Canada bears a deep connection with the Celtic Nations. The Canadian heritage, having sprung mostly from the British — with a good measure of French mixed into Quebec — means most Canadians connect strongly with British tradition and ceremony.
Celtic Celebrations in the New Country
In standard west coast fashion, St. Patrick’s Day this year in Vancouver, BC, kicks off with a fund-raising race. There are few things better than starting off a crisp spring weekend in Stanley Park to watch runners start a 5K race to raise proceeds for the Canadian Diabetes Association. Festivities begin at the Stanley Park Pavilion at 9:00 am on Saturday, March 16.
I’ll admit the biggest draw for me is the after party, with food, a DJ, awards, costume contest, prizes, and of course, beer. Details here: http://www.stpatricks5k.com/
What’s St. Patrick’s Day Without a Parade?
On Sunday I’ll head over to the parade, put on for the past nine years by CelticFest Vancouver. Like last year, the Parade will be on Sunday at 11:00 am, and will begin on Howe and Davie in downtown Vancouver, proceed north along Howe to Georgia, and end at Georgia & Granville Streets. Parade participants include award-winning pipe and drum bands, Celtic musicians, Scottish and Irish dancers, acrobats, stilt walkers, vintage cars, the Vancouver police motorcycle drill team and pipe band, and much more.
This is one of the best celebrations of the day because there will be a real mix of ages, interests, and styles. It’s great to see people from all cultures and walks of life unite together under the simple concept of wearing green and having some good fun. The parade ends where the Celtic Village set up, on Granville Street between Robson and Nelson, where the high culture and artistry of Celtic music and dance, language, customs, and fine arts will be on display.
Revelers can get some tasty eats, browse the fine crafts and wares at the Street Market, and enjoy some Celtic cheer. There will be free music both days at the Doolin’s Music Stage, and family fun at the Kids’ Celtic Corner with song and dance, face painting, and swordplay demos.
This is the perfect opportunity to have a daytime beer outdoors, normally not allowed in Vancouver, while listening to some very talented local and visiting musicians sing and play. The mixing and mingling of the parade will continue all day.
Drinks and Pub Crawl
Many Canadians use St. Patrick’s Day as an excuse to have a drink, in the supposed Irish tradition. The allure of the celebration, however, is doing so in an appropriately celtic setting. While there are numerous Irish pubs around Vancouver, they fill up fast when everyone gets the same idea at the same time.
There are two options available to make sure your St. Patrick’s Day celebratory drinking properly celtic: get somewhere early and stay there all night; or, buy tickets in advance. There could be a disadvantage to being stuck in a single establishment the whole night, while the disadvantage to buying tickets in advance is that you will be shepherded from place to place on a schedule.
Vancouver’s St. Patrick’s Day Club Crawl starts at the Blarney Stone on 216 Carrall Street at 6:00 pm. A $25 ticket will get you VIP access to four downtown night clubs via party bus. Participating venues include: Vinyl Retro Lounge at 455 Abbott St, The Roxy Cabaret at 932 Granville St, The Cambie at 300 Cambie St, and Doolin’s Irish Pub at 654 Nelson Street.
Details on the Pub Crawl can be found here:
Either situation may turn out to be a blessing! One thing is for sure, standing in line all night with other impatient revelers is no one’s idea of the best way to spend a St. Patrick’s Day evening.
Keta lives and works in Vancouver. She will be wearing green for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and street festival, where she’ll be most interested in the great music put on by talented Celtic players who have transplanted here.