For most of North America, the arrival of low temperatures brings endless nights in and inspires excuses to avoid leaving the house. In Montreal, however, many face winter head on by embracing the cold and celebrating the harshest months of the year at winter-themed festivals. One of the most popular festivals in the city designed for this purpose is Igloofest, the annual outdoor electronic music festival held in Old Port. For its 10th year running, Igloofest will be uniting electronic music fans across Montreal and beyond. Over the course of four weekends—Thursday night to Saturday night from Jan. 14 to Feb. 6—Igloofest offers light shows, ice sculptures, traditional Canadian foods, and most importantly, electronic and house music. Here is a guide for Igloofest newbies on what to expect at this noteworthy Montreal festival.
What you’ll hear
Igloofest prides itself on collecting a strong mix of local and international talent each year. With over half of this year’s lineup made up of local DJs and VJs from Quebec, Igloofest provides a platform to celebrate local culture and allow underground talent the opportunity to garner publicity and support. From the local talent pool, festival-goers can expect to hear trap mixes from DJ Lunice on the first night, classic upbeat house music from Shaydakiss on the second weekend, and minimalist techno from Stefny Winter on the final evening. On the other hand, nearly as many international artists will be welcomed from 10 different countries outside of Canada, including Germany, France, and Italy. While Spanish duo Odd Parents will be playing their darker deep house mixes on the second weekend, Mr. Oizo, a DJ from France who has previously collaborated with names like Marilyn Manson, will be playing his eerie techno mixes on the third weekend, and British DJ Swindle will put an electronic spin on bass-heavy jazz tunes on the last night. Also, among this year’s international talent is the festival opener, Bonobo, a fusionist DJ from the United Kingdom who combines styles of music from across cultures and genres in low-key electronic mixes.
“[I like Bonobo because he’s] like downtempo electronic,” Matthew Poole, U1 Arts, said. “It’s electronic, but not super aggressive.”
Bonobo is scheduled to DJ on the first night of Igloofest, Thursday, Jan. 14th. Having performed at venues across Montreal in the past, he is one of this year’s highly anticipated performers.
When to go
The length of Igloofest, spanning over 12 nights, allows attendees the freedom to choose which nights to attend based on the schedule of their favourite performers; however, many attendees also select their dates of attendance based on the weather. As a completely outdoor festival, much of Igloofest’s appeal lies in the unique experience it brings to a classic EDM concert. While dancing in crowds to fast-paced music often ensures that festival attendees stay relatively warm, there is still a certain level of discomfort cold January temperatures may present that retract from the experience.
“Pick your nights [carefully],” Clementine Pouille, U2 Arts and past Igloofest attendee, recalled. “[My friends and I] wanted to go one weekend, but we were really happy we skipped it because I heard some people were miserable in the cold.”
What to wear
In addition to strategic selection of night of attendance, festival-goers are strongly advised to dress warmly, and strategically.
“Dress in layers,” Pouille advised. “You get warm while dancing, so you can take some off, and maybe bring a small bag to carry those in.”
As an Igloofest tradition, many attendees make their warm winter wear more festive with brightly coloured and neon one-piece snowsuits, in a friendly competition (known as “Iglooswag”) for the gaudiest outfit. You can check out local thrift shops if you’re looking to participate.
What else to expect
As many attendees inevitably get tired of dancing, Igloofest offers a variety of other social activities. In addition to their main stages, the festival grounds also hold an ice bar, a photo booth, a fire pit, and a garden of colourfully-lit ice sculptures, including an ice slide. While the music is the main element of the Igloofest experience, these alternative aspects prove to be just as enjoyable for attendees.
Igloofest also offers the opportunity for celebration of culture with traditional Quebecois treats. For Julia Askew, U1 Arts and past attendee, this was most memorable element of the festival.
“I didn’t love the music […] but, they had a lot of cool Quebecois food,” Askew said. “I liked the maple syrup on snow, and the warm wine [called Caribou].”
After nine years of successful runs, this year’s Igloofest will celebrate it’s 10th anniversary by rearranging and revamping the festival grounds. According to a statement issued by Igloofest, “everything is changing places for the 10th anniversary,” including the two stages and all other social elements of the festival. With past yearly attendance rates in the tens of thousands, Igloofest is a Montreal favourite that provides a unique way to break up the monotony of winter that cannot be found anywhere else.
“[I would] recommend it,” Pouille said. “I would definitely go again.”
For more information and to purchase tickets to Igloofest, see: http://igloofest.ca/en/