Carnaval kicks off in Quebec City
Published Friday, January 31, 2014 2:47PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 31, 2014 6:47PM EST
With a new queen, fireworks, and a larger-than-ever frosty palace, the 60th celebration of winter Carnaval begins Friday in Quebec City.
Selecting a queen has not been done for 18 years, having fallen out of vogue in the early '90s.
However this year organizers have decided that one of the seven duchesses will be granted an icy crown, and the occasion marked with a fireworks display.
The next two weeks will be marked with a series of special events, including what is hoped to be a record-setting snowball fight on the Plains of Abraham on Saturday.
Other theme nights include a Canadian evening on Feb. 1, the mascot Bonhomme's karaoke contest on Feb. 7, and a romantic evening on Valentine's day.
But the piece de resistance will be the ice palace, constructed over the past few weeks by crews using ice shipped from Montreal.
"I have three kids and my young one, 11-years-old, when he sees this he's like 'Wow dad it's awesome! It's so huge, we have a place to run... everything is so big!" said Marc Lepire.
Lepire was part of a crew using hefty blocks of ice to build the ice palace, which is 40 percent larger than last year's fortress.
The ice fortress is a nine-room mansion complete with kitchen, oven, shower and photos of Bonhomme with past queens and doing yoga.
"The kids will love it especially because the inside, the apartment of the Bonhomme Carnaval, it's so nice to see," said Lepire.
750,000 people are expected to visit the festival before it ends on Feb. 16, 2014.