The celebration of St Patrick’s Day in Toronto may not be centuries old, but it certainly packs a punch. Rain or shine, the Toronto St Patrick’s Day parade takes to the streets in celebration of the most famous patron saint of Ireland. The Sunday before March 17 marching bands, cultural groups, and floats fill the streets of Toronto. If you’re looking for a celebration on St Patrick’s Day no matter what day of the week it falls on, head to New York City or even to Dublin for an authentic experience. Toronto Saint Patrick’s Day is a great alternative if you’re looking to experience the music, food, and dancing of Ireland over the weekend in North America.
To celebrate St Patrick’s Day 2016 in Toronto, it is essential to have a great costume. Expect emerald-green wigs, shamrocks in every shape and size, and imaginative green costumes. It often seems that each costume is better than the last at the Toronto St Patrick’s Day parade, and as the day goes on, parade onlookers seem to acquire more and more green paraphernalia. Don’t leave your green beads, leprechaun hats, or funny sunglasses at home for this event—you are sure to regret it if you do!
For visitors who prefer a more civilized start to their Toronto Saint Patrick’s Day, there are other options for a more cultural experience. Irish tea and Irish soda bread are on offer at a few locations throughout the city, including the Montgomery Inn and Tollkeeper’s Cottage, and in particular, afternoon tea exposes visitors to a true Irish tradition. Whether this is how you choose to spend your entire St Patrick’s Day in Toronto or whether it is a civilized start to a rowdy day in an Irish pub, you’ll be glad you made the time for the extra dose of culture.
At noon on the Sunday before March 17, the Toronto Saint Patrick’s Day parade begins. From St George and Bloor, the procession will continue along Bloor Street, turn onto Yonge Street, and finish at Nathan Phillips Square on Queen Street. Wherever you set up along the parade route, expect the entire procession to take about an hour and a half to pass you. The subway provides easy access to the parade route, so leave your car at home or at the hotel, and don’t worry about parking or crowds.
After the 2016 Toronto St Patrick's parade, there are plenty of Irish pubs around the city to get yourself an Irish coffee or a pint of Guinness. The Brazen Head Irish pub is a favorite and offers music, great views of the city, and traditional Irish pub fare. If you’re looking for some Irish stew to go along with your Guinness, this is one of the city's best places to go. One of the most popular Irish pubs in town is the Dora Keogh pub. Lines will be out the door by mid-afternoon on St Patrick’s Day, so be sure to arrive early and claim your seat, but whether you wind up at Grace O’Malley’s or James Joyce Irish Pub, all offer the best of what Ireland is known for: a welcoming atmosphere, a cold beer, and music that will make your worries seem far away. If you find yourself elsewhere in Canada over the holiday weekend, check out the lively celebrations in Vancouver and Montreal.
Top image: John-Vetterli (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0