In Toronto, we have Irish pubs and Irish bars but we also have plenty of other places to spend St. Patrick’s Day.
Toronto loves St. Patrick’s Day, largely because the history of the city is very much tied to the migration of peoples from Ireland to Toronto. Irish migration has come to shape the city in lots of ways and a lot of people do find enjoyment in celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in one or more of the many Irish bars and pubs across the city. There is nothing wrong with drinking Guinness in a warm, comfy pub but there are also plenty of alternatives if that’s not your thing.
In a city steeped in so much Irish history, there are plenty of places where we can appreciate Irish culture sans alcohol, or perhaps through a different perspective.
1. Niagara Falls Illuminated
Every year, on St. Patrick’s Day, Niagara Falls is illuminated with lighting so that the water appears to turn green. It happens just before the hour, starting just before 8pm until just before 2am.
It looks amazing and there is definitely something great about seeing one of the most beautiful natural features of the world illuminated to celebrate the day.
2. Toronto Irish Film Festival
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the festival, which celebrates Irish cinema and brings it to Canadian audiences. Showcasing films from Irish directors and directors of Irish heritage, the festival screens some Gaelic language films and has always taken place on the first weekend in March. It takes place at The TIFF Bell Lightbox and tickets will be on sale on the website from February 14th.
3. Visit Ireland Park
Every year the park runs an event called ‘The Official St. Patrick’s Experience’ which offers Irish food, Irish music and, yes, Irish alcohol (although this is, of course, optional). Last year, tickets cost $20. However, you can visit Ireland Park throughout the year. The Park contains several statues of figures designed to represent those who made the perilous journey across the sea from Ireland to Toronto in order to escape the Great Famine. Many died of disease either on the ships or in the sheds erected for them in Toronto. There is a limestone wall on which the names of those who passed away under these circumstances are inscribed.
Many of the survivors will have gone on to raise families in Toronto and visiting Ireland Park is a way to understand part of Ireland’s history where it intersects with the history of Toronto.
Any future events should be posted on their website soon.
4. The Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5k
So, this event doesn’t celebrate Irish culture in Toronto but it is a nice way to give back to your community whilst celebrating the day. This year is the 21st annual run, so it’s been going for a long time. It takes place on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day – March 15, so you could definitely partake in this run and then do something else on the 17th.
The run is organized by Achilles Canada: ‘a member of an international non-profit organization, Achilles International, whose mission is to enable people with all types of disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics, promote personal achievement, enhance self-esteem, and lower barriers.’ More details can be found on their website.
5. St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Most of Toronto will have seen the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the past and it will come as no surprise that it’s returning this year. The event really is a celebration of Toronto’s Irish roots, whether or not you love the plastic shamrocks and green beads sported by many in the crowd.
Attending the event is simple, just turn up and join the crowd or simply watch. More details are available on the website but if you live near the march then you will won’t need a map to find it!
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