Saint Patrick’s Day, while being in the sole custody of Ireland and its people, has become an international tradition that the world is happy to share in. Countries across the world mark the day with massive parades and giant parties, mostly oblivious to the true meaning of the day.Having personally celebrated St Patrick’s Day on 4 different continents, including St Patrick’s Day in South Korea, I love hearing how people in other countries celebrate our special day. , an online travel agency, knows quite a bit about Saint Patrick’s Day parties thanks to their home base being located in Montreal, Quebec…home to one of the biggest St Patrick’s Day parades in Canada. I asked that some of the biggest Saint Patricks Day festivals and parades in Canada so that I could put together a list of some of the biggest celebrations in Canada while, along the way, providing a degree of clarity on what the meaning of the holiday truly is.
Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday held annually on March 17. Observed by numerous churches, the first Saint Patrick’s Day was observed in the 17th century as a celebration of Saint Patrick, the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, and Irish culture. The day traditionally involves public parades, Irish song and dance, and green attire. The association with alcohol consumption that people attach to the day today is as of a result of the lifting of Lenten rules for this day, which traditionally prohibited the consumption of alcohol during the 40 day period of Lent. This has propagated the false idea that Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration of alcoholism, which it most certainly is not according to FlightHub.
If you are wondering why Saint Patrick’s Day has become an internationally celebrated day, you can thank the massive amounts of Irish immigrants that settled across the world during what is called the Irish Diaspora. Since 1700 it is estimated that between nine and ten million Irish-born people have found new homes across the globe, with large pockets settling in countries like Great Britain, The United States, and Canada. The Irish Diaspora had a profound effect on receiving countries, making up massive swathes of respective populations. In fact, in 1851 Canada’s largest city, Toronto, had a majority Irish-born population. As of 2006, Canada’s population was 16 per cent Irish descent according to Stats Canada, a misrepresented number as many people of Irish descent identify as Canadians. One province, Newfoundland, leads the pack with a reported 80 per cent of residents having some degree of Irish descent. In fact Irish author Tim Pat Coogan is famous for saying Newfoundland is “the most Irish place outside of Ireland.” Newfoundland was actually the last province to join Canadian Confederation due to its distinct culture, only becoming a part of Canada in 1949.
Okay, history lesson over. Using FlightHub’s data I was able to identify some of Canada’s largest Saint Patrick’s Day festivals. While there are countless parades and events across Canada, there are some that go the extra mile.
Here are Canada’s three biggest and most recognized Saint Patrick’s Day festivals…
Montreal Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Montreal’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the largest and longest running Saint Patrick’s Day parades in North America according to FlightHub. Happening annually since 1824, Montreal has always been a city that has embraced its Irish heritage, including having a shamrock as part of their city flag. While the parade has been running for almost 200 years, Irish celebrations date back to 1759 when Irish soldiers stationed in Montreal began celebrating the holiday following the British conquest of New France.
Toronto Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Saint Patrick’s Day has been commemorated in Toronto since at least 1863. While that is an honour all to itself, Toronto’s Irish tradition once dominated the holy realm of ice hockey, with the Toronto St. Patricks representing the city as a member of the National Hockey League from 1919 to 1927, winning the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup as the league’s top team in 1922. This team was sold and then renamed the Toronto Maple Leafs and continue to play to this day in Toronto.
On the more recent side, Vancouver’s CelticFest has been a staple of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in British Columbia’s largest city since 2004. This weekend long event features a parade and celebrates Celtic culture in Canada according to FlightHub.
Editors note: This post was sponsored by Flight Hub and the article is a result of shared ideas between the two of us.