Gear up for the long-awaited return of the St. Patrick’s Day parade and a lockdown-free spring!

4 minutes

Stéphane Deslauriers

Closer

After being postponed twice, the legendary St. Patrick’s Day Parade will return to downtown Montreal on Sunday, March 20th at 9:30 a.m. It’s time, folks ! We’ll finally get the chance to celebrate together as part of this great tribute to the Irish community

Beyond the parade, Irish culture has greatly influenced Montreal’s history. To this day, the Irish shamrock still decorates the flag of Montreal along with the French, English and Scottish floral symbols, and the white pine of the First Nations – a clear sign of how important the Irish were to the city’s development.

Important players in Montreal’s economy

Between 1815 and 1870, Irish immigrants, mostly of humble origin, settled in Canada by the hundreds of thousands. This demographic shift reached its peak in 1845 when several thousand farmers fled Ireland. In the following years, tens of thousands of Irish people emigrated under difficult conditions and settled permanently in North America, namely in Montreal.

In the 19th century, Irish-Montrealers contributed greatly to the city’s industrialization and took part in every major construction project, settling in many of the city’s working-class neighbourhoods. Over the years, the Irish community has blossomed and developed its own network of institutions, activities and traditions. Of course, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of those beloved traditional Irish activities that recall this community’s contribution to Montreal’s history in a festive atmosphere.

St. Patrick’s many myths

Though St. Patrick’s Day boasts a whole roster of legends and stories, one legend is particularly colourful: it’s said that Saint Patrick himself chased all the snakes out of Ireland … though the country isn’t actually home to any snakes.

The colour green and mischievous leprechaun also add to the fun. Leprechauns are known for their little green suits, beards, and funny hats, which are always popular costumes at the parade.

But of course, the colour green is the ultimate symbol of St. Patrick’s Day. So much so that in Chicago, on the day itself, the river that winds through the city runs green.

A few watering holes to quench your thirst

If you want to keep the party going after the parade, downtown is the place to be thanks to its multiple Irish pubs and cozy watering holes. So if you’re looking for ideas, here are some good places to top up.

Hurley’s Irish Pub

 

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A Montreal favourite and known hangout spot for the Montreal Canadiens, this establishment, which is just a few steps from the Bell Centre, stands out thanks to its subtle lighting, narrow rooms, and intimate booths. Enjoy some great beer, including some lesser-known brews, and some delicious Irish fare. We strongly recommend the Guinness beef stew.

McLean’s Pub

 

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With its oak panelling and elaborate fireplace, McLean’s Pub, on Peel Street, is an institution in the world of Montreal Irish pubs. On regular evenings, you can watch sports, catch a concert or see a comedy show. On the day of the parade, breakfast will be served as of 8 a.m. and at noon, The Riley Band will take you on a musical journey with a few sets of popular and traditional Irish music.

Grumpy’s Bar

As an ideal spot for a drink with friends, Grumpy’s offers an eclectic musical calendar and open mic nights that are loved by the regulars. Located  in a heritage building at 1422 Bishop Street, the timeless atmosphere is what makes this place so appealing. Since it’s located right next to the parade, it’s likely to fill up in no time once the parade is over. But if you leave the parade a little early, Grumpy’s is a great spot to head next.

McKibbin’s Irish Pub

Of the four McKibbin’s Irish pubs, the one in downtown Montreal, at 1426 Bishop Street, is the true OG of them all. Students love this place, so if you’re hoping to get in, make a dash for it after the parade. If you’re hungry, we suggest you try the house specialty: the Titanic, a larger-than-life burger stacked with layers of cheddar cheese, tender corned beef, Guinness BBQ sauce and crispy bacon. It’s also worth noting that on the day of the parade, the pub will open at 8 a.m. to serve breakfast.

N sur Mackay

This small pub, inspired by the speakeasies of the 1920s, will open early on the day of the parade. During St. Patrick’s Day weekend, they’ll only be serving the classics at N sur Mackay: Irish coffee, green beer, shooters, and cocktails made for the occasion. You can even try one of their many scotches, whiskeys, and some original cocktail recipes. It’s a perfectly festive venue to keep the party going.

After two years of lockdown, we’re all looking forward to heading back into the heart of the city to share a drink (or two), so get there early! The parade, which runs the length of St. Catherine Street from Du Fort Street to Metcalfe Street, draws thousands of people.

If you’re downtown, feel free to tag our Instagram account, @montrealcentreville, when you’re sharing your stories and hilarious photos. They’ll help us all remember this lovely tradition that’s now almost two hundred years old!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!