29 Things to do in Quebec City in Winter that are Worth Braving the Cold

on November 20, 2019

Quebec City is a magical place, no matter the season… but it’s particularly special in winter. You can trust me on that one. I just got back from my fourth trip to Quebec City and have now experienced it in all seasons! We wondered at the flutterings of the season’s first snowfall, bathed outdoors in a Nordic spa, and cuddled up inside with hot mulled cider. As I discovered, there are plenty of things  to do in Quebec City in winter.

*Quebec City Tourism Board hosted my most recent trip to Quebec City. However all opinions remain my own.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Endless Distances!

A winter's night in Quebec City at the Quartier du Petit Champlain.

Quebec City’s charming, old-world vibes make it my dream winter destination for some festive cheer!

Things to do in Quebec City in winter

If you didn’t know, the entirety of Old Quebec City is a UNESCO heritage site. You’re driving through typical Canadian towns and then BAM – you’re hit with a charming hilltop village that looks like it was dropped straight outta 18th century France.

This historic and European element makes Quebec City the perfect spot for a winter weekend getaway. Just pack your mittens!

1. Have a thermal experience at Strom Spa Nordique

One of our favorite activities in Quebec City was the thermal experience at Strom Spa Nordique. We made our way down to the Ports de Quebec, where Strom Spa Nordique is set along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. After a quick tour, we bundled into cozy white robes and were left to our greatest worry of the day: which steaming bath should we dunk in next?

Strom Spa Nordique is filled with a variety of indoor and outdoor baths, saunas, steam rooms, pools, and cold plunges. The typical ‘thermal experience,’ inspired by Nordic bathing techniques, follows this cycle: 1) heat 2) cold 3) relax. We did precisely that for a few delicious hours.

The spa is open all year round, no matter the weather. In fact, winter is one of the best seasons to have a spa day at Strom Spa Nordique. The outdoor sidewalks have underground heating, and heat lamps ensure your bathrobes remain toasty warm while you take a dip.

515 Boulevard Champlain, Québec, QC G1K 0E4, Canada

10am-10pm

Book your spa experience here

The Strom Spa Nordique is a perfect way to spend a winter's day in Quebec City.

Here I am in one of our favorite pools at Strom Spa Nordique. You can actually swim through a tunnel to this room, then open a sliding glass door within the pool to swim outside. Outside is a ‘lazy river’ where the current just propels you along.

2. Grab lunch over looking the Saint Lawrence river

Dont leave Strom Spa Nordique without grabbing lunch at the Nord Restaurant. This beautiful, Scandinavian style restaurant is set in a glass building directly overlooking the Saint Lawrence river. You’ll feel like you’re dining al fresco in the snow… but actually be kept warm by the crackling indoor fireplace.

The Nord Restaurant sources 90% of the ingredients locally during the winter months – which is a big feat for a snowed-in province! It is also open to both spa and non-spa guests alike. Just be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. 

1001 Boulevard de la Forêt, Verdun, QC H3E 1X9, Canada

Reserve your meal time here

A locally sourced meal at Nord Restaurant in Quebec City.

All the dishes we ordered at the Nord Restaurant were fresh and… beautiful! I mean look at that gravlax presentation.

3. Explore the Quartier du Petit Champlain

Don your cap and mittens, and head to Quebec City’s quaint Quartier du Petit Champlain. This neighborhood is really a row of streets at the bottom of the Old Quebec City hill, right by the ferry port. Descending the many staircases into Quartier du Petit Champlain feels like going even further back in time. The streets are full of colorful doorways and cute boutiques to pop into.

In the winter, Quartier du Petit Champlain is frosted in snow, each window display blinking in fairy lights. As night falls, the streets light up with an overhead Christmas light display. Definitely set aside a couple hours to wander.

The Quartier du Petit Champlain in Quebec City.

We grabbed a cappuccino and spent a happy afternoon exploring the shops and cafes of Quartiert du Petit Champlain – my favorite area of Quebec City!

4. Warm up with a hot mulled cider

One of my favorite winter drinks is hot mulled cider (or wine – I’m not too picky!). I discovered a love for this back when I lived in England. Thanks to its European influences, Quebec City’s mulled cider scene does not disappoint.

