Canada’s longest-running St. Patrick’s Day parade is returning after a two-year hiatus. Montreal’s St Patrick’s Day parade is set to take place on Sunday, March 20th, bringing back one of the largest and most storied celebrations of the Irish holiday in North America. Though this year’s event will be smaller in scale compared to years past, the United Irish Society of Montreal is still planning to channel the spirit and festivities that have long captured the adoration of hundreds of thousands of attendees. For those looking to take part in this exciting event, here is all you need to know to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Montreal.

The Origins of Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Montreal’s St Patrick’s parade is the longest-running event of its kind in Canada. It’s been held annually since 1842, with only two official cancellations throughout its entire history. The parade was also cancelled in 1918 as a result of several World War I controversies, but that did not deter Montrealers from celebrating regardless.

Even before the parade began, Montreal has long celebrated the eminent Irish holiday. The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Montreal was held in 1759 – three years before New York City kicked off its parade. The reason for this is simple – the city has long been a hotspot for Irish immigration, to the point where Montreal’s official flag depicts a green shamrock representing the community’s prominence.

The Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Any celebration of the iconic Irish holiday would not be complete without a parade. Fortunately, Montreal’s is easily the best in all of Canada. Normally featuring floats, bands, and thousands of marchers, the 2022 parade will be smaller to accommodate changing pandemic restrictions. But organizer’s have promised that though the number of participants is reduced, the atmosphere will be just as exciting.

The parade runs down Ste-Catherine St., beginning at Lambert-Closse St. and ending at Union St. near the Philips Square and St-Patrick’s Basilica. This year’s festivities kick off at 9:30am to make the parade more welcoming for families and children. Specific activities have yet to be announced, but organizers have said that there will be plenty of activities that will be fun for kids. Plus, bands will be ever-present throughout the route to entertain attendees.

Visit One of Montreal’s Many Irish Pubs

It wouldn’t be a good St. Patrick’s Day without a visit to an Irish pub to cap the day (or start the night) on a high note. And thanks to Montreal’s vast Irish community, there are plenty of Irish and Irish-adjacent pubs to visit throughout the city for those who are looking for great food, great drinks, and great company. 

Many pubs are located around the parade’s traditional route, though on St. Patrick’s Day itself these are also the most crowded. The Sir Winston Churchill Pub is notoriously the epicenter for many such celebrations, though those looking for a quieter pub do not need to look far. 

Discovering Irish History in Montreal

If you’re looking for a quieter experience on St. Patrick’s Day, you can take the opportunity afforded by the holiday to learn more about the history of the Irish diaspora in Montreal. And there’s no better place to start than at the end of the parade’s route: St. Patrick’s Basilica. 

Celebrating its first mass in 1847, the church is a monument to the Irish community’s presence in Montreal and was the heart of it for many decades. It was recognized as a minor basilica in 1989 and is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Montreal.

Elsewhere, the Irish Commemorative Stone was the first monument to the Great Irish Famine in Canada. Known as the Black Rock, the stone commemorates the deaths of 6,000 primarily Irish immigrants from typhoid as they were immigrating to Canada. Located at Pointe-Saint-Charles right by the foot of the Victoria Bridge, the monument is a testament to Irish resilience and those who searched for a better life.

Regardless of how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or whether or not you’re Irish yourself, visiting Montreal to take in the festivities is a treat. Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are iconic, welcoming, and above all else, an experience unlike any other in Canada.

Always follow Canada and local health authority COVID-19 guidelines for travelling or visiting attractions. Learn more about current restrictions and travelling within Canada.

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