Why You Must Attend Igloofest
Every winter, Igloofest brings together thousands of electronic music lovers to dance under the stars at Montreal’s Old Port. My first time checking it out was in January 2014. I booked a bus ticket, hotel room, and headed up to Montreal for the weekend solo.
Fast forward, February 2018 will be my fifth annual visit.
I’ve received a lot of questions from people in my networks who see my consistent positive feedback about this event, so I decided to put together an informative piece as this year’s festival approaches. I’ve narrowed everything down to a compilation of 10 reasons to go to Igloofest, covering its three weekends of programming, travel packages for out-of-towners, and ways to maximize your time in town. This is a really unique festival and one of my top three annual activities, so I can’t wait to share my thoughts. Read on:
1. Outside. In the winter.
This atmosphere is like no other I’ve experienced at a festival. Only at Igloofest will you meet those wild enough to party in the cold! With igloo-like structures and ice sculptures completely outdoors (and on the water, mind you) no doubt it’s cold. If you’re lucky, a light snow fall will feel magical. But that’s not stopping anyone. In all honesty, if you dress properly and spend the time dancing like you’re supposed to, you won’t even notice the bitter air. You’ll be surrounded by thousands of like-minded people, so there will be plenty of warm energy to go around. (#ProTip: heavy duty lined snow boots, hand & toe warmers, gloves, and a hat are essential. Its not uncommon to go all-out with a snow suit.)
2. Super affordable
Let’s talk price. Igloofest runs Thursdays (7:30pm-11pm), Fridays (7:30pm-12:30am), and Saturdays (7:30pm-12:30am) for three weeks. The cost to attend? $20 or $25 per night (general admission), depending on which date. If I lived closer though, I’d totally go for the Igloopass, which guarantees access to all nine evenings with priority access to the site, from $100! (For obvious reasons, the sale on this one is over.)
If you’re looking for something more, other ticketing options include Igloozip (ticket + zipline), Iglooweekend, individual & group VIP, and an Iglooparty package. Find the deets on those here.
3. Hotel packages for out-of-towners
If you’re traveling from out of town, you’re going to need a place to sleep. Or if you choose not to sleep, a place to take a break and leave your things while you’re on the dance floor! Igloofest has a partnership with some great hotels so you have the basics covered – the hotel package includes a room, festival ticket, and hat. That said… you can get, for yourself, a bed for one night, a ticket for one night of the festival, and an Igloofest hat all for as little as $68! #WOW. Specifics:
Hotel: HI Montreal
>> Starting at $68.00, it includes:
- One night at HI Montreal in a 4-bed shared room
- A ticket for Igloofest
- Igloofest beanie
BOOK HI Montreal deal!
Hotel: ZERO 1
>> Starting at $152.00, it includes:
- Two tickets for Igloofest
- Two beanies
BOOK William Gray deal!
Hotel: William Gray
>> Starting at $220.00, it includes:
- One night
- Two tickets for Igloofest
BOOK William Gray deal!
Hotel: W Montreal
>> Starting at $257.00, it includes:
- One night
- Two Igloofest VIP tickets
- Igloofest beanie
- Two drinks at Bartini
BOOK W Montreal!
I’ve had some notable meals in Montreal. In this case, you may find one of the deals below, that include a special menu and an Igloofest ticket, appealing:
- VIEUX-PORT STEAKHOUSE
- BRASSERIE 701
- MÉCHANT BOEUF
- MODAVIE ET TAVERNE GASPAR
- VERSES BISTRO
- KYO BAR JAPONAIS ET MAGGIE OAKES
4. World-renowned + local artists
The lineup is always a selling point on a festival. I’ve gone to a few where I was familiar with the artists; I’ve gone to a few where I was unfamiliar with the artists. It all comes down to the music and the experience as a whole in the end, and I’ve had a wonderful experience in both scenarios. Marie-Laure Saidani, who handles booking, is good at her job programming it all. (See GLOWKIDS’ interview with her here.) She started making offers in February of last year, so it’s been a stellar lineup in-the-making for some time. With two stages running for multiple hours each, there’s a whole lot of talent packed into each night. I actually just spoke with her the other day before the first weekend began.
