Whether you have 100-percent Irish blood running through your veins or are just a big fan of Bono, Saoirse Ronan, and heavy drinking, St. Patrick’s Day offers a welcome excuse to lace up your dancing shoes and tip your hat—and a few pints—to the Emerald Isle.
This year’s St. Paddy’s Day falls on a Friday (March 17), which gives plenty of local establishments—equipped with liquor licenses and otherwise—a chance to get in on the green-tinged action. Below, we’ve rounded up the best celebratory shindigs happening around town.
Robson Square, 800 Robson Street
This year, Vancouver’s CelticFest is forgoing its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in favour of a two-day festival at Robson Square.
On Friday and Saturday (March 17 and 18), you’ll find a jam-packed lineup of performers across three stages, including Canadian folk group the Paperboys, the North Shore Celtic Ensemble, and local Celtic quartet Jocelyn Pettit Band. SFU’s award-winning pipe band will also be on-site, as well as troupes of Irish dancers.
A Celtic village and street market will offer guests a chance to shop handcrafted treasures, as well as food and drinks. Face-painting and family-friendly fun ensure the fete is appropriate for kids.
The festival is open from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on both days. A $10 cover charge will be in effect starting at 7 p.m.
Blarney Stone, 216 Carrall Street
Vancouverites serious about St. Paddy’s know that the Blarney Stone is one of the best spots to hit on the holiday. In fact, the celebrations have already started at the long-standing Irish pub and will continue until this Friday (March 17), when an outdoor festival takes over the 200 block of Carrall Street.
From 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., you’ll find Irish pipers and dancers at the Gastown joint, plus live music from local bands the Doolins, the Shenanigans, and more. Stilt walkers, hula-hoopers, and face painters make the event a kid-friendly affair during the day, though whisky and Guinness will be flowing for the 19-plus crowd.
If you’re looking to get a jumpstart on the revelry, you can visit the Blarney on Wednesday (March 15) for some Irish trivia or on Thursday (March 16), where a balloon drop will ring in St. Paddy’s at midnight.
Tickets for the St. Patrick’s Day festival start at $10 and are available online.
Railtown Café, 397 Railway Street and 968 Howe Street
Just because you work a 9-to-5 doesn’t mean you can’t get into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit early. This Friday (March 17), get a head start on the late-night debauchery at Railtown Café, where you’ll find a selection of all-day Irish-themed specials.
Think cottage-pie croquettes and Irish lamb stew, plus Guinness cans, Irish coffee, and Jameson shots to wash it all down. For the sweet tooth, there'll also be treats like sticky toffee pudding and shamrock cookies. Did we mention the $4.50 pints?
Dubh Linn Gate, 1601 Main Street
Avoid the elbow-to-elbow crowds in the downtown core—and the battle for late-night cabs that’s bound to break out—at Main Street’s Dubh Linn Gate. The Irish pub will open at 11 a.m. this Friday (March 17) with live music, Irish dancers, and all-day Jameson specials. (Grab a shot for $4 with an order of a beer.)
Select lunch options will also be available, though kids should be left at home for the most part. The event will be 19-plus after 3 p.m. Cover is $10 at the door.
Fivesixty, 560 Seymour Street
If your musical taste leans more experimental than Celtic—but you’re still looking to break out those shiny clover-glasses collecting dust in your tinkle trunk—Fivesixty’s St. Paddy’s Day shindig offers a nice compromise.
This Friday (March 17), the downtown club hosts Canadian DJ Stickybuds, a longtime Shambhala resident known for pumping up crowds with his reworked funk, reggae, and bass beats. The self-proclaimed music enthusiast will take to the podium alongside DJs Alex Mei, Allya, and JD13 before a sea of party-goers toting leprechaun- and shamrock-related paraphernalia.
(We’re willing to bet that a guy with the name “Stickybuds” performing on the greenest day of the year next to 4/20 is no coincidence.)
Tickets start at $30 and are available online.
The Pint, 455 Abbott Street
In addition to St. Patrick’s Day, the Pint will be celebrating its fifth birthday this Friday (March 17), so you know the Gastown spot is gonna be doing it big.
