How To Survive Montreal’s Coolest Festival: Nuit blanche

* 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

nuit blanche montreal

Dress appropriately

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.

nuit blanche montreal

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.

nuit blanche montreal

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.

nuit blanche montreal

Be patient

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?

6 Comments on How To Survive Montreal’s Coolest Festival: Nuit blanche

  1. Cheryl Howard
    February 11, 2014 at 10:34 am (4 years ago)

    Really love that last photo – stunning! Great tips. I was surprised how many people in Iceland were unprepared for winter weather as well … wearing heeled boots on ice fields for example. :)

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      February 11, 2014 at 11:52 am (4 years ago)

      Some people really did that!? Jeez. But I shouldn’t be surprised, many ladies go to Nuit blanche with teeny tiny coats and high heeled boots!

  2. Tiffany
    February 14, 2014 at 11:24 am (4 years ago)

    As much as I don’t like the cold, the snowy pictures look absolutely stunning. One day I’ll make it there and hopefully not freeze to death in the process, it sounds like so much fun.

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      February 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you so much Tiffany! I don’t think I’ve ever heard about anyone freezing to death during the festival, you should be ok ;-)

  3. AlainSojourner
    February 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm (4 years ago)

    Hopefully, I’ll be coming this year. But you still haven’t told us where you took the last photo? :)) I’d love to spot that on.

    • Marie-Eve Vallieres
      February 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm (4 years ago)

      It’s on the top floor of the Notre-Dame-du-Bonsecours Basilica, on top of a very narrow staircase! I think it’s only open on Nuit blanche festival though.


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