The most exciting weekend? That’s difficult. I’m excited about Kiddy Smile, a French guy from Paris. I’m very proud of Sasha and Digweed for the first time in 10 years in Montreal. Two legends. I’m excited to see Petit Biscuit live.
The 12th edition of Igloofest offers a rich programming bringing together several of the most in-demand local and international artists on the global circuit, covering an even greater spectrum of the electronic music universe, including Sasha and John Digweed, Bonobo, NGHTMRE, Petit Biscuit, and DJ Esco, among others. Full lineup by date:
Thursday, January 18
Friday, January 19
Saturday, January 20
Thursday, January 25
Friday, January 26
Saturday, January 27
Thursday, February 1
Friday, February 2
Saturday, February 3
5. Focus on VJs
VJ’ing is a special practice itself. Like a DJ/producer, VJs are also artists and performers, and often don’t get the spotlight. Look around the events you attend and notice the detailed graphics flooding the video walls. This normally isn’t just some program set on auto; there’s someone behind it who is curating those visuals on the spot, and in some cases, created them from scratch. There’s a huge visual element to the production level of Igloofest, and there are a number of VJs involved. The festival team actually matches VJs and DJs and trying to coordinate one VJ per musical act. It’s also wonderful to see them all recognized by name on the lineup along with the musical acts.
“We’re a team of three people, we’re the programming team. For the VJs, it’s the same process as for the DJs. We watch what they’re doing, we see demos, and we see them live.” –Michel Quintal, Programming & Partnerships Director and Co-Founder
6. Proud support from the Government of Québec
The Government of Québec is proud to support Igloofest, a major winter event in the city of Montréal. Lighting up the quays of the Old Port for the twelfth consecutive year, this electronic music festival generates significant economic and tourism spinoffs not only for Montréal and the surrounding area but also for the whole of Québec.
This event has won growing recognition over the years. Today it is internationally renowned, attracting thousands of enthusiastic electronic music fans who come to enjoy and discover the music of artists from Québec and abroad. Decidedly, Igloofest contributes to the vitality and visibility of Montréal and Québec, strengthening our brand as a tourist destination celebrated for the diversity of its winter activities.
Minister of Tourism
Minister responsible for the Mauricie region
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy
Minister of Public Security
Minister responsible for the Montréal region
That’s pretty cool.
7. The most friendly & fun vibe ever
Upon entering the grounds, you’ll see partygoers rocking snow suits and kygus and animal heads. Everyone’s smiling. I’ve gone solo and been welcomed into countless dance circles like a long-time friend. This crowd isn’t snobby or egotistical or timid. Everyone I’ve met and observed is so genuinely happy, it’s wild. Contagious, you could say. Take a look at last year’s recap video and you’ll see exactly what I mean:
8. On-site activities
I’ve used the word “experience” quite a few times. What does that mean? There’s a whole lot more to the festival than the lineup and video walls. The festival element shows off fun things like ice luge, ice slides, fun photo booths, ice hockey, a playful Igloovillage, and plenty of on-site photo opps.
Can’t forget the #Iglooswag contest! A popular symbol of Igloofest’s festive spirit, the hotly anticipated Iglooswag costume contest has grown to unexpected proportions over the years. Unpretentious but oftentimes taken very seriously, it grants each evening the dimensions of a crazed costume ball. We welcome snowsuits and wacky costumes of every kind ! Of course, we still honour the good old one-piece of past decades. Lacking inspiration? We thought about that! Themes per weekend spice up your wardrobe choices and increase your chances of winning the grand prize!
Drinks are nice, but food is better. My personal favorite is the poutine! And marshmallows. (Yes, they’re roasted over a fire.) There’s more available too, like hot dogs.
10. Old Port of Montreal
Going to Igloofest gives you the opportunity to also explore the city of Montreal. I’ve been to many major cities around the world, and Montreal remains my favorite. What can you do when you’re not at the festival? Continue the party into the wee hours (or afternoon) at Stereo or Circus afterhours. Explore St. Catherine Street and Chinatown. Lunch on a turkey club and macaroons at Maison Christian Faure. Snack on sticky buns and tea at Ming Tao Xuan Thé.