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St. Patrick’s Day Parades Around the World including Toronto 


The world is going green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, as people around the globe celebrate with parades and other events. This includes the Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade of course, which happens downtown at noon on Sunday March 17. Over 75 million people around the world claim to be of Irish descent, so it’s no wonder that St. Patrick’s Day has become a worldwide phenomenon.


One of the most famous St. Patrick’s Day events happens in Chicago when organizers use green powder to dye the Chicago River green. The Chicago St. Paddy’s Day dates to 1858. It’s estimated that 800,000 to a million people attend the festivities each year.

New York City

The largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world is held annually in New York with over two million spectators and approximately 150,000 participants. The parade dates to 1762.


Several cities in Ireland continue the tradition of holding St. Patrick’s Day parades with Ireland’s most popular being held in Dublin each year. This year’s parade looks like it will be one of the largest with 4,000 parade participants and an estimated half a million spectators.

The tradition of the St. Patrick’s Day parade began outside of Ireland as many of those who immigrated from Ireland to other countries centuries ago wanted to celebrate their heritage and culture. According to www.ireland.com, the US was first to hold parades with the tradition dating back to 1601 to a Spanish colony that was located in modern-day Florida. Boston is credited as being the city that kicked it all off in 1737. Today an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 attend the Boston parade.

To honour the famous Saint, several famous structures across the globe are illuminated in green on St. Patrick’s Day including The Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, the London Eye (Ferris wheel) in England and the Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade, photo by Barry Green

Here at home, the route for the Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at the corner of St. George and Bloor St. West (near St. George subway station), heads east on Bloor Street, turns south on Yonge Street and finishes at Dundas Street.

At the Toronto parade you’ll see floats, marching bands, pipers and numerous community entries. The parade lasts approximately an hour and a half, with respected hockey executive Brian Burke serving as the 2024 Grand Marshall.

The Toronto Parade began in 1988 as a massive celebration of Irish Canadian culture with thousands of participants and over 100 entries.

Leprechaun spotted in Toronto St. Patrick’s Day Parade, photo by Barry Green

The St. Patrick’s Parade Society is a not-for-profit organization which puts together several events each year. According to their Mission Statement, “The St. Patrick’s Parade Society are the custodians of a tradition to celebrate Ireland’s history, culture, and heritage through entertainment. We are a not-for-profit, event staging organization responsible for the Grand Marshal Ball, the St. Patrick’s Parade Lunch, Celtic Island, and the Toronto St. Patrick’s Parade.”


Other large scale St. Patrick’s Day Parades are held in cities like London (in Trafalgar Square), Montreal, and across major cities in Australia and the US. The parade also happens in some unlikely places.

Here’s a list of other popular annual St. Patrick’s Day parades around the world, provided by www.ireland.com 


Buenos Aires hosts the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in South America with an annual street party.

Copenhagen invites everyone to Rådhuspladsen for a festive party of Irish culture and a green parade.
photo courtesy of the Irish Embassy


Copenhagen invites everyone to Rådhuspladsen for a festive party of Irish culture and a green parade.


Stockholm has a parade and last year included a pop-up Gaeltacht (Irish speaking area)


Munich holds a the country’s largest celebration in honour of St. Patrick’s Day


In Spain from Alicante to Valencia, the country hosts numerous Irish-themed events.

Tokyo St. Patrick’s Day Parade, photo courtesy of the Irish Embassy


There are over 40 St. Patrick’s Day events held across Japan with parades in Tokyo, Yokohama, and Fukui


The tiny Caribbean Island is the only country besides Ireland where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday!


Lithuania also adopted the practice of dying the river green (in this case the Vilnele River) to mark the saint’s day.

Origin of St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day was established in 1631 as a modest religious holiday in honour of Ireland’s patron saint who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. The day of celebration fell in the middle of Lent and people began using the occasion to celebrate. However, it didn’t become a public holiday in Ireland until 1904.

Guinness SPD Toronto

Guinness St Patrick's Day Party Toronto

Torontonians can start the festivities the day before St. Patrick’s Day by attending Canada’s largest St. Paddy’s Day Party called the Guinness SPD Toronto. The all-day party takes place on Saturday March 16 and features live music, fiddlers and Irish dancers, activities like interactive games, photo booths, pancake breakfast and more.

Be sure to wear green and count yourself ‘lucky’ as you attend this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

For more information visit St. Patrick’s Day Parade Toronto at stpatrickstoronto.com, Guiness SPD Toronto at spdcanada.ca and Tourism Ireland at Ireland.com

by Laurie Wallace-Lynch

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca   

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