St. Patrick's Day Toronto 2011

St. Patrick's Day Toronto 2011

St. Patrick's Day in Toronto is at least a little strange. Despite our oft-touted diversity, claims of some form of Irish heritage skyrocket for this 24 hour period. And that, to be honest, is actually a little bit annoying. Let's face it, you don't need to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. The only requirement is a healthy appetite for drink (preferably stout) and a disregard for one's responsibilities the following day.

Choosing an appropriate pub for the festivities is a slightly more complicated matter. Does one want the utmost authenticity in their choice of establishment? How about just a properly poured Guinness? Maybe just cheap drinks given the likelihood of going overboard? Here's a brief guide to St. Patrick's Day festivities in Toronto to help with the selection process. Oh, and if you're looking for a pseudo dose of Ireland that doesn't involve alcohol, there's always Irish Potato Nachos. Seriously. They're good.


Judging the relative authenticity of Irish pubs not located in Ireland always spurs heated debate. Nevertheless, based on an informal poll of my expat friends, the following locals do the old country just right.

  • Dora Keogh - Live music starts at 9pm, but you'll need to arrive earl to get in.
  • McVeigh's - Music starts at 12pm, but ditto on the arrival time. One of the most popular destinations on St. Patrick's Day.
  • The Ceili Cottage - Festivities start at 12pm, entertainment includes the GilCan dancers, $10 cover.
  • The Galway Arms - Worth the trip to Etobicoke. Here you'll find the best pint of Guinness and likely the highest concentration of Irish folk in the city.

If authenticity isn't high on your list, and you just want to enjoy a pint in an Irish-inspired environment, each of the pubs below will work swimmingly.

And, if beer and food selection is more of a factor than decor, these are worthy candidates.


In addition to the entertainment offered at pubs throughout the city, there are also a few St. Patrick's Day events worthy of note.

  • An Ode to Irish Cinema - If you're up for celebrating the Irish but not in for a booze-fest, the NFB will be screening contemporary Irish films for $6. Note: this event is on Wednesday, March 16th.
  • St. Party's Day at the St. Lawrence Market - Taking place in the north building, this all-day affair will feature performances by Mookie and the Loyalists, Ryan Higgins and food from Smoke's Poutinerie (not exactly Irish, but certainly tasty). Tickets are $10-$30 or we hear it's free if you follow the event on Twitter (@stpartysday)
  • Shamrock the House - The Fynn's of Temple Bar is pulling out all the stops with an outdoor tent and music from a variety of bands, including Poor Angus.
  • Toronto Beer Week 2011 Lead Up - Not technically a St. Patricks Day event, but should you have recovered from the 17th, these two pub crawls on the 19th are certainly in the spirit I describe above. Word is lots of interesting beer will be on offer.

Lead photo by Josh Belcher on Flickr.

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