Destination Brief: Québec City Combines Old Europe Charm With Modern Event Facilities

An evening view of Québec City's skyline.

Skift Take

For meeting professionals looking to combine unique cultural experiences with access to cutting-edge innovation, Québec City may hold the answer.

This content was created collaboratively by the Québec City Business Destination and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

An oasis of old European charm within North America, Québec City is a 400-year-old fortified city built on a cliff. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site, the highly walkable old city center boasts an array of well-preserved stone buildings and cobblestone streets. It has held the number one spot for eight years running on Travel + Leisure’s list of top Canadian tourist destinations. The city’s attractions include world-renowned restaurants, beautiful hotels, a thriving art scene, and easy access to sporting facilities and nature parks.

At the same time, Québec City is a dynamic business hub, encouraging and facilitating innovation across multiple high-tech sectors and scientific fields. It has the highest number of researchers per capita of any Canadian city. In keeping, both its convention center and other top meeting venues offer state-of-the-art facilities. 

A European City in North America

For North Americans who want a taste of Europe without stretching their wallets, Québec City is a short flight away with a currency conversion that makes prices extra affordable. Additionally, the Jean-Lesage International Airport (YQB) has direct flights from major hubs in the Northeastern United States, as well as from top Canadian airports. The city is also very accessible by rail, bus, and car.

French is the official language of Québec City, helping to enhance the European ambience of its historic architecture. While travelers will undoubtedly hear French in their surroundings, they can also rest assured that English services are readily available in tourist areas. 

A quaint 17th-century-style square with grey stone buildings (adorned with window flower pots) and a cobblestone plaza in La Cité-Limoilou, the oldest borough in Québec City.
A square in La Cité-Limoilou, a central borough of Québec City. Image credit: Max Stussi, Destination Québec City.

The Québec City Convention Centre: Attracting Research Expertise With Leading Innovation

As the winner of the 2023 Skift Meetings Award for Best Convention Center (Global), the Québec City Convention Centre has everything you would expect from a world-class facility: a wide range of VIP rooms, conference rooms, foyers and reception halls with state-of-the art audio-visual equipment, ample digital signage, and free high-speed Wi-Fi. 

Containing a total of 300,000 square feet of flexible space, it can be adapted to host both small and large events, catering to groups of anywhere from 50 to 4,000 people. 

Past events hosted at the center include Comic Con, the BMR trade show, and the Québec City International Book Fair.


With its LEED Canada-CI (commercial interiors) gold rating, the convention center boasts industry-leading sustainability measures that intelligently manage energy and water consumption. Its Honeywell EBI operational control system consistently monitors the temperature and adjusts energy needs, according to human traffic and customer comfort. All of this energy efficiency is possible while still maintaining the highest standards of air quality: The center features more than 120 ventilation units, each equipped with high-efficiency filters. This allows for ten to twelve air changes per hour in meeting rooms. 

The convention center has also committed to a minimum waste recovery rate of 80 percent, with staff helping to educate event organizers about planning eco-friendly events at no extra cost. 

The Quebec City Convention Center at night, with purple lighting emanating from the large windows that form the exterior wall.
The Québec City Convention Center. Image credit: Emmanuel Coveney, Destination Québec City.

Ready Access to Research and Local Expertise

In collaboration with several professors from Université Laval, the Québec City Convention Centre fosters the advancement of knowledge in various key sectors by helping to connect local scientific projects, teams, and experts with leading international research opportunities. This push to facilitate research partnerships is part and parcel of its larger role in hosting scientific conferences.

With Canada’s highest concentration of researchers, the city includes over 400 laboratories, research centers and institutes, groups, and consortia — employing a total of 5,500 researchers. Key industries in Québec City include cutting-edge fields like life sciences and health technologies, electronics and optics-photonics, and IT and digital arts. 

Further, there are 120 research and development companies active in the city. On the educational front, the city boasts five universities, 16 colleges and technical institutions, and 22 vocational schools and specialized institutes. 

As a testament to the city’s reputation for industry-leading research, the convention center’s recent and upcoming STEM conferences include the ASM International ITSC 2023, a conference for an association of material-centric engineers and scientists; the 16th International Congress of Neuroimmunology in 2023; and the Advanced Photonics Congress 2024

Accommodations & Venues: Old World Flair With Modern Convenience

Hotel Options Abound in Walkable City Center

Old Québec is a historic district that doubles as the business and tourist center of the city. With an area of less than one square mile, it is compact and highly walkable. 

Most accommodations and off-site venues are located within walking distance or a 20-minute drive from this district. There is also no shortage of variety, with accommodation options including private apartment stays, independent boutique hotels, well-known hotel chains, and luxury brands. In fact, there are more than 3,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the Québec City Convention Centre. The Hilton and Delta hotels are connected to it, while the Marriott Downtown Hotel is right next door. 

The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, the city’s most iconic hotel, has played host to a long list of famous guests including Queen Elizabeth II. 

A golden hour view of Parc Montmorency in Quebec City, with a staircase bridge visible in the immediate foreground and The Fairmount Chateau Frontenac visible in the background.
Parc Montmorency with The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac visible in the background. Image credit: Francis Fontaine, Destination Québec City.

