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Icy Fun and Gastronomic Delights Highlight Montreal’s Winter Festivals

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An ice slide is part of the wintery good times at Parc Jean-Drapeau, site of the annual Fête des neiges festival. (Photo by Eva Blue)

While the weather outside might be frightful, winter in Montreal can be immensely delightful. To help visitors make the most of the frigid temperatures, the city has several winter wonderland festivals to warm your weather-worn spirits. So, strap up those boots and check out some of Montreal’s festive seasonal offerings.

Igloofest: For a few weeks, the Quai Jacques Cartier in the Old Port of Montreal will be transformed into a massive snow globe of sorts filled with music, magic, and merriment. Igloofest has been called the “coolest music festival” in the world and attendees know why. Minus-a-million-degrees weather in the dead of winter doesn’t stop electronic music fans from turning up the heat through a big ole dance party with some of their fave acts.

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The Igloofest is quite likely the most fun you can have in sub-20-degree temperatures. (Photo by Vivien Gaumand)

The 2020 lineup includes REZZ, Nina Kraviz, ANNA, Zeds Dead, Charlotte de Witte, RÜFÜS DU SOL and i_o. Don your fave party snowsuit and enjoy electronic music en masse.

More Igloofest Coverage: Rave On in Montreal

2020 Dates: January 17-February 8
Location: The Quai Jacques Cartier in the Old Port of Montreal (see map below)

Fête des neiges: Fête it up with your family with this four-week outdoor event. The 37-year-old “snow festival” is all about enjoying winter via seasonal activities, including dog-sledding, ice slides, an ice ship, and ice carving. The highlight? Sixteen tube-sliding lanes, erected for the first time, enable festival-goers to peep a spectacular view of downtown Montreal from the top of the hill before you breeze down the slopes. Talk about a picture-perfect thrill ride.

ice-carving-fetes-des-neiges-montreal-Gilles Proulx

Ice carvers are among the attractions that make Fête des neiges worth exploring. (Photo by Gilles Proulx)

2020 Dates: January 18-February 9
Location: The festivities will take place at Espace 67, Parc Jean-Drapeau’s new event playground. 

Montreal en Lumière: Billed as one of the largest winter festivals in the world, Montreal en Lumière includes gastronomical goodies, music, theatre, and art in downtown’s Quartier des Spectacles. World-renowned chefs and wine producers join forces with their Montreal counterparts to offer fancy foodie gastronomic experiences. Then, work off all the delicious fare with ziplining, sliding, and curling. Montreal en Lumière also includes the city’s version of Nuit Blanche, an all-night fest that attracts more than 300,000 art lovers who stay up through the night to take in the almost 200 mostly free shows.

See 2019 En Lumière Coverage

There’s something for every taste: live outdoor entertainment, activities for kids, warming stations, marshmallow roasting, bars, food trucks, and art.

montreal-en-lumiere-Frédérique Ménard-Aubin

Montreal en Lumière ignites the winter experience with whimsical lights and rides, as well as plenty of food and drink. (Photo by Frédérique Ménard-Aubin)

2020 Dates: February 20 to March 1
Location: Quartier des Spectacles 

Ilumi: This new multi-sensory festival from Montreal-based production company Cavalia will light up your life, quite literally. More than 10 million lights brighten winter’s long, dark nights in this large-scale outdoor complex. The festival displays eight colourful worlds illuminated with light sculptures and immersive video installations, as well as a sprawling Christmas Village with local artisan vendors, gourmet seasonal food and drink, live entertainment, and a Tree of Lights that towers 47 metres (154 feet). The festival, laid out over a space of almost 550,000-square-feet, makes this one of the largest multimedia sound and light shows in the world.

Dates: Until January 5, 2020
Location: The Illumi site is located in Laval, along Highway 15 between Boulevard Saint-Martin and Boulevard du Souvenir. The site address is 2805 Boulevard du Souvenir, Laval, Quebec.