Monday, May 27, 2024

What to do in Ottawa 2024: The St. Patrick’s Day weekend edition

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No parade, but here are some things you can do in Ottawa this St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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Although there won’t be a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ottawa this weekend, celebrations are happening in pubs, Legion halls and community centres across the region. Here are five parties to consider checking out.


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Raise a pint — and your voice — with a bunch of singing rogues during a sea-shanty singalong and concert at Beyond The Pale, the popular local brew pub that serves as home turf for Ottawa’s Bytown Sea Shanty Collective. That’s where the group came together, bonding over their shared love of beer and sea shanties, the type of folk song sung by sailors to lighten the repetitive labour aboard a ship. The goal is to make it a “totally accessible” singing experience, with lyrics projected on the wall and song leaders to keep things on track. Admission is free. The fun starts at 8 p.m. Sunday. 

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From the same folks who bring us the summer-time Almonte Celtfest comes a St. Patrick’s Eve ceilidh taking place Saturday at the Old Town Hall, 14 Bridge St., in the town of Almonte about 30 minutes west of Ottawa. The music starts with an informal trad session at 6:30 p.m. (bring your instrument), followed by the youthful energy of the main attraction, Broken Bridges, starting at 8 p.m. The lively trio features Carleton Place sisters Fern and Willow Marwood on fiddle and banjo, with pal Graham Lindsey on guitar. The beer will be supplied by Calabogie Brewing Co. Tickets are $25, available online at

Gail Gavan at the microphone.
Ottawa Valley entertainer Gail Gavan is renowned for her St. Patrick’s Day shows. Photo by Bruno Schlumberger /Postmedia


The legendary St. Paddy’s day party at the Gavan Hotel in Quyon took place last weekend, but you can still see Gail Gavan, the singing-and-step-dancing matriarch of the festivities, in Kanata on the big day. She’ll be at D’Arcy McGee’s, 655 Terry Fox Dr., from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday for Shamrocks and Shenanigans, a party that has all the Irish blarney you can handle, plus singalongs, stepdancing and shamrock shooters. Entertainment will be provided by Gavan, along with Louis Schryer, Willy Rivet and dancers from Pauline Brown’s School of Stepdancing. Admission is first-come, first-served, and lineups are expected. 

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Learn the ancient martial art of bataireacht, or Irish stick fighting, at a workshop at the Jack Purcell Community Centre, near Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, on Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. It’s a blend of fencing, boxing and grappling, using a wooden stick. The style rose to prominence in the 1700s, when the British banned the Irish from possessing weapons, but interest waned over the centuries. An Ottawa school, called the Bataireacht and Historical Fencing Faction, has joined the effort to revive the sport with weekly classes in a safe, inclusive environment. Organizers recommend bringing a positive attitude and comfortable gym clothes, including indoor sneakers. A donation of $10 is suggested. 


The Irish Communities of Ottawa are celebrating their patron saint this weekend at Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, 310 St. Patrick St., from 10 a.m. to the wee hours both Saturday and Sunday. The activity is centred in St. Brigid’s Well, the basement pub of the former Catholic church, featuring bagpipers and trad musicians, plus dancers from Sue Fay Healy’s Irish dance studio. There’s a tasty Irish stew on the menu, but be forewarned that green beer is absolutely frowned upon. In fact, trying to add food colouring to a perfectly good beer may get you kicked out.

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