On a frigid afternoon, we ducked into Le Lapin Saute, one of the cutest and coziest restaurants in Quartier du Petit Champlain. We both ordered a hot mulled cider which more than hit the spot. Across the street, you can also pop into La Cidrerie et Vergers Pedneault, which stocks dozens of locally produced ciders. 

One of the best things to do in winter in Quebec City is warm up with hot mulled cider.

We both couldn’t resist a mulled cider during our lunch at Le Lapin Agile – one of the cutest restaurants in all of Quebec City!

5. Buy a pair of local wool mittens

While you’re still in Quartier du Petit Champlain, be sure to visit Charlevoix Pure Laine. This shop is also a workshop, that features the beautiful crafts produced from local Charlevoix wool. Peruse the offerings – ranging from hats and mittens to scarves, ornaments, skeins, socks, and more.

If you’re like us, you won’t be able to resist buying a little something here. Particularly as the snow falls outside, you’ll want something to keep those fingers and ears warm… we’ve got plenty more exploring to do!

61½, rue du Petit-Champlain, Québec City, Québec, G1K 4H5

Saturday-Wednesday 10am-5pm, Thursday-Friday 10am-9pm

6. Take the Levis ferry for the best view of Quebec City

One of the very best views of Quebec City can be found on the $3.65 ferry to Levis. Levis (pronounced Lee-vee) is a town across the Saint Lawrence river. Many people live there and commute via the ferry into Quebec City. However, it is also a perfect activity for travelers!

The ferry runs in all seasons, including winter of course. We each grabbed a hot coffee from Cafe La Maison Smith, before boarding the ferry for our scenic journey.

You can buy return tickets at the Quebec City ferry terminal. The journey is approximately 12-15 minutes each way, and you do need to disembark once you reach Levis (although, like us, you can immediately reembark!).

Check the Quebec-Levis ferry schedule here.

Quebec City Ferry Terminal, 10 Rue des Traversiers, Québec, QC G1K 8L8, Canada

Looking out over the Saint Lawrence River on the ferry from Quebec City to Levis.

Looking out over the Quebec City skyline on the ferry to Levis. Can you tell I was a bit cold?!

The ferry from Quebec City to Levis is only $3.65 and offers the best view of the skyline.

My mom, looking out over the skyline from the ferry, looking a bit more elegant and warm than myself!

7. Ride the Funicular

You know by now that Old Quebec City is set on a hilltop…but some of the cutest areas, like Quartier du Petit Champlain, are at the bottom of the hill. If you’re not a fan of stairs, don’t worry. There is a funicular that runs between Dufferin Terrace (the top of the hill) to Quartier du Petit Champlain (the bottom of the hill).

The funicular is set at a 45 degree angle, and although the journey is very short, it does offer beautiful views. Tickets are $3.50 each way… in my opinion, higher value for money on the way up, ha! It runs in all seasons, although it is closed on Christmas day.

16 rue du Petit-Champlain, Québec, QC, G1K 4H4

Check funicular hours here.

The Quebec City funicular is only $3 and well worth a ride to avoid the steep steps.

The entrance to the funicular in Quartier du Petit Champlain.

8. Take a ride in a toboggan

Quebec City is pretty famous for its toboggan slide, which originates from 1884. This is one of the oldest winter traditions in Quebec City. What is a toboggan, you say? Basically a steep slide you sled down, reaching up to 70 km/h!

The Quebec City toboggan slide is open from mid December through mid March, depending on weather. It is generally open 10am-5pm, depending on weather. At $3 for the basic slide, this is a steal. You can also order a slide + hot chocolate for $7, for a four slide package for $10. 

Check opening times and weather announcements here.

Each winter, Quebec City opens its famous toboggan for rides.

Tobogganing down at 70 km/h toward Quebec City! Photo credit: Luc-Antoine Couturier

9. Sleep in a monastery

During our most recent trip to Quebec City, we stayed at Le Monastere des Augustines. This hotel entered my radar on my previous trip to Quebec City…and I just knew I had to stay here one day. A bucket list experience for sure.

