Canada’s best cities for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

March 8, 2017

by M.C. Warford

St. Patrick’s Day is the one time of the year when everybody gets to at least pretend they’re Irish. Whether you want to catch a parade or hit the pubs on March 17, there are dozens of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations taking place across Canada. Here are some of the best. [Image credit:]

Canada’s best cities for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

1. Quebec City, Quebec

Most people don’t think of Quebec City when they think St. Patrick’s Day, but the fact is that Irish roots run deep here. About 40 percent of French-speaking Quebecers have some Irish ancestry. In 2010 Quebec City revived its St. Patrick’s Day parade after an 84-year absence. Althoug it’s a week after St. Paddy’s, the weekend-long Festibière is also a great way to celebrate Irish culture and enjoy the offerings of some local microbreweries.

2. Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is relatively young, having only started in 2004, but it has quickly become the centrepiece of CelticFest, Western Canada’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The parade boasts thousands of performers, including bands, horses, and Celtic warriors. Festivities last for a full week and regularly attract a quarter of a million people.

3. Halifax, Nova Scotia

With about a quarter of Nova Scotians claiming some Irish ancestry, it’s no surprise that St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in Halifax. The city’s Irish pubs open at 7 a.m. and there are typically lineups to enjoy an early Irish breakfast. In the afternoon there is a traditional parade through downtown featuring music, dancing, floats, and costumes.

4. Toronto, Ontario

Canada’s largest city is also home to one of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades, which winds through downtown and ends at Nathan Philips Square. There are a number of pub crawls throughout the city, particularly around Bloor, Yonge, and Queen streets. On the waterfront you’ll find Guinness SPD, the city’s largest St. Paddy’s party featuring live DJs, bands, and Irish dancers.


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5. Montreal, Quebec

St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in Montreal. The city has put on a St. Patrick’s Day parade every year since 1824, making it the oldest continuous such parade in the country. The event, with 100 groups participating, regularly attracts 750,000 spectators. It is seen not only as a celebration of Montreal’s rich Irish heritage, but also of the arrival of spring.

6. St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador

Finally, what better place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than in the place that is often called the most Irish place outside of Ireland? In fact, Newfoundland and Labrador is one of only three places in the world where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday (the other two being the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat and, of course, Ireland itself). George Street, which claims to have more pubs per square foot than any place in North America, in downtown St. John’s is where the festivities are focused and they last from the first Irish breakfast served at dawn to final call in the late hours of the following night.

St. Patrick’s Day is a great excuse to don your best green attire and be Irish for the day. From week-long festivals in Vancouver to traditional pub celebrations in St. John’s, there are plenty of St. Patrick’s festivities to enjoy all across Canada.

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