Montreal is known for its very cold and unpredictable weather conditions. This past winter, Montreal was hit with several polar vortexes that brought temperatures of -30°C, leaving everyone desiring to fend off the extreme cold. Luckily, the city has developed ways for its inhabitants to feel comfortable and festive during these harsh weather conditions.
The Underground City of Montreal is one key feature that allows Montrealers to cope in the wintertime. In Downtown Montreal, one can travel 33 kilometres of underground city corridors where about 500,000 people pass every day, connecting 9 hotels and 2000 commercial centres. The Underground was originally created as tunnels to connect metro stations, and then branched out to connect the tunnels to downtown malls. However, MTL Blog states that the Underground City is Montreal’s most overlooked destination.
Many Montrealers do not take advantage of the warm, engaging, and lively atmosphere created by the underground tunnels. There are cafés, restaurants, retail stores, salons, and there is even an indoor skating rink. Such things can be advantageous to those who want to explore Montreal’s core or have a simple day in the city – the underground city, that is.
Locals tend to not explore this phenomenon that tourists deem to be a great addition to the city. Tourists are more inclined than locals to visit this place that is one of Montreal’s defining factors.
Although Montreal is mainly known for its outdoor festivities during warmer weather, the city tries to keep the atmosphere of the festival alive through various activities that take place in the Underground. For example, an underground art festival, called Art Souterrain, is going on March 2nd through the 24th. The festival will be showcasing local and international art along a 6-kilometre route, and it is completely free and open to everyone.
On the Art Souterrain website, it states that “the festival is a major Montreal winter event that brightens the daily lives of many thousands of residents and visitors alike.” This year’s theme revolves around the notion of “True or False.” Art Souterrain states that, with the increasingly digitized world, societies now have difficulty distinguishing the false from the real; therefore it challenges passersby to keep this in mind while taking in the art.
The Underground City of Montreal is crucial to Montreal’s identity, especially in the wintertime. It effectively brings together tourists and some locals to enjoy a day together while being indoors. By implementing and using the space to establish and spark joy within the inhabitants of the city through art festivals and the like, Montrealers can enjoy being part of this community, despite what is deemed to be harsh climate.
Written by: Maria Dryden