Why is Le Monastere des Augustines so special? Well, this is not only a wellness hotel, but it is also the site of the first hospital north of Mexico, and home to the Augustinian Sisters, who founded the monastery in 1639. A few years ago, the sisters realized they needed to protect their heritage, and the hotel was founded.

“Hotel” really is not representative of all that Le Monastere is. It is a non profit, a museum, a retreat, and so much more. We had the opportunity to sleep in the “authentic” rooms, where sisters slept years ago (you can also book contemporary rooms). 

Winter, in my opinion, is the season to turn inward, reflect, and maybe even hibernate a bit. If you’re looking to do so in Quebec City, Le Monastere is for you!

77 Rue des Remparts, Québec, QC G1R 0C3, Canada

Check rates and book your stay at Le Monastere here.

The back entrance to Le Monastere des Augustines, a wellness hotel in Quebec City.

From the back entrance to Le Monastere des Augustines, you can see the sisters’ quarters (left), the modern glass enclosure that houses the lobby and the exterior of the ancient church (center), and the museum and hotel wing (right).

10. Take a tai chi or yoga class in the ancient vaults

Le Monastere, as I mentioned, is a wellness hotel. That means they have plenty of daily events and classes, many of which are also open to the public if you book ahead of time.

Every day, at 12:30pm and 5pm, Le Monastere offers a gentle fitness class in their underground vaults.  Classes are taught in both French and English, so no worried there. A tai chi or yoga class is a perfect activity to warm up your body on a cold winter day. Practicing in these ancient vaults was an experience not to be forgotten!

The ancient vaults of Le Monastere des Augustines have been refurbished and are now home to daily yoga and tai chi classes.

This is where we took our tai chi class at Le Monastere des Augustines. I also took a yoga class here the last time I was in Quebec!

11. Attend a vespers service of the Augustinian Sisters

Yes, there are still eight remaining Augustinian Sisters who live at Le Monastere. Each day, they hold a vespers at 5pm, which is a short 20 minute service full of beautiful singing. They also hold lauds at 8am if you are an early bird.

Little known is that these beautiful services are open to the public, just head inside Le Monastere lobby, and up to the second floor where you can enter the church.

The church within Le Monastere des Augustines, where the Augustinian sisters worship.

This gorgeous room is where vespers and lauds are held at Le Monastere des Augustines. It is connected to a very gaudy (but beautiful) church. Historically, the sisters were cloistered so they did all their worshiping privately in this room, so they couldn’t be seen by the public.

12. Linger over a six course dinner of local food

I absolutely love to go out to eat when I travel, and sample the local delicacies. Quebec City has an incredible foodie scene, with many restaurants focused on sourcing their ingredients locally. I definitely recommend going all out for dinner in Quebec City – I’m talking tasting menu, six courses, the whole shebang.

For an intricately designed six course meal, make a reservation at Le Monastere’s restaurant. Another great pick is Bistro L’Orygine, which serves gourmet tapas style dishes. 

Related: A Gluten Free Guide to Quebec City

A dinner of seared scallops at Bistro L'Orygine in Quebec City.

We loved this dish of seared scallops at Bistro L’Orygine.

13. Explore Quebec City’s Ice Hotel

Quebec City is home to North America’s only Ice Hotel… yep, you read that right. A hotel literally made from ice. Talk about a winter wonderland.

Most people will opt to just visit the Ice Hotel. Bundle up in your coat, and enjoy a cocktail out of a glass made of ice from the Ice Bar.

To go all out, you can actually book a room to stay at the Ice Hotel. These come with entrance to an outdoor spa, and a room that is actually made of ice!

Ice Hotel opens for the season on January 2 and closes in mid March. 

Guided tours are run 12pm-5:30pm, the Ice Bar is open 10am-12am. Entrance is $23.99.

Book your stay at the Ice Hotel here.

One of the best things to do in Quebec City in winter? Sleep in at the Ice Hotel!

Hôtel de Glace – Quebec City and North America’s ONLY Ice Hotel. Open for business starting in January! Photo credit: Luc Rousseau

14. Wander through the Christmas Market

In keeping with the wintery European vibes, Quebec City actually has its own German Christmas Market. The heart of Old Quebec City comes alive with sparkly lights, and dozens of Christmas stalls. Peruse the stalls for crafts, sweets, and of course (because it is Canada after all) poutine!

Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 2 Rue des Jardins, Québec, QC, G1R 429

Open from November 22 until December 22, 2019. 

Thursday 11am-8pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-9pm, Sunday 11am-6pm.

The festive German Christmas Market in Quebec City in full swing.

The festive German Christmas Market in full swing. Photo credit: Ville de Québec

15. Shop at Le Grande Marche de Quebec

In addition to the Christmas market, winter in Quebec City is still a good time to visit a regular market. Quebec City has some great markets that feature local crafts, foods, drinks, and other products. Unfortunately, many of these shut for the winter months when produce is hard to come by.

The brand new Grande Marche de Quebec, however, is open all year! This market is a gourmet spot that can’t be missed. 

ExpoCité, 250, boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel, édifice M, Québec, QC, G1L 5A7

Monday-Friday, 9am – 6pm. Saturday-Sunday, 9am-5pm.

Le Grand Marche is open all year round in Quebec City.

On our way out of Quebec City, we stopped at Le Grand Marche… and couldn’t resist buying some ice wine and ice cider!

16. Go skating at the Place de You’ville

Along Rue St Jean, you’ll find place D’Youville – a public square in the heart of Old Quebec City. In winter, the square is transformed into an outdoor ice skating rink!

Better yet, skating is absolutely free… you just have to rent your gear if you don’t have any.

995, place D’Youville, Québec, QC, G1K 3P1

Open mid November until mid-March

Monday-Thursday 12pm-10pm, Friday-Sunday 10am-10pm.

Skating at the place D'Youville.

Skating with holiday lights in the shadow of Old Quebec City’s fortifications… what could be more perfect?! Photo credit: Francis Gagnon

17. Go shopping in a 100% Christmas themed boutique

While you’re in place D’Youville, don’t go too far… you can easily make your way over to La Boutique de Noel. This shop is all about the Christmas decorations, and all year ’round! However, a visit to La Boutique de Noel is definitely one of the best things to do in Quebec City in winter… especially if you haven’t finished your shopping. There are also plenty of (non-Christmas themed) shops nearby worth checking out.

47 Rue De Buade, Québec, QC G1R 4A2, Canada

Sunday-Thursday 9am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 9am-10pm.

La Boutique de Noel is a perfect stop in Quebec City for some holiday shopping.

We’d visited La Boutique de Noel before, but it felt particularly festive to finally visit in winter!

18. Have afternoon tea in a castle

You won’t be able to help noticing that a massive and elegant castle stands proud over Quebec City. This is the Chateau Frontenac – a luxury hotel and arguably the most iconic piece of architecture in Old Quebec. Staying a night at the Chateau Frontenac is just how you would imagine sleeping in a castle (this is where we stayed on our previous trip to Quebec). However, even if you’re not a guest, there are plenty of experiences to be had at the Chateau.

You are able to take a guided tour of Chateau Frontenac for $21 (adult, non-guest). There are also plenty of dining options. Personally I would opt for the afternoon tea, which is offered on weekends for $55. Afternoon tea comes with live music, scones, devon cream, sandwiches, kombucha, and of course the tea.

Check rates and details on Chateau Frontenac here.

Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.

A snow capped Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.

19. Go to the Quebec Winter Carnival

Quebec City transforms into a winter carnival for one week each year. And the phrase ‘carnival’ is not taken lightly. The streets are taken over by parades, ice sculpting competitions, ice skating, polar plunges, and ice canoe race, an ice palace, and so much more.

The winter carnival is from February 7-16, 2020.

The Quebec City winter carnival features ice canoeing and more.

Ice canoeing across the Saint Lawrence river during the winter carnival… not for the faint of heart! Photo credit: Carnaval de Québec

20. Browse La Maison de la Litterature and the Morrin Centre

If you want to warm up inside with a good book, then make your way to La Maison de la Litterature and the Morrin Centre. The Morrin Centre is a cultural center and museum, whilst the Maison is where all the books are! It is mostly in French but there are also exhibits in English.

