Montréal is Cool- Not Cold
As a tour guide, I spend my days showing off the beauty this city has to offer. The sites, the scenes, the culture we locals have of embracing Montréal summers with long lunches, park blankets dotted with wine bottles, guitars and Tupperware overflowing with palate-popping potlucks. We each contribute to the summer buzz that has my visitors set on moving here. But what happens in winter when it gets cold? they ask.
We layer up and get out there. We locals have tough skin, or a believable set of poker faces. I told my partner I’d be compiling a list of things to do this winter the other night, and with a skeptical smirk he looked at me and said, “Like what?”.
Herewith, some events and spots where you’ll find Montrealers getting their winter on in 2018 along with me and (little does he know) my partner.
Where to bust a move?
This past weekend, the Dômesicle crew kicked off their set of seven Saturday night parties from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. in the Satosphère, an 18-metre-in-diameter dome with immersive screenings. There are close to 30 DJs and artists manning electronic celebrations guaranteed to get your feet moving.
The SAT is also hosting their fifth edition of the SAT Fest, which features seven 40-minute films in the dome. Start your night with hypnotic projections, grab some grub and share tables at the yummy low-key FoodLab restaurant on the third floor. After a second bottle of natural wines, get back in the dome to dance it all off.
This year’s edition of Igloofest, a hugely popular outdoor dance party, features a larger-than-ever line-up, main stage area and a new grilled food section to keep you warm.
Let mama feed you
The PHI Centre welcomes Slovenian chef Ana Roš, named top female chef of 2017. Women With Knives rolls out over a few days with discussions followed by tastings and cooking demos with dinner. A collaboration between Roš and Rimouski’s star chef Colombe St-Pierre has an 8-course meal take over at Restaurant Candide.
Work it like an Ice Queen
Things heat up on February 3 at La Sala Rossa for the Winter Wonderland Vogue Ball & Dance. The ballroom will feature the popular walks, heart-stopping drops, performances and battles with a dizzying array of categories and prizes. Five hundred big ones go to the top Ice King/Queen and the best-dressed is also up for some cash. Winter wear is a must.
Make a cozy purchase
For super harsh days better spent curled up with a book, my place has got to feel homey. I’m a regular at Boutique Lowell, which is a dangerous I-want-it-all spot. Nothing sets the mood like their set of Ville-Marie bougie bougies, locally made-with-love candles. For bargain wall decorations, worth checking out is the Station 16 urban art gallery, which showcases goodies from local and international artists, at their annual archive sale this January 20.
Get out and play
My second home in the city is Mount Royal. I especially enjoy nighttime winter walks up the Olmsted Trail: moonlight beaming though frosty branches, glittering snow and a small bottle of liquid courage stowed inside my jacket. For those interested in venturing off the main trails and into the woods, Les Amis de la Montagne offers afternoon and evening snowshoe treks led by a guide, including the warmth of a midway hot cocoa. The Les Tuques Bleues Benefit Event is back with evening walks and snowshoe races—a throwback to the Montréal Showshoe Club’s hikes of the 1880s—followed by prizes, fine food and music. Proceeds go toward helping preserve our jewel of a park and greenspace.
If outside isn’t your thing, Les Classiques is hosting a 5-km subterranean marathon downtown or our “underground city” this February 18. This same internal network will be turned into a massive free art walk for the tenth year in a row with the abundant installations of Art Souterrain starting March 3. The routes launch Nuit Blanche, Montréal’s redeye, free-of-charge cultural mega-fest. The all-nighter concludes the MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE festival which features a free must-visit three-day cheese tasting at Complexe Desjardins, which I rarely miss, because, well, free cheese.
Wintertime and Montréal livin’ is easy. Get out there and enjoy.
Danny Pavlopoulos, blogger
Danny Pavlopoulos is the co-founder of Spade & Palacio Non-Touristy Tours, a Montréal tour company offering guided bike tours, walking tours and food tours for small groups. Nothing cliché, just the best of Montréal’s off-the-beaten path experiences and hidden gems.