Nuit Blanche 2020 provides the antidote to winter blues

As the leap day came to an end, Montreal found another way to overcome the lack of daylight and the harsh weather. Montreal’s Nuit Blanche, a famed annual tradition, took place from Feb. 29 into the early morning of Mar. 1. Nuit Blanche offered Montrealers something to look forward to amidst the winter gloom. The event, which was filled with music, art installations, and significantly, brightly colored lights, fell in the middle of one the most depressing time of the year. For audience members who had attended the event in previous years, 2020’s iteration of the festivities did not disappoint. The exciting mixture of art forms attracted more than 300 000 people, all of whom were eager to see the hundreds of attractions spread out across the area. 

This year’s theme was “Nuit Blanche verte,” and some notable sights included the light displays and shows part of the “Montréal en Lumière” in the Quartier des Spectacles, which included a Ferris wheel covered in neon lights and an enormous slide at the center of the whole festival. On top of these attractions, the night also featured artists who played with the colour green through various exhibitions of green-themed artwork while others used it as an opportunity to spread messages of warnings about global warming. An important example of this was “From the Big Land.” This piece of visual art, displayed at Concordia, plays with sound and images to create a kaleidoscope of enchanting scenery as images from Glenn Gear’s (a Newfoundland-born and Montreal-based filmmaker and visual artist of mixed Inuit ancestry from Nunatsiavut) photographs of Labrador’s nature as well as beadwork and sealskin, mixed with images from archives of other Indigenous artwork. The installation explores the way in which we think about the planet, Indigenous land, and its cultural and historical contexts.

To add to this environment, several DJs played music throughout the night, which made for an overall positive mood.

Meanwhile, McGill came alive for the night, with installations set up across campus. The Redpath Museum went dark, shuttering its lights to allow for visitors to wander its halls with a flashlight, in line with the Montréal en Lumière theme. The museum being something students rarely take advantage of, this was an extra exciting opportunity to discover what this McGill landmark has to offer. Even the Schulich School of Music had a series of musical chairs set up, while the Otto Maass Chemistry Building, which demonstrated feats of green chemistry. Organized by the Chemistry Outreach Group, the exhibit featured several impressive explosions.

Students might have also enjoyed night clubs that night which also participated in the Nuit Blanche like Café Campus organizing a themed night “Retour à la Jungle,” while some bars were allowed to serve alcohol until 6:00 am.

Overall, Nuit Blanche is definitely an event worth attending. Even while you are in the midst of midterms and essays or endless labs and lectures, this festival reminds students as well as all Montrealers that there are several ways to take a break from our bustling lives. This year’s ‘Nuit Blanche verte’ offered an escape from our very restricting bubbles.

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