Craic agus Ceol i gCeanada! – fun and music in Canada

Written by guest blogger: Jody Bartley

It is coming up to that time of year again when the world turns green for the March 17 celebration of the Emerald Isle. For those of us not lucky enough to be spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, North America is a very appealing second best.

Vancouver has recently become a favourite destination to a growing population of Irish immigrants so the city is sure to celebrate Paddy’s Day in style this year.

Vancouver addressed its love for the Irish eight years ago by introducing the CelticFest. This week long series of events takes place from March 10-18 citywide. The program includes Irish music concerts, dance demonstrations, whiskey tasting and a Celtic village in the centre of downtown. Full list of events can be found at

Live music at CelticFest.

Any traditional Paddy’s Day celebration isn’t complete without a parade. The Vancouver St. Patrick’s Day parade has grown steadily over the past few years with many groups from the community adorning green for the occasion. The Irish Wolfhound Association of BC was my personal highlight last year; these majestic creatures are a sight to behold, treading the soils of Ireland since Celtic times.

Irish Wolfhound in parade. Image credit: Flickr user iwona_kellie.

Another treat that the parade has to offer is the GAA sports demonstration. Vancouver is now home to a large Irish sports and social club which plays host to the Harps football and Joseph P. Ryan hurling teams. Some Canadians may compare hurling to field hockey but I’m sure many an Irishman would disagree.

The 2012 Vancouver St. Patrick’s Day Parade is kicking off at 11am at the downtown intersection of Howe and Drake on Sunday March 18th.

As St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, it is sure to be one hell of a party. Why not start your day with a traditional Irish breakfast while watching Ireland play England in the 6 Nations rugby competition. The match will be showing live at 10am pacific time in Doolins Irish pub across the street from HI-Vancouver Central. Doolins charge $20 entry fee for all 6 Nations games, price includes a pint of the black stuff and a half price breakfast.

Vancouver St Patrick's day parade.

Music and storytelling are an intrinsic part of Irish culture and one cannot let the day pass without hearing a few tunes on the fiddle. The Vagabonds, a seven piece collective of Irish natives, will be playing at Whiskeydix, Gastown and The Forum, Granville Street on the day. If you want to dance a jig to traditional Irish tunes or rock out to U2 -check them out >>

Aside from all the fun and games, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious feast celebrated within the Catholic Church to honour the patron saint of Ireland.  According to legend, he was a snake chasing, church making, shamrock shaking guy with a beard and has today become the epitome of all things Irish. Unfortunately most Irish have come to realise over the years that the country was never overrun with snakes- too wet for them so that ruined the best part of the story. Paddy’s influence has had a far greater reach than he could have ever hoped for, but alas little of it has anything to do with religion now. If you are hoping for the luck of the Irish on the day, wear some shamrock, a symbol of the culture and good fortune.  That is if you are fortunate enough to find some in Vancouver!

Come and join us at the HI-Vancouver hostels and experience the celebrations first hand. We have some great deals available, find out more here >>


Author: Backpacker Buzz

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