The longest-running Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Canada occurs each year in Montreal. The parades have been held in continuity since 1824; however, St. Patrick’s Day itself has been celebrated in Montreal as far back as 1759 by the Irish soldiers of the Montreal Garrison, following the British conquest of New France.
In Canada, Saint Patrick’s Day is an official holiday only in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Some groups, notably Guinness, have lobbied to make Saint Patrick’s Day a federal (national) holiday.
Great Britain (UK)
During St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Trafalgar Sq, London England, the late Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the Queen Mother) used to present bowls of shamrock flown over from Ireland to members of the Irish Guards, a regiment in the British Army consisting primarily of Irishmen from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In 2002, London mayor Ken Livingstone organized an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade which takes place on weekends around the 17th, usually in Trafalgar Square.
Another tradition is the consumption of large amounts of Guinness in the hope of getting a “Guinness Hat,” a hat that pubs give away after a certain amount of the beverage has been consumed. The horse racing at the Cheltenham Festival attracts large numbers of Irish people, both residents of Britain and many who travel from Ireland, and this usually coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day.
The largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the UK is held in Birmingham over a two mile route through the city centre. The organizers describe it as the third biggest parade in the world after Dublin and New York. Other Saint Patrick’s Day parades take place around the country including in London where the largest minority community is Irish. The Lanarkshire town of Coatbridge where the majority of the town’s population is of Irish descent also has a day of celebration and parades in the town centre.
Munich is the only German city holding a St. Patrick’s Day parade, owing it to the considerably large Irish community. The parade is organized by the German-Irish Society of Bavaria and has been held every year since 1996. Meanwhile it has evolved into the largest in continental Europe and features not only Irish/Scotch/English, but also German clubs and societies. Following the 2 km-parade, which usually takes place the Sunday preceding March 17th. It is an open air party with live music and dance performances.
On 15th March 1992, thousands of Muscovites lined the Novy Arbat to witness the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Russian capital’s history. Yuri Luzhkov – the then and current Mayor of Moscow – and Aer Rianta Chief Executive Derek Keogh were on the reviewing stand as a police escort led the way for – rather bizarrely -Russian marching bands, Cossack horsemen, and fifteen floats representing many Russian companies. The parade, which was the brainchild of Derek Keogh, was a big success, and ensured a repeat performance the following year.
Each year the floats have become more numerous and sophisticated and the range of international and Russian participants and sponsors more wide-ranging such as Pepsi and Guinness. The local Irish bars of Moscow contribute their own floats and Muscovites reveal their own homegrown Irish Wolfhounds, which are nearly as big as the floats themselves.
The Moscow parade continued to be an annual event until 1998. After a three year lapse The St Patrick’s Society of Russia managed to re-establish the St Patrick’s Day parade with the co-operation of the Moscow City Government, The Moscow police, various government bodies, The Irish Embassy and the Irish Community in Moscow.
St Patrick’s Day in Japan was first organized by The Irish Network Japan starting in 1992. There are now multiple parades across the country celebrating St. Patrick and Irish Heritage.