It’s winter action madness at Barbegazi 2018

Jamie O'Meara

For the outdoor fun fan, just in terms of the sheer amount of crazy activities alone, it doesn’t get better than Montréal’s Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival. The one-of-a-kind, all ages, super family friendly event that’s free for all returns for a sixth edition this year with, true to form, a few extra added tricks up its winter coat sleeves.

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Snow + gnomes = action!

The Barbegazi Winter Action Sports Festival is named for mythical gnome-like creatures said to inhabit the French and Swiss Alps, and who are notable for their long, frozen beards and enormous feet that they use for snowshoeing and avalanche surfing. And word is you might even see one of the wily, mini mountain men if you keep your eyes peeled at this year’s edition of the popular participatory fest. After helping kick off Montréal’s 375th anniversary celebrations last year at a temporary downtown location, Barbegazi returns to its roots beside the annual Winter Village on the Esplanade of the Olympic Park for two weekends, January 13-14 and 20-21, from 11 am to 4 pm.

A site to behold

The Barbegazi site is, indeed, a sight: a flurried frenzy of activity in what is essentially a giant winter playground. This year part of the Esplanade has been converted into a “snowskatepark” that everyone from beginners to experts are invited to try out, and coaches will be available to get you gliding. (For the uninitiated, snowskates are skateboards but for snow, i.e., there are no wheels. To see it in action, check out these videos.) Snowskates will be available for the curious courtesy of Québec’s Ambition Snowskates. There will also be an electric fatbike course, with high-performance, all-weather fatbikes supplied by E2-Sport. And be sure to bring your skates: the Winter Village has free skating on a temperature-controlled rink as well as a new ice course you can manoeuvre around this year (skates are also available to rent).

A winter funderland

For the competitive-minded cold weather warriors out there, Barbegazi is again offering the always-popular Christmas tree throwing, axe throwing, arm wrestling and lumberjack competitions, as well as Volley-Pong (a supersized version of pong) and the basketball-based Tic-Tac-Dunk. New this year is the Hammer and Nail game (pounding good fun which you can see for yourself here), and for those wishing a more serene winter festival experience, also new this year is Snow Yoga.

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It’s cool to be warm

Should the temperature drift to the nippy side of the scale, no worries, you can take a warm break with a hot chocolate in one of the Heat Zones. And keep your energy, and your core temperature, up with hot meals available from several of Montréal’s famous food trucks. For more information about programming and other activities, be sure to visit the Barbegazi website.

Jamie O’Meara

Jamie O’Meara, blogger

Jamie O’Meara is a writer for The Montreal Gazette, C2 Montréal, Moment Factory and more. He also manages the PR Team at the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and is the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.