The pub will be opening its doors bright and early at 9 a.m., where you’ll be able to order up $7 pints of Guinness, $4.50 shots of whisky, and more. A full Irish breakfast for $10 will be available until noon and special, Irish-themed appies will be served all day.
Entertainment includes Vancouver’s Wakers Irish band and acoustic cover group the Sheets, as well as rotating lineup of DJs who will be spinning until 3 a.m.
The Wise Hall & Lounge, 1882 Adanac Street
Prefer to supplement your celebratory beer-chugging and whisky-swilling with a little edge? Look no further than the Wise Hall's St. Paddy's Day bash, where Shane’s Teeth, a local tribute band that honours legendary Celtic-punk band the Pogues, will be headlining.
The group—whose name nods to Pogue frontman Shane MacGowan’s notably decaying gnashers—will be accompanied by B.C. bluegrass band Still Spirits and East Van ensemble the Staggers & Jaggs.
Tickets are $15 in advance online and $20 at the door.
Storm Crow Tavern, 1305 Commercial Drive; and Storm Crow Alehouse, 1619 West Broadway
Vancouver’s favourite nerd bar will be celebrating St. Paddy’s Day in the best way it knows how: with a bevy of Irish-themed drink specials and a marathon screening of every Leprechaun movie ever. (We can’t be 100 percent sure they’re not kidding about the second part.)
Visit either of Storm Crow’s locations on Friday (March 17) and enjoy $5 sleeves of Red Truck Beer’s Brew of Cthulhu and Crannog Ale’s Back Hand of God stout, as well as $5 shots of Jameson. The kitchen, meanwhile, will be cooking up a meaty, stout-infused stew for the occasion.
Lonsdale Quay, 123 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver
Head to the North Shore this Friday (March 17) and Saturday (March 18), where Celtic dancers, Irish-themed food and drinks, and local artisans await.
The Cheshire Cheese Restaurant, situated on the second floor of the market, will host its annual St. Paddy’s dinner on Friday complete with entertainment from the Eire Born Irish Dancers and U.K. swing quintet Irish Paper Moon.
The following day, guests will be able to browse handcrafted goodies for the home, closet, and pantry from an eclectic group of local makers as part of the Lucky March Market. Samples of Irish stew from Sharky’s Chophouse and a stout from Green Leaf Brewing will also be on offer.
Doolin’s Irish Pub, 654 Nelson Street; and Belmont Bar, 1006 Granville Street
Doolin’s will open at 11 a.m. this Friday (March 17) with tables available on a first-come, first-served basis. (Playing hooky just got a lot more appealing.) The Irish pub has a full lineup of entertainers planned for the afternoon and evening, including local musicians Callum O’Riordan and Paul Caldwell. DJ Johnny Awesome will take over at 9 p.m. and prizes such as Canucks tickets and St. Paddy’s swag will also be up for grabs.
If Doolin’s is packed by the time you arrive, don’t fret: next door, Belmont Bar will also be opening at 1 p.m. for the celebrations.
The Waldorf, 1489 East Hastings Street
The Waldorf is putting its expansive space to good use with a multi-room bash for St. Patrick’s Day. Hit the East Van venue this Friday (March 17) from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. for a dance-party titled Dogma that will see nine DJs on deck.
Toronto’s Fear the Priest and local techno producer JGarret will work the Tabu room, while DJs Gdubz, Rocky Fi$her, and SearaMann will offer bass, funk, and dub in the Hideaway.
Attendees can also expect body-painting and St. Paddy’s Day décor and visuals. Tickets are $20 at the door.
The Cascade Room, 2616 Main Street
Live music, an Irish-style feast, and plenty of booze will be on hand for the Cascade Room’s St. Patrick’s Day fete. This Friday (March 17), the Mount Pleasant hangout will be offering specially prepared dishes, a selection of Irish whisky cocktails, and a special dry Irish stout cask courtesy of Main Street Brewery Company.
Entertainment by local group the McBrewers kicks off at 8 p.m. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.