« Les racines d’hiver plongent dans le ciel noir. Et, la nuit, vont chercher les grains de lumière qui font luire les feuilles au printemps. »

Gilles Vigneault, chanteur et poète

Four very distinct seasons

Québec has four very distinct seasons. We play outdoors all year long, but we dress differently depending on the season and the region.

Québec’s territory is immense so to prepare properly, be sure to consider what part(s) of the province you will be visiting. The climate and the change of seasons vary in surprising ways at times: obviously it’s colder (winter) and cooler (summer) in the north than the south, but green Christmases (yes... green grass, sunshine and 20°C) and snowflakes in August (thankfully on very rare occasions) are not unheard of. There’s a reason we have a good sense of humour, given all the tricks Mother Nature plays on us.

Temperatures as high as 40°C were recorded in the summers of 1921, 1975 and 1977, and as low as -51°C in the winters of 1982 and 2002. Ironically, cities in northern Québec figured in both cases.

Source: Environnement et Lutte contre les changements climatiques

You’re coming in the summer?

The warm season is also high tourist season. It runs from the end of June to early September (from the Saint-Jean-Baptiste holiday to Labour Day).

Temperature and climate

Southern Québec is generally warmer and more humid than north of the St. Lawrence River. For the big picture of how hot it gets in the summer, Canadian meteorologists developed the humidex, which quantifies the perceived temperature when it’s humid. For example, if it’s 27°C with 65% humidity, the body will react as though it’s 34°C.

Come spring, mosquitoes hatch on bodies of water as the snow melts. With the dryness of summer, from mid-July to the end of August, these swarms of insects dissipate. To learn more about mosquitoes, black flies, horse flies, no-see-ums, deer flies and other bugs, visit the Space for Life Insectarium in Montréal.

What to pack

In summer, it can be cool or hot, dry or humid. Pack your clothing accordingly, and don’t forget your bathing suit. As for insect repellent, buy it on site. Other tips

Highlights of the season

During the warm season, outdoors is the place to be! Celebrations and festivals, swimming in the lakes, enjoying the lively patios… Make the most of it!

You’re coming in the fall?

The fall season extends from mid-September to the end of November. Come December, winter is upon us.

Temperature and climate

At the end of August, the trees start preparing for the big show of colours.

In describing the fall season, our Indian Summer deserves a special mention. This phenomenon isn’t part of the fall colours period, it’s a warm spell—a last hoorah of summer—that occurs between early October and mid-November, before the onset of winter. Some years there is no Indian Summer at all, other years have two or three!

What to pack

The fall is cool, rarely warm (except for a few days if you’re lucky enough to get an Indian Summer!). There’s more rain in the fall than the summer, so pack warm, waterproof clothing. Other tips

Highlights of the season

The brilliant fall colours provide the perfect backdrop for hiking, agrotourism and U-pick activities. A variety of festivals showcase crop and grape harvesting and, naturally, gastronomy. Come November, we seek out “cozier” pastimes, visiting museums, going Christmas shopping, or relaxing at a nordic spa!

Average minimum and maximum fall temperatures

You’re coming in the winter?

The cold season is from the end of November to early April, with regional variations.

Temperature and climate

It’s no secret, winters are cold. The trick: dress warmly! Winter seems long, but it passes quickly because there’s so much to do outdoors in the snow, under the bright blue sky. Of all the northern countries, we actually have the most hours of sunshine in the winter. We’re lucky this way!

While summer has a humidex, winter has a windchill factor. When it’s windy, it feels even colder so you need to cover up well to avoid frostbite.

What to pack

Bring sweaters and technical undergarments, made of fabric that retains heat and wicks away moisture. Other tips

Highlights of the season

Winter begins with the magic of the holiday season with Christmas markets followed by outdoor festivals. The Québec Winter Carnival is the crowning event! And Igloofest, a huge outdoor electronic music festival, will keep your toes toasty as you dance the hours away. The colder it gets, the bigger the crowds. Call us crazy!

Outdoor enthusiasts are right at home here: downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, alpine luging, fatbiking, sliding, snowmobiling, dogsledding, ice-fishing, climbing, skating. Winter is your dream come true!

You’re coming in the spring?

The spring season extends from the end of March to the end of June, with regional variations.

Temperature and climate

Spring in Québec is often quite short because it’s squeezed in between winter, which can torment us with snow at the end of April just as the buds are blooming, and summer, which can come early with a sudden rise in temperature… in mid-May. Some weeks are full of surprises, giving us all four seasons in seven days.

What to pack

Bring four-season clothing, and don’t forget your umbrella and sun glasses. You never know what spring has in store. Other tips

Highlights of the season

Sugar shack excursions—called sugaring-off parties—during the delightful maple syrup season when the sap starts running with the spring thaw; the Cider Route when the apple trees are flowering; the return of the snow geese and other migratory birds; canoeing or kayaking down rapids in rivers swollen from the spring run-off. These activities are all part of Québec’s springtime rituals, much like taking strolls and enjoying outdoor patios.