If you’re like me, exploring anything beyond your home-to-campus journey is immediately considered a maniacal thought. You haven’t indulged in anything besides chocolate and Netflix, and you know you don’t feel like a real person anymore when sensuality is you getting up close and personal with your electric blanket. When the city is one giant icicle, “going out” means freezing your face off while standing in line somewhere on St. Laurent, salsa dancing in your Sorels, and lamenting summer the whole way there and back. “Fun” is not a part of your winter vocabulary and it feels as if there is nothing to look forward to ever again…
Think again. Nuit Blanche folks, this Saturday March 1st. Free, fun everything. Nuit Blanche is Montreal’s second heroic effort after Igloofest to make winter a “fun thing”. Montreal opens its doors just enough to let you in, and that arctic wind out. Every restaurant, dance club, art exhibition, and DJ shows you what everyone in the city has secretly been doing while I was hugging my hot water bottle.
Here’s The Bull & Bear guide to bring your five senses back to life at this year’s 24-hour winter carnival:
St-Denis Street (between Mont-Royal and Marie-Anne) will be serving a feast for the eyes and stomach. The ice carving performance has got the visuals covered and the local epicurean artisans along St-Denis will delight your palate with a selection of locally produced food and drinks.
Event: Ice Carving Performance and Food Tasting
Location: The entire St. Denis strip between Mont-Royal and Marie-Anne
Time: 7pm – 2am
The Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) brings you 3 floors of sensuous delight with its event SYSMIC F/X. Here’s what they’ve got lined up:
Manuel Chantre’s Memorsion is an installation made up of twenty cloth canvases and video projectors creating an unmatched sensory experience you won’t want to miss. Check out a preview.
DJ Christelle Franca will get you dancing.
Third floor/ Satosphere
A 360-degree projection screen music-visual mashup with the local DJ scene featuring Komodo Bangoura, Mad Eskimo, Red Sound System and VJs thisisnotdesign, jocool Liberty and Diagraf.
Finally, head to the Yurt, where Foodlab will (mulled) wine you and dine you.
Event: SYSMIC F/X
Location: Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) (1201 St-Laurent)
Time: 7pm – 3am
Any other night, I’d rather dance alone in my pajamas in the warmth than pay cover to be cold. Nuit Blanche, however, is the time to let your inner fire and warm up by attending one of the many Tango classes and demonstrations by the best dancers in the city. Air de Tango and Tango Libre offer free lessons and performances so you can sizzle the night away.
Event: Free Tango classes and performances
Air de Tango (4324 St-Laurent Blvd, suite 200)
Tango Libre (1650 Marie-Anne East Street)
Time: 9pm- 2am
Looking for something more psychedelic? At Lumière Noir you’ll find neon themed lighting, rave atmosphere, dance troupe performances, and a chance to showcase your (rusty) dance talents to the beats of the best Montreal DJs around.
Event: Lumière Noir
Location: Bain Mathieu (2915 Ontario Street East)
Time: 8pm – 3am
Entrance Fee: $10
Maybe JiveStudio is more your style? 50s. Rockabilly jives. Boogie-woogie. Rock ‘n’ roll dancefloor. Free dance classes. Need I say more?
Location: 4475 St.Laurent Blvd, Space 200
Time: 9pm – 3am
Small entrance fee: $2
The last good piece of art I saw was the huge decorated gingerbread man in the library. Check out the following exhibits to break the monotony of Bronfman-grey and McLennan-beige.
From paintings, to installations, sculptures, photographs and videos, Adrian Paci’s Lives in Transit exhibition deals with collective history and identity through migration and will give you every type of visual stimulation you could wish for.
Event: Lives in Transit
Location: Museum of Contemporary Art (185 St-Catherine W)
Time: 6pm – 6am
The Expo Photo Haïti outdoor photo exhibition will remind you of what a beach and sun look like. Let the colourful photos guide you along St-Catherine and St-Urbain while you learn about the origins of one of Montreal’s largest communities.
Event: Expo Photo Haïti
Location: The corner of St-Catherine and St-Urbain
To avoid the wind blasting your face, the last “live” music you heard was most likely you blasting your speaker system, to the point of neighbour displeasure. Give your ears a gift and your neighbours a break.
24 Hours of Vinyl is that typically cool Montreal event that starts here, but ends up hijacked by DJs from all over the globe. Watch DJs literally work the decks in this pre-Mac-and-ipad grunge bar and enjoy music and dance that lasts a full 24 hours.
Event: 24 Hours of Vinyl
Location: Vinyl (2109, de Bleury)
Time: 7pm – 6am
The Jazz Festival brings the city alive in summer but on Nuit Blanche Parc la Fontaine turns into Gypsy Jazz HQ. École Jazz Manouche of Montreal are on hand to give any information wanted on this incredible improvised genre of music. You can play? Join the winter carnival madness and participate freely in the jam sessions.
Event: Gypsy Jazz HQ
Location: Espace La Fontaine (3933 Parc La Fontaine Ave)
Time: 11pm – 3am
You literally want to pull a “nuit blanche” (aka all-nighter) until your feet hurt? Be my guest. 9pm-5am, Espace Musique has you covered at the Métropolis. With Boogat, Tire le coyote, Alex Nevsky, Karim Diouf and Chantal Archambault, and DJ sets by Philippe Fehmiu and Rebecca Makonnen, if you make it through you are a real Nuit Blanche trooper.
Event: La Nuit Blanche d’Espace Musique
Location: Métropolis (59 St-Catherine E)
Time: 9pm – 5am
Let’s face it, it’s too cold to smell anything right now! Bundle up and indulge your remaining four senses. For more information on the festival or the myriad of other events check out the Nuit Blanche site.
For one night and one night only ladies and gentlemen, even the STM is pulling a Nuit Blanche. It’s open all night for $5. Get on it (literally).