fireworks! And like me, the bulk of people attending seemed to walk in about an hour before the magic hour. I don’t think anyone wants to dance in the streets for four hours here. Still there must have been some who were earlier because the street behind the parliament building was packed and I never got close to the stage. I’m not sure what to say about the main entertainment at the party who I could only see on the jumbo screens, but they were some sort of techno violin band?! Seriously! They weren’t bad at all but it was very unexpected and unique.
All the announcements were of course in French, but I at least picked up on the time announcements as the New Year got closer. It occurred to me somewhere in the midst of it that the countdown would be in french as well…. I barely remember French numbers and backwards to boot… I mentally practiced them backwards from 8, and of course when the magic time came, they started at 15! Ha, mais oui! Still, I was there with them from 8 on the countdown.
It turns out that not being there earlier was best. I may not have been near enough to the stage, but I was right next to the Ferris wheel. There had been people riding it when I first got there, but they eventually shut it down lights and all as the fireworks were launched immediately behind it! So, I had a front row seat… er… standing spot to watch how the Quebecois celebrate.
This was actually the most impressive part. Their fireworks were unquestionably different than anything to which I’m accustomed. Rather than massive colorful blooms, the fireworks here shot high into the sky. If there was any drama, it was from the twirling ones that went up like a bottle thrown through the air spinning fire. Unreal! And the booms were massive. The cacophony at the end was like standing amongst cannons! I do think the emphasis was as much if not more in the direction of sound than sight. Beautiful but memorably loud at the same time.
Right as the last volley of fireworks went off, the loudest ones, confetti cannons began firing across the street covering the crowds. Some of the folks who walked in when I did stopped on the other side of the square, clearly just there to see the fireworks, but if you stopped there, you missed not only the entertainment but the confetti as well. And with the confetti came what is apparently the most universal New Year moment, the singing of Auld Lang Syne. I was surprised but pleasantly so!
I’m not sure about everyone, but the bulk of the crowd headed out at this point, no partying into the night in the streets anyway. And at this point, I was personally wiped. I headed back to the hostel. I guess I did well, one room-mate in bed, the other was in before I could finish getting ready myself. That was my one hesitant point about doing a hostel again for New Year’s Eve. I’ve had plenty of experience of being woken up in the wee hours of the morning by late nighters on New Years but that was not the case this night. This was actually why I chose a four person room here over one of the larger dorms. I figured I was improving my chances and I can report success this once even if it was a game of chance.
Anyway, if you are ever considering places to see in a unique new year, I’d add Quebec City to that list, fun but understated street party, great fireworks, and although I didn’t partake, if you’re a foodie, check out the New Year’s Eve réveillon scene here, could be a great pre-party for you.