This is also a beautiful spot for any design lovers to check out. The white interior, spiral staircase, and story-spanning windows must be seen (and photographed!).

Maison de la Litterature, 40 Rue Saint-Stanislas, Québec, QC G1R 4H1, Canada

Tuesday-Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 10am-5pm, Monday closed.

The beautiful white interior of La Maison de la Litterature in Quebec City.

On our last morning in Quebec City, I ventured over to La Maison de la Litterature. I’m so glad I did! It is beautiful inside.

21. Check out the view from Observatoire de la Capitale

One of the best views in Quebec City can be found at the Observatoire de la Capitale. Climb to the 31st floor and catch a view over the entirety of Old Quebec City! There is also the ‘horizons discovery experience’ at the Observatoire, which is an educational exhibit that explains the surrounding skyline.

Adult tickets cost $14.75, more details and pricing can be found here.

1037 Rue de la Chevrotière, Québec, QC G1R 5E9, Canada

Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, Monday closed.

A view over snow capped Old Quebec City.

A view over snow capped Old Quebec City. Photo credit: Francis Gagnon

22. Check dogsledding off your bucket list

Have you ever been dog sledding? I went for the first time in Michigan last year, and it was the most exhilarating experience. I was so happy to find that Quebec City offers dog sledding in the winter! 

There are a few companies near Quebec City that offer dog sledding packages – check them out here. Each company varies in price and length of sledding. Based on my experience I highly recommend a package where you drive the sled yourself.

Related: Experience Michigan Dog Sledding with Nature’s Kennel

Dog sledding in Quebec City is a bucket list experience during a winter visit.

Dog sledding in Quebec City. Photo credit: Francis Gagnon

23. Go snow tubing

Being from the north, I know how fun snow tubing can be! If you’ve never tried it, you need to give it a shot whilst in Quebec City. Not far from Quebec City, Village Vacances Valcartier turns into an absolute winter playground. There are over 35 various snow and ice runs to tube down!

You can also go snow rafting in a group, or ice skating. This is something people of all ages will enjoy.

Entrance to Village Vacances Valcartier is $25.99/per person. You can book here.

The Village opens for the season on December 14 and closes mid March.

Snow tubing at the Village Vacances Valcartier. A great way to spend winter in Quebec City, starting in December!

Snow tubing at the Village Vacances Valcartier. A great way to spend winter in Quebec City, starting in December! Photo credit: Stéphane Audet Photo

24. Take in the art at Musee de National des Beaux Arts

Head indoors and take in some of Quebec City’s museums during your winter visit. I always love to visit art museums, and Quebec City has a very good one in the Musee de National des Beaux Arts. The museum is located outside the city walls, on the top of the hill. It could easily be combined with a visit to Strom Spa Nordique (although you will have a long staircase to climb to reach the bottom!).

Adult tickets cost $22, more details and pricing can be found here.

179 Grande Allée O, Québec, QC G1R 2H1, Canada

Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, Monday closed.

25. Get tipsy over craft cocktails

Winter is a great time to spend a night, indoors, sampling craft cocktails. After a few of Quebec City’s finest, you won’t feel quite so cold on your walk back to the hotel…

We loved our craft cocktails at Bistro L’Orygine – each was a surprising concoction and mix of flavors. ‘The Violet,’ which had a rum base, blackberry syrup, and foam, was our favorite by far.

Or, you can head to Batinese and order the massive ‘Grosse ‘Rita’ – just be sure to take a few friends with you to finish it off.

Check out more Quebec City cocktails to die for here.

Craft cocktails are served a plenty at Bistro L'Orygine in Quebec City.

We absolutely loved our cocktails at Bistro L’Orygine!

26. Admire the Notre Dame de Quebec

The Notre Dame de Quebec is a stunning cathedral that was built all the way back in 1647. It is a centerpiece in Old Quebec City and worth a visit.

Unfortunately, during my past two trips to Quebec City, the Notre Dame has been undergoing construction. However, you are still permitted to go inside and admire the architecture from there.

Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral, 16 rue de Buade, Quebec City

27. Take a food tour of the Ile d’Orleans

The Ile d’Orleans is an island in the St. Lawrence River that is known for its agricultural products. It is one of the top attractions and day trips from Quebec City. I figured due to the agricultural emphasis that in the winter, there wouldn’t be much going on here. I was so wrong!

