The Igloofest Experience

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Igloofest is a perfect symbol of Montreal.

Nestled in the back corner of the old-fashioned beauty known as Old Montréal, and straddling the Jacques-Cartier pier, Igloofest is a pulsing beacon of light beckoning me from the Champs-de-Mars metro while flurries tumble down.

While I wait for my ticket, an eccentric man wearing ski goggles tells me highly questionable tales of his days as an undercover cop—the fact that I don’t speak french doesn’t deter him.

My senses are overwhelmed as I enter Igloofest in a way that reminds me of my first Warped Tour as a teenager. The massive throne of the main stage has a psychedelic light show displayed across enormous L.E.D. screens and the huge dance area is already packed despite it being only 8:00 p.m. A techno rhythm emanates from towering speakers and I feel the bass reverberating through my bones.

Throngs of bundled-up 20-somethings are laughing and boogying, but traditional sexed-up nightclub grinding is impossible in full winter garb. I stroll through the crowds, bobbing my head to the beat, and admire the wacky costumes—I can’t believe Spiderman and Chewbacca are making celebrity appearances at our humble winter festival.

Bars are in no short supply. I count over half a dozen while exploring Igloofest. It’s my first time trying the Japanese beer Sapporo; I have to say I prefer Quebecois and New England brews to the hoppy saké blend.

The “Igloofest Cocktail” is impressive, however; I’ll definitely be requesting a Jagermeister and root beer next time I’m on Crescent Street. The simple and sweet blend is delicious.

Pleasant surprises await me as I venture deeper into the party zone. There are glowing fire pits with free marshmallows provided by the Société de transport de Montréal, with complimentary metro seats burrowed in the snow. As I take a seat in front of the fire, with my sugary treat on a stick, I almost fall over. It feels like I’m on a moving metro – but maybe I imagine that. The STM seats being outside confuse my tipsy brain.

Amongst the ice sculptures of alcohol logos, in the center of the festival are two air hockey tables. I approach the huddled lines of people at them, only to find they’re actually mini-curling. I stick around to watch a few games. Being American, I am captivated by the strange and foreign sport.

The Virgin Mobile Igloo is the high point of my night, where I “rage.” In a thick haze of body-heat warmth, the inside of the dome is a bumpin’ venue. An aggressive DJ is getting everyone hyped and a fiery energy radiates through the crowd. I learn all about TrapStep at this party-within-a-party and I wear myself out krumping and Bernie-ing and getting crazy.

The rest of my night at Igloofest consists of shadow projections, taking pictures at the “Solotech Experience,” warming my hands at the trashcan fires like a hobo, more dancing, more bars, and always more snow.

I start to succumb to the cold and my muscles freeze, so I stumble up the stairs by the docks to get one last glimpse at the epic party. As I survey the bustling crowds, the electronic rainbows of light, and the nobility of Old Montréal in the distance, bathing in warm golden streetlights, that’s when it hits me: this event is pure, 100 per cent Montreal.

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