Grandchamp Structure Design overcomes weather and site restrictions to build a “techno-chalet” for a winter festival.
Montréal en Lumière (Montreal in Light) is one of the largest winter festivals in the world, drawing more than one million people annually to take in fine food, performing arts, family-friendly activities and nightlife in the midst of a season of short, dark, cold days.
Challenges for tenting such a festival are no surprise.
“Winter in Montreal, Canada, is hard in February,” says Nelson Grandchamp, production manager for Grandchamp Structure Design of Montreal. The company manufactured and installed the 2018 festival’s 40-by-120-foot BELL Chalet, which housed live entertainment and DJs, video games, virtual reality and a bar. “We had snow during the installation, followed up by high winds and rain. Bad weather is hard on the crew and on the equipment. The customer had a whole crew for removing the snow and the ice on all of the event site.”
The site presented a second challenge. The tent was installed at Place des Festivals (Festival Plaza), which in the summer features the largest array of animated, interactive fountains in Canada, with 235 water jets. To avoid damaging the fountains, heavy equipment wasn’t allowed, and because of the plaza surface, staking wasn’t allowed. In addition, the site was unlevel, with a 48-inch difference from one end of the tent to the other.
“The plaza is located in the very heart of downtown Montreal; there are a lot of people passing by,” Grandchamp says. “In addition, the other supplier is installing their stuff. There are a lot of people in a very tight space.”
The company overcame the heavy equipment ban by using a winch system to raise the tent, and the tent was ballasted with concrete blocks. The installation, which included an additional 20-by-30-foot clearspan, required three days, which was sufficient despite the weather.
While the festival is in its 19th year, this was the first year that Grandchamp Structure Design supplied tents, and the first year the event promoter desired the “techno-chalet” structure for entertainment.
“To accomplish this idea, the customer needed to rig a lot of audiovisual equipment to the frame of the tent,” Grandchamp says. “This is why we chose the XL aluminum profile [Model XL beam, 4½ by 12 inches] to accomplish this project.”
The rigging capacity on the tent was more than 60,000 pounds, and a custom black interior made the space look like a true concert venue, Grandchamp says. The structure utilized black and white vinyl from BondCote and 13-mm double flap DuraKeder from Keder Solutions.
The promoter, a major Montreal event producer, loved the chalet, Grandchamp says, and is discussing future festivals with the company.
“Next year will be the 20th edition of the festival, so they might want to do something even more awesome,” he says.