While the world suffers from xenophobia and other forms of exclusionism, somehow the Irish get lucky. On St Patrick’s Day, world over, everyone delights in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. Perhaps its the green Guinness or just the shamrocks and leprechauns, but participating in this annual Montreal tradition is a breath of fresh air after the winter. Many think of this day as the gateway to spring, with all the patios of the Crescent street bars packed before, during, and after the event.
The parade starts at 12 p.m. at the corner of DuFort and St. Catherine. The great gathering of floats and bands starts earlier on Rene Levesque if you want to see what’s coming. Over a 2-3 hour period, the parade of 108 different societies/bands/groups/dignitaries makes its way down St. Catherine before ending at Phillips Square. Nearly everything you could want to know can be found HERE
Who can we expect to see? Well, Irish organizations of course. We’re big fans of the Irish Wolfhounds but you will also see the Bernadette Short School of Irish Dancing, Bloomsday Montreal, the St. Andrew’s Society, The Montreal Shamrocks Gaelic Athletic Association, Viking du Vinland, the Montreal Irish Rugby Football Club, CHOM, and the Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers. Floats, bands, and lots of happy smiling people space things out.
1) Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be standing for at least a few hours if you watch the whole thing.
2) Use the metro to get there. Parking is brutal during the parade. Also, if you’re drinking, best not to drive anyway. Best stops include Atwater, Guy/Concordia, Peel, and McGill. Or, take the orange line to Georges Vanier and walk up the hill under the 720 to get to the parade. Station Lucien L’Allier is also possible.
3) Dress warmly. 5 degrees Celsius doesn’t sound bad when you’re walking around, but you’re standing around at the parade. This is all the more important if the snow is falling (and there’s some prediction of this). Bring a thermos full of something hot to drink — whether hot water, coffee, tea, hot wine, mulled cider, or something else.
4) Expect crowds. Everyone loves the parade — young and old. The least crowded spots are between the metro stations. Still, you can expect it to be pretty crowded.
5) Wear green.
6) Bring your biggest smile. Friendly, happy people line the streets. It’s an awesome social event.
7) If you’re planning to drink, have a plan where you’re going to imbibe. The bars get crowded, especially on their patios. Some people skip the parade and make to the bars for breakfast and stay all day, or send a few friends to hold the perfect space.
Where does the drinking happen?
Music often accompanies the drinking.
Brutopia in particular will have a massive bash with the band, $100 Bills. If you happen to go St. Patrick’s day, catch Kevin McNeilly with the Honey Meads starting 10 p.m. Both are free.
Hurley’s Irish pub has a special St. Patrick’s Day breakfast at 8 a.m. on March 17 along with The Crazy Folkers playing upstairs and Solstice playing downstairs from 4 p.m. onwards. The day of the parade, Hurley’s has a breakfast at 8 a.m., and the music starts earlier at 2 p.m. with Solstice downstairs and the SQuid Jigger upstairs. Again, think free.
Ye Olde Orchard has Bud Rice playing on March 17 at 6 p.m., and the band Good Time Charlie playing on March 20th starting at 3 p.m. Free as can be.
The Irish Embassy promises Celtic Jones and the Dwayne Dixon Band on March 17, a live CHOM broadcast on March 18 (along with a breakfast for $12 from 6-10 a.m. with an Irish coffee), and on Parade day, from 9 a.m., Breakfast until 11 a.m., Celtic music at 12:30 p.m., and the Kenny Durpee Band starting at 6 p.m. Again, all free.
Fiddler’s Green Irish pub has an Irish breakfast on the 17th with live music. On March 20th, doors open at 9 a.m. for Irish breakfast and live music.