Whether you’re Irish by blood or Irish at heart, St. Patrick’s Day is a time to go green and honour that long-departed patron saint of Ireland. So put on your best green duds, don a goofy hat or a sparkly shamrock pin and join the celebration of Irish culture at a parade near you. Here are some of the biggest and best.
Held every year since 1824, the Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the oldest parade of its kind in Canada. A large replica of St. Peter opens the cheerful event, which also includes floats, live music, giant leprechauns and loads of happy spectators decked out in green. The parade begins at 12:00 p.m. on the corner of Fort and Ste. Catherine Streets, and running east to Phillips Square.
Lasting approximately two hours, Toronto’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade draws more than 300,000 people each year. Along with the floats and marching bands, the procession will include a variety of Irish cultural groups and organizations. The parade starts at 12:00 p.m. on the corner of Bloor Street and St. George, then makes its way along Bloor and down Yonge Street before finishing at Nathan Phillips Square on Queen Street.
Even though it doesn’t feature floats, decked-out cars or colourful exhibits, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC is the largest in the world, with more than 150,000 participants and approximately two million spectators. This year, the parade will be held on March 16. Kicking off at 11:00 a.m., it will take the entire procession—including firefighters, police, military groups, cultural clubs, bands and more—about 5 ½ hours to finish the 1.5-mile route along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue.
Running from March 9 to 17, Vancouver’s annual CelticFest celebrates Celtic culture and heritage with a variety of events—from concerts and dance presentations to Celtic film screenings. The largest and most popular of the free events at CelticFest is the St. Paddy’s Day parade on March 17. Featuring over 2,000 participants, including stilt walkers, Irish dancers, and award-winning pipe and drum bands, the parade starts at 11:00 a.m. on the corner or Howe and Davie and ends at Georgia and Granville.