10 Montreal Festivals You Must Attend With Your Friends This Winter
Consider this your cheatsheet to make the most out of Montreal's winter
Photo cred - Festival MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE
Nod if this happens to you way too often: you go out in the summer, either going to a festival with your friends or just spending time outside in the summer sun. Summer had been your chance to hit the beach, go on vacations, attend concerts, bike and swim outside, or just generally chilling out with an iced drink in hand. Then fall happens, then winter happens, and suddenly you retreat to hibernate for five months. You stop going outside except to go to work or school, and you spend every weekend feeling exhausted and wandering around your house aimlessly. You stop moving, except to trace out the path from your computer to the fridge and then back to your bed.
Look, I love staying in as much as anybody. But whether you live here or if you're just visiting, take advantage of being in Montreal and hit up one of these festivals. The secret to surviving winter in Montreal? Having fun.
TELUS Fire on Ice - Every Saturday from December 13 2014 t0 January 3 2015 at 8 pm
It's a winter fireworks festival taking place in the Old Port, although I think Fire on Ice sounds like an new flavour of mouth-burning mint gum (Dentyne: Peppermint Fire on Ice).
As the official event listing says: "Let these magical evenings add a little spice to your winter season". Sounds like fun, but also a bit like a gum commercial (Dentyne: Cinnamon Spice Winter). Anyways, it's free, there's an outdoor skating rink, and it's the perfect way to kick off your winter. If you missed the Loto-Quebec Fireworks Competition this summer, make it up by attending Fire on Ice.
Le Cinéma des fêtes - December 20,21 2014 and January 2,3,4 2015 at 5pm
Official site (Old Montreal, free of charge)
Who's down for some wholesome holiday movie fun? Cinéma des fêtes is screening a series of classic holiday movies at Place d'Youville, and they promise to greet you with warm blankets and hot chocolate. Dress warmly though.
Igloofest - January 16 2015 to February 08, 2015
Because at some point, partying in the freezing cold became a thing that everyone wants to do.
Noël bonbon / A Sweet Christmas - Friday, Saturday, and Sundays from December 5 2014 to January 4 2015
This December, the main greenhouse in the Botanical Garden of Montreal has been transformed into a candy shop. You can visit the exhibition during regular hours, but visit on Friday/Saturday/Sunday for demonstrations on how to make candy from natural plant extracts, and taste tests of various naturally sweet plant extracts. More importantly, this is your chance to recreate that candyland scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factor. If only there was a chocolate river for annoying people to fall into.
Fête Des Neiges - January 17 2015 to February 8 2015
Official site/ (Parc Jean Drapeau, free of charge for entrance)
The perfect way to cheer yourself up about the massive amounts of snow outside - a festival dedicated entirely to the stuff. Check out la Fête Des Neiges for:
- Refrigerated skating path
- Cross-country skiing + snowshoeing
- Dog-sled and horse-drawn sleigh rides
- A giant winter Ferris wheel
- Inflatable structures (aka bouncy castles)
Festival of Quebec Cheeses - February 19 2015 to February 21 2015
Official site (Downtown, free of charge)
“You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.” – Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef
"Oh my fucking god, free cheese." - me
Nuit blanche, Montreal en lumiere - February 19 2015 to March 1 2015
Nuit blanche isn't so much a festival, as a series of mini festivals stringed together, like individual lightbulbs on a strand of Christmas lights. (Topical key words, check). This is the night when all of Montreal get together for a night of non-stop activities that range from food tastings to outdoor concerts to public ice carvings. The STM will run all night, and even offer free shuttle circuits to take you around the city.
Art Souterrain - March 1 2015 to March 31 2015
La Poutine Week - February 1 2015 to February 7 2015
Facebook (everywhere, fees vary)
Taking in all the cool Canadian cities (sorry, west coast), and one American one, anyone in Montreal, Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Ottawa, New York and Toronto have a week in February to feast on creative poutines from participating restaurants. February is made for passing out in food comas anyways, right?
Luminothérapie - December 10 2014 to February 2 2015
Official site (Free of charge)
I know it's December and everyone wants to stay inside, but you should definitely go outside for this: the Quartier des Spectacles will be transformed into an open-air museum, featuring stuff from weird modern light installations, to a 20th century carnival with high tech games. The Fascinoscope outside St-Laurent metro will be transformed into an outdoor arcade with four classic carnival games.
Photo cred - Montreal en Lumiere