Get Your Green On: the Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2018 in Canada
I love St. Patrick’s Day.
As someone with Irish roots, it’s one of my favourite holidays, and I’ve even attended the festivities in Dublin, Ireland. March 17 marks the death of Saint Patrick, Ireland’s most famous patron saint, and celebrates Irish pride across the globe.
For one day, the entire world “goes green,” letting loose with foamy pints of green beer, dancing, and donning crazy-looking leprechaun hats. Canada is no exception: with Irish heritage scattered across the nation, you’re bound to encounter a “good craic” (party) somewhere. If you’re up for a shindig on March 17, here are a few of the best places to get your green on for St. Patrick’s Day in Canada.
Surprisingly, there’s a whole lot of Irish heritage in French-speaking Canada.
The Irish and Quebecois share a history spanning back 150 years, when waves of Irish immigrants—many of whom were fleeing the Potato Famine—settled in Montreal. In fact, National Geographic voted Montreal as one of the top 10 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world.
On St. Paddy’s Day, raise a glass to this unique Irish heritage at one of Montreal’s Irish pubs, where you can enjoy a pint of green beer with hordes of other revellers. For live music and 50 different single malts, mosey over to Montreal’s oldest Irish Pub, Le Vieux Dublin; or chow down on a hearty bowl of Guinness beef stew at Hurley’s.
After the big day, show your Irish pride at the Montréal St. Patrick’s Day Parade, taking place on the first Sunday after March 17. It’s actually the longest-running of its kind in Canada—uninterrupted since 1824—and you’ll be treated to a three-hour procession of vibrant floats, performers, and partygoers marching along Sainte-Catherine Street. If you’re an out-of-towner, Best Western Montreal Downtown Hotel Europa is located near the parade route, and you can rack up rewards points (5 per dollar) by charging your room to the Best Western Rewards Mastercard. You’ll receive an additional 10% in rewards when you stay at a Best Western Hotel, plus free room upgrades.
“The 6ix” is hopping on St. Patrick’s Day, starting with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade; but the real bash rages in Irish pubs across Toronto on the big day. The Ceili Cottage starts early at 9am, hosting “St. Paddy’s Day shenanigans” on March 17. Aside from pints galore, there will be Irish dancing, live music, a full Irish breakfast, and two beer tents on the outdoor patio. Or you can join the Guinness-swigging crowds inside McVeigh’s Irish Pub, a 50-year old family-run drinking hole that’s “seriously Irish.” On P-Day, enjoy cheap bites and beers in a crowded dining room surrounded by portraits of legendary Irish poets and musicians. After a rowdy night out, fuel up on a hearty Irish breakfast at the George Street Diner in the heart of Corktown, an Irish enclave in Old Toronto where famine-fleeing Irish immigrants settled in the 19th-century.
For an overnight crash pad, book a room at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. It has a central location close to all the festivities, and you can use the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express to cut travel costs. Signing up for the card yields a 20,000-point bonus, which will get you at least one free night at upscale hotels in the Starwood/Marriott network.
This little town on the prairie has something completely different brewing for St. Paddy’s Day, and it doesn’t necessarily involve beer.
The Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades are playing an Irish-themed hockey game against the Prince Albert Raiders at SaskTel Centre on March 17. The entire evening will be one big St. Patrick’s Day celebration featuring performances from a local Irish band, The Residuals, along with Irish dancers. If you’ve got the luck of the Irish, enter the 50/50 draw for a chance to win $50,000 and other prizes when the whistle blows. Of course, green beer will also be served, courtesy of the Great Western Brewing Company, a popular microbrewery that uses 100% Saskatchewan barley.
Although there’s public transit in Saskatoon, you’ll likely want a vehicle to get around – especially since the SaskTel Centre sits on the outskirts of the city.
Did you know that the Irish have called Nova Scotia home since the 1660s? It all began when settler Roger Casey arrived, married an Acadian, and spawned the Caissy family. In fact, Irish immigrants helped establish the province’s capital, Halifax. So if you’re on the East Coast, what better place for a bash on March 17?
Irish or not, Nova Scotians of all heritages love a good party. On St Patrick’s Day, some downtown bars open as early as 7am, and feature Irish music and dancing – as well as some dang delicious Irish stews. One of my all-time favourite bars is the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse, but you’ll have to be an early bird to snag a spot in this popular pub on St. Patrick’s Day.
Travelling to Halifax? Sign up for the BMO Air Miles World Elite Mastercard for a bonus of 1000 Air Miles just for making a single purchase, which you can put toward your flight, hotel, or rental car. The card has other perks too: get 3000 more Air Miles, the first year’s fee waived, and a companion flight rebate after spending $3000, a 25% discount at National and Alamo car rental locations, out of province medical coverage, and the chance for double Miles accrual when you combine the card with your Air Miles card at Air Miles partner merchants.
Why not go green in Canada’s capital city? While most Ottawa pubs will offer some merry-making, the party’s epicentre is most definitely the Heart & Crown in the lively ByWard Market neighbourhood. This cozy drinking den decked out in dark wood is one of five pubs linked under one roof, known as “The Irish Village.” If you go pub hopping in the village on St. Patrick’s Day, make sure to toast to the hard-working Irish-Canadians who built Bytown and the Rideau Canal.
St. Patrick’s day is bound to be an amazing time no matter where in Canada you celebrate. Just remember two critical things:
- Pack the right plastic in your wallet to make your money stretch
- Remember the Irish word for cheers: Sláinte!