A brooding night sky hangs above you, and a couple of stars wink lazily in the frigid Montreal air. In the momentary silence, we all hold our breath—nearly ten thousand of us, from university students to parents, travellers to locals. I can imagine the quiet lap of the icy water against the pier beyond the stage. We wait, our excitement tangible and our presence heating the air around us by at least ten degrees, until all of a sudden a synthetic bass beat electrifies the crowd. Immediately, people start to move, jumping to the beat, waving their arms with the strobe lights, letting the erratic sounds and timbre take control.
Since 2007, electronic dance music (EDM) has energized Montreal’s Old Port in the dead of winter, persuading thousands of people to leave their cozy beds and brave the city’s negative temperatures for several hours.
Max Gross, U1 Science, described the festival’s unique ambiance in an interview with The Tribune.
“The atmosphere is really unlike anything there, however, and Igloofest is chilly in line but sweaty as hell when inside the main stage area,” Gross explained. “I went more for the crazy atmosphere than the music and I think a lot of people can relate to that.”
With two stages—one massive and the other more cozy—several interactive tents, and food and beverage vendors, the festival has more than enough to keep anyone entertained for the night.
Depending on your desires, there are many ways to approach a night at Igloofest. If you are coming from afar or have a distaste for lines, I suggest going early. Getting to the festival around 7:30 p.m. will have you inside the gates in about 15 minutes when everything is only just starting to fill up. Take your time to visit the beverage stands, where you can get a multitude of drinks that come with a festive reusable cup. Maybe mosey around to the sponsor tents and follow a live choreographer to gain the upper hand on all the dancing that’s bound to come, or grab some free samples (this year it was Cadbury chocolate, yum!).
If you start to get hungry, visit one of the food trucks that promise to supply a variety of spins on poutine. I suggest hurrying to the enclosed room beyond the second stage to keep your food warm and let your fingers defrost before the night’s finale. Being early also gives you the advantage of casually picking your spot for the concert and finding fun neighbours in the crowd.
But if you’re not interested in spending that many hours outside, pregame at home with friends before heading to the festival, and save some money by eating beforehand. After all, as Gross put it,“The pre is always more fun than the post.”
For Karthikeya Gautam, B.A ‘23, Igloofest’s negative temperatures push the boundaries of outdoor music festivals.
“We have a general perception about the winter—once Christmas is done, that’s it,” Gautam said. “No enjoyment for the next four months. But Igloofest challenges that very idea, that it doesn’t matter if the sun is setting at 4 p.m. every day: You can still get together with a bunch of people, head outside, and dance to your hearts content.”
Another lover of Armin Van Buuren’s performance, Léna Ginesta, U2 Arts, confirmed the festival’s allure in an interview with The Tribune.
“Igloofest was definitely one of the craziest things that I have experienced in Montreal. It is a must-do for anyone who’s in the city while it’s taking place,” she said.
Whether you’re an EDM fan or not, bundle up and get yourself down to Old Port. The atmosphere, musicians, and the beauty of falling snow glowing in neon light promise a surely magical night. After all, can you really say you had the Montreal experience without going to the world’s coldest music festival?