The foodie scene of Ile d’Orleans is alive and well at all times of the year – there is plenty to see (and taste) in the winter, including wineries, cideries, a chocolate factory, a fromagerie, maple syrup farms, and more. 

Book a three hour food tour here.

Ile d'Orleans is beautiful in winter.

Ile d’Orleans is a beautiful place to visit in winter and only a short trip from Quebec City. Photo credit: Francis Gagnon

28. Take in the sights of Montmorency Falls in winter

The Montmorency Falls are a stunning set of waterfalls just a short drive from Quebec. It is definitely worth a visit in winter, to take in the frozen formations at the base of the falls. The more adventurous among us may opt to go ice climbing here, as it is one of the premier destinations for ice climbing in Canada.

The stunning Montmorency Falls in winter.

The stunning Montmorency Falls in winter. Photo credit: Yves Tessier, Tessima

29. Dig in to some poutine

Last but not least, I can’t forget Canada’s delicacy: poutine. Yup, those fries slathered in gravy and cheese curds are what you came to Canada for, right? Whether that sounds appetizing to you or not, you absolutely need to give poutine a try while in Quebec.

For the best poutine in Quebec City, Le Chic Shack generally takes the title. If you have to eat gluten free like me, then head over to Bistro Le Veravin, which offers five types of gluten free poutine!

Related: A Gluten Free Guide to Quebec City

Poutine in Quebec City.

Okay, poutine may not be pretty but it’s a Canadian staple!

Where to Stay in Quebec City

Have I convinced you to pay a visit to Quebec City in winter, yet? I hope so! I’ve mentioned some places to stay in Quebec City already. But let’s review my top recommended hotels for all budgets.

Le Château Frontenac ($$$)

Far and away the most classically luxurious accommodation in Quebec City. Sleep in a literal castle, enjoy gorgeous views, and old-world charm in the center of it all.

Check rates and book Le Château Frontenac here.

Le Monastere des Augustines ($$)

Quebec City’s premier wellness hotel, but so much more than that. When you choose to stay at Le Monastere des Augustines, you are supporting a non-profit, museum, hospital, and monastery. This is my own personal pick… stay tuned for a full blog post all about our stay!

Check rates and book Le Monastere des Augustines here.

HI Quebec City Hostel ($)

I’m a lover of hostels, especially the Hostelling International brand which I regularly write for. They are a super reliable brand (and non profit) that I have frequented all around the world. Here, you’ll find cheap prices for clean and cozy accommodation. If you want a step above dorm sleeping, book a private room.

Check rates and book HI Quebec City Hostel here.

A snowy winter's night at Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.

Imagine spending a night in this castle – Le Chateau Frontenac!

The details

What? Quebec City, a UNESCO heritage site and city

Where? In the province of Quebec, Canada

When? Quebec City is fabulous all year round, but I recommend a visit in winter!

How to get there? We drove to Quebec City (from Michigan… yup it was a long drive!). You can also book a VIA Rail train, or look into flying into Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB).

I hope this list of 29 things to do in Quebec City in winter got you pumped for your trip! And if you haven’t booked your trip to Quebec City yet… what are you waiting for?!

I’d love to hear your own favorite things to do in Quebec City… it’s difficult to pick but my top choices would be bathing at Strom Spa Nordique, experiencing the wellness hotel Le Monastere des Augustines, and of course exploring the incredibly quaint Quartier du Petit Champlain.

Sarah xx

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Quebec City in winter is cold, as in VERY cold. But it's also a winter fairyland! Here are 29 of the best things to do in Quebec City in winter. #quebeccity #thingstodoinquebeccity #thingstodoinwinterinquebeccity #quebec Quebec City in winter is cold, as in VERY cold. But it's also a winter fairyland! Here are 29 of the best things to do in Quebec City in winter. #quebeccity #thingstodoinquebeccity #thingstodoinwinterinquebeccity #quebec

*Quebec City Tourism Board hosted my most recent trip to Quebec City. However all opinions remain my own.

*This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting Endless Distances!

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