Forget what you’ve heard.
Yes, Montreal winters are long and cold, and yes, its summer festival scene is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Canada, but Montreal winters offer plenty of (free!) opportunities for music, dancing and family fun. Not to mention less crowds and better hotel rates! Here are our picks for the Top 3 winter festivals in Montreal.
Igloofest 2014: The Hottest Outdoor Winter Rave in Canada
Montreal’s outdoor winter electronic music festival attracts crowds of up to 70 000 people dancing away the coldest nights of the winter to performers like Montreal DJs A-Trak and Mistress Barbara as well as Portugal’s kuduro-dubstep-techno innovators Buraka Som Sistema and Canadian electro-powwow group A Tribe Called Red.
All for only $40 for an unlimited weekend pass. Montreal is one of the most fashionable cities in North America, but don’t bother with your chic-est little black dress. With January temperatures hovering around -10 C, festival-goers are decked out in parkas, snowpants and ski masks.
When and Where: The weekends of January 16 -18, 23-25, 30-February 1, and February 6- 8, 2014, at the Old Port.
Pro Tip: Got a1980s one-piece fluorescent ski suit in your parents’ basement? You might want to dig it out for the ‘One-Piece Contest’, awarded to the festival-goer with the best (read: tackiest) snowsuit. Website:
Nuit Blanche: Overnight Art Party
If $40 for a three-day live music party is too steep for you, then how about a (mostly) free all-nighter of music, dance, visual arts, and culinary discoveries? One night a year lets you explore Montreal from 6pm until 6 am the following morning. With museums, restaurants and libraries all over the city hosting interactive art displays, glow-in-the-dark ice slides, movie screenings and concerts, you’ll have enough options to keep you busy until the sun comes up. Luckily, there are free shuttles and the metro will run all night.
When and Where: Saturday, March 1, 2014, various locations
Pro Tip: Hate the cold? Go underground! Nuit Blanche’s Art Souterrain site consists of 7 km of exhibits, installations and performances in Montreal’s ‘UndergroundCity’. Website
La Fête des Neiges: AWinter Wonderland for the Whole Family
Montreal is not just the other city that never sleeps; it’s also a family-friendly destination. Every winter for the past 30 years, La Fête des Neiges has activities like tubing, snow-shoeing, cross country skiing, figure and speed-skating clinics, hockey and zip-lining, as well as an opening and closing show. Keep your eye out for the furry, friendly Boule de Neige Mascot.
When and Where: Over three weekends from January to February (exact dates to be announced), at Parc Jean Drapeau.
Pro Tip: If you see a large group of people standing in lines strapped to brightly coloured beams and using only their legs, don’t be alarmed; it’s just Human Foosball.
Where to Stay
Aside from fun, friendliness, and affordability, the city is also very easy to navigate. All three of the festivals are easily accessible by metro. The Days Inn Downtown is conveniently located on Rene Levesque Blvd, within walking distance to the sites for Igloofest and Nuit Blanche, and a short metro ride to Parc Jean Drapeau. The 8-floor hotel offers 123 non-smoking rooms or suites, and their Kids Stay Free policy extends to all kids under the age of 18.