Celebrate St Patrick’s Day all Week at CelticFest

Whiskey tastings, free concerts, sword demos and more at this year's CelticFest.

Credit: Flickr / Graham Ballantyne & donnaidh_sidhe

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Celtic Fest 2011

(Image: Flickr / Graham Ballantyne)


This St Patricks’s Day, Vancouver CelticFest returns for five days of Irish heritage, plus a few mash-up cultural events


Whether you claim Celtic roots, have a love for hops or like to kiss strangers, the week surrounding St. Patrick’s Day is the week for you. This year marks the return of Vancouver’s CelticFest from Wednesday, March 16 to Sunday, March 20, 2011.





March 16–20, 2011


Various locations around Vancouver

The five-day fete celebrates not only Irish culture, but all the Celtic nations of Wales, Scotland, Galicia, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man, and includes free public concerts, a Celtic village and St. Paddy’s parade.


A pre-festival kick-off takes place on Tuesday, March 15 at 11:30 a.m. with a musical Celtic procession that will wind its way from the Vancouver Art Gallery on Georgia Street to the Plaza at Pacific Centre at Georgia and Granville. A free noon-hour concert featuring Cape Breton’s Colin Grant Band will follow.


Here, we round up some of the key CelticFest events for a well-rounded week of shamrocks, Guinness, whiskey, jigs and medieval swords.


Vancouver CelticFest irish dancers

(Image: Flickr / donnaidh_sidhe)

CelticFest events around Vancouver:


Doolin’s 5th annual Scotch-Tasting – Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Celebrate an early St. Patrick’s Day with a scotch-infused hump day party at Doolin’s Irish Pub. Spend the evening sampling what some refer to as the “water of life” at Doolin’s 5th Annual Scotch-Tasting. Jameson Irish Whiskey ambassador Rory Sheridan and Legacy Liquor’s scotch specialist Derrick Cousins will be on hand to guide you through the tasting. Tickets cost $30, includes five scotch/whiskey samples and appetizers. 


Tickets I Website


Free concerts – Wednesday, March 16 to Friday, March 18

Brave the rain, grab your lunch, duck under an awning and catch one of the lunch hour concerts at Granville and Georgia streets. Free concerts will take place from noon until 1 p.m. each day. Catch Vancouver duo Fiddlestix on Wednesday, Ottawa’s Stephanie Cadman and Jake Charron on the Thursday, and Canadian folk/funk fusion group The Wheat in the Barley on Friday.




World’s Greatest St. Patrick’s Day Céilídh at the Yale – Thursday, March 17

If you’re like me, you see the word “Céilídh” every March, but have no idea what it means or how to say it. Céilídh, pronounced KAY-lee, is a party with music and dancing, and that is exactly what you will find at the Yale on St. Patrick’s Day. Twelve of Canada’s top Celtic musicians will be on stage playing jigs, reels, polkas and ballads all night. Tickets cost $25 and are available at the door only. Doors open at 7 p.m. 




AfroCeltic Dance Party – Friday, March 18

Dance your feet off at this rhythm-filled event at the Edgewater Casino. The AfroCeltic Dance Party is a cross-cultural mash-up of Celtic and African music, featuring Alpha Yaya Diallo, Amy Stephen, Boris Favre & Allan Dionne (formerly of Mad Pudding), Stephanie Cadman, Boris Sichon, African dancer N’Nato Camera and powerhouse percussionist Yoro Noukoussi. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $28 at the door.




Gaelic football & hurling demo – Saturday, March 19

Ever heard of Peil agus Iomaniocht? It’s Gaelic for football and hurling (not the kind of hurling you do after too much green beer). Check out the free demos of ancient Irish games in the special kids area at the Celtic Village on Granville Street. Members of the Irish Sporting and Social Club (ISSC) will be instructing on Irish culture and sporting events from 11:30–1:00 p.m.




Celtic filmscreening – Saturday, March 19

Film buffs can catch a pair of Celtic documentaries at the Edgewater Casino on Saturday, March 19. The films, about Celtic music legends Donovan and Liam Clancy, are titled Sunshine Superman: The Journey of Donovan and The Yellow Bittern: The Life and Times of Liam Clancy. $10 gets you in to see both documentaries. Films run from 12:30–5:30 p.m. Tickets available at the door only.




Vancouver Celtic Fest Irish brass band

(Image: Flickr / donnaidh_sidhe)


Celtic Village and Street Market – Saturday, March 19 & Sunday, March, 20

Granville Street between Robson and Smithe will be closed to vehicle traffic for a Celtic village and street market on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival. This family-friendly event will include free music, dance performances and storytelling.




Big St. Pat’s Night Out! – Saturday, March 19

Legendary Canadian folk rock band Spirit of the West are dropping by the Vogue Theatre on Saturday for a night of high-energy Celtic roots music. Opening band the Starbirds are a roots trio from Vancouver and Victoria. Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Doors open 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m.


Website I Tickets

St.Pat’s Brewmaster Dinner – Saturday, March 19

Why not spend the Saturday after St. Patrick’s Day in a delicious food-and-beer-coma? Dine out with a hearty three-course lamb dinner paired with delicious ales at the Cellar’s Brewmaster Dinner. Tickets are $35. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Dinner starts at 6 p.m.




Celtic Swordplay Demo – Saturday, March 19

Interested in medieval sword skills? Academie Duello will be demonstrating traditional use of Medieval and Renaissance weapons from Longswords and Scottish Broadswords to Claymore and Polearms, 3–4 p.m. on Saturday and 5–6 p.m. on Sunday.




St Paddy’s Parade – Sunday, March 20

Perfect for the young, the elderly and everyone in between, the 7th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled for Sunday, March 20, rain or shine. This year’s parade will follow a new route from Howe and Drake streets to Georgia and Granville. Get there early to stake out a good street-side spot—and don’t forget to wear green!


(In the event of poor weather, bundle up in your rain jackets and hats and try to leave the umbrellas at home, as they’ll block everyone’s view behind you!)


Website I Map