* I wrote this post last year for the Travel and Escape blog, but I figured the timing was right to share it here as well. Enjoy!
Why on Earth would I want to spend the night outdoors in the notorious Canadian cold?” you ask.
Well, in Montreal, the answer is obvious: the famous, festive and awesome Nuit Blanche Montreal (a French expression that means “staying up all night”— how fitting). The concept? A winter night where Montreal’s best spots—museums, art galleries, dance studios, artisan workshops and much more—are open for the public to explore and learn more about their city. Sounds great, right?
However, be warned! What is an otherwise extremely cool (quite literally!) event can get pretty dreadful if you’re not suitably prepared. Remember that notorious Canadian weather mentioned earlier? Avoid frostbite and other unpleasant surprises with these handy tips—so you can fully enjoy your night at Montreal’s White Night festival.
Nuit Blanche Montreal – A Few Tips
Obvious, right? But you’d be surprised at the amount of people who show up at the festival, ready to spend the night partying and museum-hopping, and then end up going home after an hour or two because they can’t feel their thighs any more. True story!
Never underestimate how cold your body can get, even if the temperature isn’t polar-like. Wear layers—lots of them. Take them off, or put them on, as you go. Wear thermals under your jeans, put your toque on, wear those funny-looking but life-saving mittens that you keep hidden in your wardrobe. Remember, it’s not a fashion event. It’s an outdoor night out.
Use public transportation
Forget about taking a car downtown on Nuit Blanche; most streets are closed off to cars and exclusively used by pedestrians, and parking will be close to non-existent. Instead, use the special bus routes that will take you from one area to another. The buses are handy, frequent, heated and, most importantly, free! The metro is also open all night for Nuit Blanche—the perfect (warm!) way to get back home after the night.
Keep your money and enjoy the many tasting sessions
Not only is Nuit Blanche itself almost entirely free, but there are various stands that will offer tasting sessions of local specialities or special extravagant creations. Think finger food, sugary candy and maple liquor. That should get you through the night—or at least until the mandatory poutine break.
Plan your itinerary ahead
Modern technology is quite the wonderful little thing: you can access the festival’s programme online, or via your mobile phone’s app store. This is perhaps the most important tip to keep in mind about Nuit Blanche. You see, the event has more than 170 activities, making it impossible to see everything in just a few hours. What you can do, however, is read the programme from cover to cover, pick the places you want to visit in each area, and go from there. Don’t overdo it, but don’t just show up with an open schedule either.
Last but not least, don’t rush. The festival attracts about 350,000 people, and since most activities are free of charge, it can only add up in consistently long queues. See it as a way to warm up a bit, and learn everything there is to know about that particular happening. You’ll be wiser, warmer and all around more excited for the fun events ahead!
Do you have tips for surviving Nuit Blanche Montreal? What’s your favorite thing to do?