Indeed, Montreal’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, this year on March 16, is widely claimed to be the third largest in the world, with several hundreds of thousands of revelers lining the Sainte-Catherine Street parade route (leaving Fort St. at 12 pm and heading east along Ste. Catherine to Phillips Square). What can be said without doubt, however, is that Montreal’s Irish parade – featuring hundreds of floats, marching bands and street performers, and more good-natured mayhem than you can shake a shillelagh at – is the oldest in Canada, having run continually since 1824.
Irish immigrants played a significant role in the founding of Montreal (a shamrock is represented in the city’s flag), and nowadays it’s not uncommon to meet someone named Patrick O’Brien… whose first language is French. Another enduring legacy of these early Irish pioneers is the wealth of Irish Pubs, many of which are located within a leprechaun’s toss of the St. Paddy’s Day parade route. Montrealers love their Irish pubs year round, but there’s a special intensity to the gaiety this time of the year, and the celebrations can be expected to start in the days before the parade, and well into St. Patrick’s Day itself (March 17).
Key to your St. Patrick’s experience will be classics like Hurley’s Irish Pub, which typically kicks parade day off with a hearty Irish breakfast, which is advisable before tucking into their extensive single malt selection. Breakfast is also the order of the day at the Irish Embassy, which will have special Irish-themed entertainment all weekend. Ye Olde Dublin is, as the name suggests, Montreal’s oldest Irish pub and is renowned for its authentic Celtic music.
Not to be outdone, McKibbons Irish Pub has a full slate of live performers (dancers, bands, DJs) all weekend, as well as breakfast specials. For their part, brew pub Brutopia is a popular stop and will feature live music by Haidrian’s Wall, and if endurance is your forte, then prepare for McLean’s Pub’s “Long-Ass Weekend,” including bagpipers, a pot of Emerald Isle entertainment gold if ever there was. Erin go bragh!
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, March 16, 2014
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