Who would ever think you could throw a successful party/dance/rave/festival over four 3 day weekends in the depths of a Montreal winter? OUTSIDE! Apparently four friends and founders of Montreal’s Igloofest did.

"The four founders of Igloofest"

The four founders of Igloofest

These guys, who were behind Picnic Electronik, started the Igloofest tradition in 2007. The event has grown from 4,000 fans in the first year to a whopping 70,000 fans by 2012. Don’t forget – this is outdoors and the wind-chill can be a frosty -30 C. This year they expect even more people so a fourth weekend has been added – February 6th – 8th.

Here’s a first timer’s guide to getting the most out of Montreal’s Igloofest.

  • For starters do not bring any containers or drinks into Igloofest. They will be confiscated when you arrive at the security check point. And if you have a bag it will be searched.
  • Do wear the most outlandish ski outfits – one piece preferred – from the 80’s that you can find. Look for neon and retro – and the harder on the eyes the better. Igloofest has a reputation – well deserved as you’ll quickly see – as the most glamorous flea-market runway of the winter season. There is a grand prize for best (really worst) dressed – a trip for two down south. (Make sure you go to the pavilion to get your photo taken so you can be entered to win the Grand Prize.)
"Do you remember these ski outfits of the 80's?"

Do you remember these ski outfits of the 80’s? Photo credit – Nicolas Dupo

  • Have fun at the interactive booths. Grab a set of sticks and hit the drums at the Sapporo booth. The winner is the one who fills the glass of beer the fastest.
"Fill the beer glass by banging on the drums"

Fill the beer glass by banging on the drums

  • Hungry? Roast some marshmallows.

"Marshmallow roasting"

  • Order a drink from one of the many ice bars scattered around the venue. Mulled wine and energy drinks are also for sale.

"Order your drinks at the ice bar"

  • Grab some friends and enter the Screaming Booth. Try to cause an avalanche on the screen in front of you.

"Friends in the screaming booth"

"Avalanche - as evidence by the ice blocks on the big screen"

Avalanche – as evidence by the ice blocks on the big screen

  •  Go curling. The winner gets a prize.
"The curling table is very popular"

The curling table is very popular

  • Warm-up with some dancing but grab a good spot as this place gets packed. Dance to electronic music spun by a line-up of local and international DJ’s until 12:30 in the morning.

"Dancing to electronic music at Igloofest"

"A behind the scenes look at the dancing crowd"

A behind the scenes look at the dancing crowd

"Thousands of people dancing at Igloofest"

  • Enjoy the sight of Old Montreal from the top of the stairs looking into the main dancing venue.

"A view of Ild Montreal from Igloofest"

Some useful Igloofest Info.

  • Have fun. The energy is contagious.
  • The event takes place at the Jacques Cartier Quay in the Old Port of Montreal.
  • It’s a five minute walk from either the Champs-de-Mars or Place d’Armes Metro Station.
  • You must be 18 years old to attend.
  • Buy tickets ahead of time to save you a lot of waiting time. Prices are $355 and up plus a service charge.
  • Dress warmly but in layers as you can work up a sweat dancing. There are fires you can warm up around but only a few indoor spaces.
  • Poutine and pizza are available for purchase.

Have fun dancing, singing and drinking.

Thanks to Tourism Montreal for my complimentary Igloofest ticket. I would never have guessed that I would enjoy myself as much as I did. 

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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