Off-Site Venues Combine Historic Architecture & Modern Facilities

The city includes a wide variety of venues that marry Québec’s rich heritage with renovated interiors and modern facilities. The National Assembly, Québec’s provincial parliament, offers a rentable event space called Le Parlementaire.  

A 19th-Century Armoury

The Québec Armoury, dating back to 1887, reopened in 2018 as a multi-use space following extensive renovations. It originally housed the first official French reserve regiment in Canada. This chateau-style building was reconstructed by combining new materials with heritage pieces salvaged from the debris of a major fire in 2008. The historic building is now fully equipped to host business events within its versatile spaces, which can accommodate between 100 and 1,300 participants.  

A Former Church

Similarly, the Chapelle du Séminaire was constructed in 1849 and is currently being renovated. With its intricate stained-glass windows, altars, sculptures, and paintings, it resembles the Trinité church in Paris, but it was desacralized in 1992. When it reopens in the fall of 2024, the space will be available for private events of 200 to 300 people. It will have state-of-the-art audiovisual, sound, and lighting capabilities, providing a beautiful backdrop for cocktails, banquets, and receptions.

An interior shot of a private event at the Chapelle du Séminaire in Quebec City, with ornate cathedral arches visible in the background and tables decorated with rose bouquets and candles in the foreground.
A private event at the Chapelle du Séminaire. Image credit: Magnolia Studio, Destination Québec City.

Fine Arts and Museum Tours

Those with an appreciation for the arts might also consider the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), which overlooks the majestic St. Lawrence River. Its multifunctional spaces host up to 1,500 people, and its event packages include private tours of the museum and its exhibitions. For an added element of historical interest, the museum’s Charles Baillairgé Pavilion once held a prison, originally built in 1867.

A Former Monastery and Wellness Hotspot

Le Monastère des Augustines is a 17th-century Québec monastery that has been turned into a boutique hotel and event venue. It was founded by three sisters of the Augustinian order, and is notably North America’s first hospital north of Mexico. It is now a 65-room hotel, with programming that emphasizes wellness, relaxation, and healthy eating. Corporate yoga and meditation sessions are a favorite among business groups.  In 2016, National Geographic Traveler named it the number one travel destination worldwide for a ‘’mental and physical reboot.” 

All of the venues listed above provide food and beverage services, audiovisual equipment, lighting services, Wi-Fi, and technical support. 

Unique Experiences

The demand for bleisure experiences is only rising, and Québec City offers a wide variety of activities and attractions to satisfy the most discerning traveler.

One-of-a-Kind Off-Site Group Activities

Winter activities commonly woven into corporate events include visits to Nordic spas (also available year-round), ice-canoeing, and sugar shack trips. The latter excursion allows participants to witness the maple-syrup production process, from tree-tapping to packaging.

Visitors can also enjoy traditional and contemporary First Nations experiences close to the city. Wendake is a 15-minute drive from Québec City and home to the Huron-Wendat Nation. A four-star hotel and museum complex, inspired by teepees and longhouses, is located on the reserve. All rooms face the Akiarenwakh River and feature local plants and First Nations art. At night, guests can enjoy an immersive, multimedia walk through the forest. On-site dining options include the award-winning La Traite restaurant, and corporate craft activities — such as making a traditional talking-stick — are available.  

A woman dances in front of two men standing the background. All three figures are part of the First Nations Huron-Wendat tribe in Wendake, just outside of Quebec City. They are wearing traditional garb, including fringed animal hides and feathered headdresses.
A First Nations traditional ceremony and dance in Wendake. Image credit: Stefanie Manton Ward, Destination Québec City.

Baie de Beauport, a public beach located near the Montmorency Falls, includes a banquet hall suitable for events and parties. 

Québec City is also home to a thriving arts and crafts scene, and contains many galleries and shops featuring local, artisanal products.

Restaurants & Culinary Experiences

A stand-out feature of Québec City is its culinary scene. From fine-dining restaurants to quaint cafes and bakeries, there is something available for every taste and budget. 

Fusion, Italian, French, Asian, and traditional cuisines are all easy to find. The city is home to renowned chefs such as Simon Renaud (Québec City Convention Centre), Marie-Chantal Lepage (Hilton Québec) and Gabriel Molleur-Langevin (Fairmont Le Château Frontenac). 

A farm-to-table approach dominates across most dining establishments, with high-quality ingredients made in and around the city. Notably, there are apple orchards and berry farms on Île d’Orléans, a multitude of wineries, maple and cider producers, and cheese producers like the award-winning Alexis-de-Portneuf

Know Before You Go

For event organizers used to hosting conferences in the U.S., switching to the country’s French-speaking neighbor to the North might seem like a fun adventure – but also like unknown territory. Québec City has created a full list of all the key information you need to know before you go, including travel requirements and information about potential tax rebates.

Hôtel de Glace, Québec City. Image credit: Dany Vachon, Destination Québec City.

Did You Know?

Hôtel de Glace, open in Québec City from January to March, is North America’s only ice hotel. A wonder to behold, the structure complements its rooms and suites with a grand hall, chapel, ice slide, and bar — where you can enjoy a cocktail in a glass made of ice!

This content was created collaboratively by the Québec City Business Destination and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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