Stylings of a Montreal Winter

Crowds gathered below the Montreal en Lumiere installations

An aerial view of Montreal En Lumiere

Once more, we have the privilege of sharing local writer Justin Lee’s thoughts on how to enjoy Montreal in all its winter glory.

By Justin Lee


“As the frigid cold of winter engulfs the city, there is still warmth to be found through the simple thoughts of what Montreal itself has to offer. And while I approach the eve of a “well-deserved” peaceful staycation, I can’t help but think that the city of Montreal is in fact absolutely stunning and downright ideal during this relatively short sojourn from the hotter months of the year. Yes, looking at the mounds of dirty grayish snow outside while inhaling breaths of sub-zero air isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when “taking a break”. And okay, I admit that my frugality and lack of funds have grounded me to the slushy and slick roads of Montreal, but that shouldn’t stop me (or you for that matter) from simply enjoying life. And with that rare wisp of positivity it got easier and easier to be convinced that this city was just heaps of fun, even during the winter.

Sitting on my couch I reminisce on the sun soaked days of spring and summer, not of what’s ahead of us, but rather of the last two years living in Pointe St. Charles (recollected in a spotlight piece of my neighbourhood featured a couple of months ago in fact). Although gone are the days of bike rides down the canal and treks to the trendiest watering holes (for now) that I had lovingly highlighted, I must say that Montreal still maintains that incredible joie de vivre that is so very recognizable even in the face-numbing temperatures of the Great White North. That being said, here are a few notable events to tap that wintery spirit.

Igloofest

Crowds at the Igloofest Festival

The fun-loving crowds of Igloofest

First on the radar, what better way to heat up than to dance to the beats of some of today’s most notable local and international DJs at the ninth edition of Igloofest at the Jacques Cartier Pier in the Old Port. Running from January 16th (that’s tomorrow!) to February 8th these four energetic weekends will give you the opportunity to revel from 7pm to midnight to some of best head-bopping tracks of the electronic music world. Having gone three years in a row, I must confess that it does get unbelievably cold (you’re pretty much right beside the water), but like all Montrealers, we’re well-equipped with stuff you’ll see on arctic expeditions. Aside from the ridiculously bright neon green ski suit and goggles, and marshmallows to toast on some bonfires, make sure to bring some reliable gloves and perhaps those disposable hand warmers if you can- they help steer you away from bailing within that crucial first twenty minutes upon arrival.

Fête des Neiges de Montréal

Fete des Neiges crowds at Parc Jean Drapeau

The tube sliding area at Fete des Neiges

Running in tandem with Igloofest, between January 17th and February 8th is the Fête des Neiges happening over at Parc Jean-Drapeau (another advantage to living in the Point with its proximity if I may add). There you can partake in a vast number of winter activities such as tube sliding, dog-sledding, skating along the St. Lawrence River, and even zip lining. The zip lining and the placement of a ferris wheel are actually nice touches, but again, bring some warm gloves or you’ll be trying to breath hot air into your cusped hands every five minutes. A nice addition to this event is the appearance of several food trucks for Trippe and Bouffe; a winter food truck festival that will happen at around 4pm onwards every Saturday.

Montreal en Lumière

One of many lighting installations at Montreal en Lumiere Festival

Luminescent spheres at MTL en Lumiere