Igloofest 2020: 14 years of electric winters

From embracing local hip hop to welcoming new international DJs, the festival slightly reinvents itself this year.

The biggest music festival of the winter enters the new decade, facing past concerns head-on, from diversifying and expanding its programming, to managing gender diversity and sustainability issues.

Montrealers eager to warm up by dancing on the coldest nights of the year will flock to the Quai Jacques-Cartier in the Old Port for the festival’s 14th edition, spanning over nine nights between four weekends, from Jan. 16 to Feb. 8.

This year, Igloofest seems to have found the right balance in its programming, knowing how to please its loyal festival-goers in an ever-changing electronic music landscape.

“We are aware that people’s tastes evolve, and we have always been trying to dig out future trends while pleasing our loyal audience,” said Nicolas Cournoyer, co-founder of Igloofest and Piknic Électronik.

The festival’s aspiration for trendiness might explain why they have dedicated an entire night to hip hop for the first time this year. Along with other so-called “Off-Igloo” events, the night of Jan. 30 will feature local hip hop stars, including rappers Loud and White-B, along with DJ Charlie Shulz.

Closer to Igloofest’s roots, some Montreal favourites are also making their comeback this year. Having just released a very well-received new album, Kaytranada will warm up the Sapporo stage on Feb. 1, along with High Klassified. Kaytranada’s last Igloofest appearance in 2018 broke the attendance record of the festival at that time, likely making his 2020 appearance the most anticipated show at Igloofest this year. Cournoyer said he is very proud to welcome the two DJs once more.

“It was important for us, since the very beginning, to push for Montreal artists to have a platform here,” he said. “Although at first, when we used to be much smaller, we could almost only have Montreal DJs, we still grew in a way that would allow space for emerging local talent.”

With that goal in mind, Cournoyer said that in the early 2010s, the festival decided to build a second stage, dedicated strictly to Montreal artists, that would compensate for the arrival of international DJs. Voyage Funktastique and Cri are among the favourite local stars that had participated in the first editions of Igloofest to come back this year.

Igloofest has diversified itself in many ways — its lineup encompasses many genres, from EDM to house, hip hop to techno, but also with guests from all over the world, and a growing presence of women artists.

Cournoyer said that gender equality is a priority for his festival. “We are flirting with parity in our lineup this year,” he said. “We have been very lucky to find exceptional women artists, such as Nina Kraviz and Charlotte de Witte.” This will be minimal techno DJ de Witte’s second performance in Montreal, following a successful show at Osheaga last summer.

If festival-goers had been complaining about lack of representation of women in music festivals recently, they also raised important questions regarding sustainability. Cournoyer said that Multicolore, the company responsible for Igloofest and Piknic Électronik, will do more this year, as past editions’ efforts might not have been enough to reduce their environmental footprint.

Not only does he claim they will try to compensate for the gas emissions caused by the transportation of their guests by planting hundreds of trees, he says Igloofest will also ban plastic water bottles and will bring reusable cups and straws this year.

Once the festival comes to an end, Montrealers can measure if these efforts have been successful. Until then, they can fight off winter blues by dancing to their favourite DJs.

For more details about the programming, visit


Photos by Youmna El Halabi

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