Rolled out for the first time in 2022, and back from February 16 to March 5, 2023, the Skating Loop, a unique multimedia experience produced with major support from Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) and Tourisme Montréal, attracted nearly 25,000 Montreal skaters last year. It quickly became a must-experience at the Montréal en Lumière festival. Now, this gem of Québec engineering is ready to be presented for the first time to visitors from around the world!
Creating a “first ever”
An original and innovative concept, designed with Montreal’s winter-loving spirit in mind, the Skating Loop inspires citizens to return to downtown Montreal and reclaim space vacated after the pandemic: a play of illuminated installations, exciting musical atmospheres, constantly heated comfort, and an optimal skating experience in an urban environment.
All of the senses are engaged during the Skating Loop experience. From the elevated structure, rising 2.5 meters above the ground, skaters are treated to a breathtaking view of the urban panorama, enhanced by large-scale video projections on the facades of surrounding structures, including the Wilder Building and the UQAM President Kennedy Pavilion. Hundreds of LED tube lights add enchantment to the icy course, while a state-of-the-art sound system disseminates a playlist compiled just for the event.
Heating things up north of the 49th parallel
Erected in the heart of the city’s bustling social and culinary hub, Place des Festivals, the Skating Loop is surrounded by heated oases specially designed to ensure skater comfort: a chalet, sheltered from the cold, for putting on skates, as well as a covered, heated terrace at the SAQ Bistro, where visitors are invited to relax after taking a few laps.
Skating, a tradition embedded in Montreal’s DNA
Jacques Primeau, Chief Executive Officer of Montréal en Lumière, initiated the far-reaching project that is now in its 24th year. Along the way, the Festival has developed unparalleled expertise in Nordic-context events and illuminated animation. Highlighting skating as a central activity of the festival seemed a natural extension, given the intimate and historic link between skating and the City of Montreal.
Public rinks have long been important socio-cultural gathering places that, much like hockey, unite communities. A true hallmark of our “Montréalness,” hockey has been played in small and large arenas across the city forever. Montréal d’hier et d’hiver, a work by artist Karine Lanoie-Brien, illustrates this rich history in the form of large-scale projections around the Skating Loop, using archival images from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to document the long love affair between Montreal and skating.
Brilliantly met technical challenges
Bringing a project as elaborate and audacious as the Skating Loop to life presented its share of challenges. The team wanted the installation, which would occupy the entire Place des Festivals, to have a positive visual impact, not only for skaters on the ice, but also for people admiring it from outside the rink. The design of this impressive aerial structure had to also support the weight of bystanders, as well as 4 inches of ice, coolant…and an 8,300-pound Zamboni! Additionally, the ice would require frequent resurfacing, given that the Skating Loop attracted an impressive number of skaters in 2022: between 250 and 300 people per hour took advantage of this unique winter experience!
Success at every turn
In 2022, nearly 25,000 skaters enjoyed the magical Skating Loop experience. The popularity of the project was evident as soon as it was announced; it generated 153 times more traffic than usual on the Festival’s social networks!
The Skating Loop was created in 2022 after being selected among a call for projects initiated by the Fonds de maintien des actifs stratégiques touristiques (FMAST) of Tourisme Montréal, supported by the Ministère du Tourisme du Québec.
The 24th edition of Montréal en Lumière, presented by Loto-Québec in collaboration with Scotiabank, takes place from February 16 to March 5, 2023 at Quartier des Spectacles.
The complete program can be found here at montrealenlumiere.com
Location: Place des Festivals, Montréal
Inaugurated: February 2022
Concept: Jacques Primeau, General Manager, Montréal en Lumière
Production Executive: Louise Laliberté, Vice-President of Production and Business Development, Montréal en Lumière
Design: Mélanie Tessier, Director, Experience Design, Montréal en Lumière
Lighting Design: Bruno Rafie, Lighting Consultant, Montréal en Lumière
Production: Vincent Testard, Director, Production Operations, Montréal en Lumière
Suppliers: Nicolas Paulette, Project Manager, Échafauds Plus
Ice maintenance: Loue Froid
Photo credits: Victor Diaz Lamich for MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE and Frédérique Ménard-Aubin for MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE, Benoit Rousseau for MONTRÉAL EN LUMIÈRE