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Top 10 Reasons Why St. Patrick’s Day in Newfoundland Is the Best


Are you excited for St. Patrick’s Day again? This year it falls on Sunday, March 17, 2024. As usual, in Newfoundland, St. Patricks Day is a public holiday, so Monday March 18, 2024 will also be a public holiday. It’s actually the only place outside Ireland that officially recognizes St. Patrick’s Day as an official Holiday.

It’s not out of the norm for folks to celebrate st Patrick’s Day by drinking some beer. Some even drink green beer. Did you know, however, St. Patrick’s Day in Newfoundland is about much more than alcohol? 

1. St. Patrick’s Day is an event celebrated worldwide.

Every year in March you’ll find expats all over the globe crowding to Irish pubs and restaurants. St. John’s and Newfoundland in general is no exception. Colleges and universities in most countries make St. Patrick’s day an excuse for excessive drinking and generalized debauchery, but there is only one place outside of Ireland which officially recognizes St. Patrick’s day as a public holiday, and that place is Newfoundland.

No spot outside of Ireland takes St. Patrick’s Day as seriously as Newfoundland – well … maybe Boston (they’re pretty hardcore as well). 

2. Closer to Ireland

If you’re in North America and want to get close to Ireland, the closest spot is in Newfoundland. St. John’s Harbour is the closest North American port to Ireland and Cape Spear is the closest point of land, which is just a short drive from St. John’s Harbour.

Newfoundland folklore legends have many stories of sailors getting lost at sea only to be washed up on the shamrock covered shores of Ireland. 

Newfoundland Folklore Legend Almost two centuries ago, there were two brothers fishing off the shores of St. John’s when the fog rolled in and their ship was subsequently lost. About a week later, the brothers found themselves off the west coast of Ireland where they were welcomed by a small fishing community. Because it was the fall of the year, the brothers spent the winter in Ireland repairing their boat with the help of the Irish locals. The following spring, with their boat was all fixed up, the brothers set sail for Newfoundland determined to reunite with the families they had left behind. When they arrived back in St. John’s, nobody would believe it was them since it was assumed the two brothers had perished at sea. Their family in St. John’s had even held a funeral for them and erected gravestones at the Quidi Vidi cemetery.

What a coming home party they must have had when the two brothers returned to their friends and families”.

3. In Newfoundland, St. Patrick’s Day is a family event and not just about drinking.

Most people are wearing green, restaurants have special menus, and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are everywhere. In Newfoundland, St. Patrick’s Day is bigger than the Easter Bunny and more popular than Black Friday.

If you’re looking for what to do on St. Patrick’s Day near St. John’s outside of of going to a bar, the Stargazing Hot Tubs at Whale House and the East Coast Trail adjacent to Mobile Bay (Tinkers Point Path) are fun ways to take in the weekend with outstanding comfort and style. St. Patrick’s Day weekend often brings sunny skies and longer days, a great time to step out of hibernation mode and celebrate some outdoors and sunshine. 

Taking the ferry to Newfoundland from Nova Scotia during the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend?

We often hear stories from travellers who took the ferry to Newfoundland during St. Patrick’s Day and the fond memories they have of that Newfoundland Ferry Crossing. If you need to figure out how to get to Newfoundland and what is the best ferry to take from Nova Scotia you can use our Newfoundland ferry selection tips and tricks to help you choose the best crossing and sailing to Newfoundland.

Often Marine Atlantic will have musicians on board, and if they don’t, locals will bring out their own instruments and make their own music. It’s a special time, and if the journey gets extended due to inclement weather, the party will extend with it.

During March, the Marine Atlantic Ferry to Newfoundland is primarily frequented by locals who are often returning to Newfoundland after being away. For them, it’s always a special feeling to come home to Newfoundland, and if you’re doing it on a ferry boat on St. Patrick’s Day surrounded by neighbours and friends sharing the same sentiment, it leads to a special sort of vibe.

4. Talk the Talk

Often times when people from Newfoundland travel internationally they’re mistaken for being Irish because of the way they speak. Since many parts of Newfoundland were originally settled by people from Ireland, many residents in Newfoundland are direct descendants of Irish immigrants, retaining much of the same dialect and accent.

Many consider Newfoundland to be the most Irish place in the world next to Ireland. We can’t really argue with that. Several of our neighbours are often mistaken for Irish when they travel to Ireland.

5. The 2nd Emerald Isle

In Newfoundland, nothing escapes St. Patrick’s Day decorations. The Capital City of St. John’s is covered in Irish green and national historic sites get a special St. Patrick’s day makeover. 

Cabot tower awash in Green to celebrate it’s Irish Heritage

6. Sociable

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is about much more than drinking, but if you want to go out for a few sociable beverages on St. Patrick’s Day, there is no better place in North America to do so than in St. John’s. George Street alone has a large collection or Irish Pubs and all of Downtown St. John’s is in on the action complete with St. Patrick’s Day live bands, Irish food, green beer, and more.

PRO TIP:  If you’re planning on drinking in Downtown St. John’s during St. Patrick’s Day evening, be sure to take your time and pace yourself. Green beer is everywhere, but if the novelty of green been has worn off, try sipping on a lower alcohol beer like Quidi Vidi Iceberg or even substitute a few glasses of water for beers in the middle of your evening. The rule “less is more” can be applied to many situations and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. 

Pro Tip for drinking on St. Patrick's Day in Newfoundland
Pro Tip: When someone yells “Sociable” everyone in the room is suppose to drink *No it’s doesn’t need to be an alcoholic drink*

7. Be the first

Because of their time zone, Newfoundland is the first spot in North America to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, just a few hours after it’s officially St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. Every year, St. John’s is the first capital city in North America to officially kick off St. Patrick’s Day.

The Famous O’Reilly’s Pub … people line up for HOURS to get in on March 17th

8. Ski

One of the best spring skiing weekends in Newfoundland takes place on St. Patrick’s Day weekend at Marble Mountain near Corner Brook. Spring skiing in Western Newfoundland is always superb, but spring skiing at Marble Mountain on St. Patrick’s Day weekend is special.

There is always a great vibe at the ski hill, the conditions are usually great, and the lodge often has Irish bands along with beer and food at the ski lodge as an apres ski event. 

9. Sheila’s Brush.

As usual, this year we got another giant snow storm just before St. Patrick’s Day. Many of us spent the better part of this week shoveling over a meter of snow. In Newfoundland, that’s normal for around St. Patrick’s Day and totally in line with Shelia’s Brush. According to the legend, Sheila’s Brush is the last big winter storm that takes place on or around St. Patrick’s Day.

You can chalk it up to folklore or farmers almanac alchemy, but every year without failure mother nature brings Newfoundland one last big winter storm in or around St. Patrick’s Day. What’s great about Sheila’s Brush (besides being a great snow day) is that after this storm, the weather turns to spring. In Newfoundland, St. Patrick’s day signifies the end of winter and the beginning of spring.

10. Go Green

Besides Irish green, Newfoundland, and Canada as a whole, has become famous for another green. Recreational cannabis became legal across Canada in October 2018, and Newfoundland became the first place in Canada to legally sell a joint of Canadian cannabis.

This 2024 St. Patrick’s Day, if you choose to forgo green beer for the other type of green stuff, or you skip all things green entirely, we won’t fault you for it or anything. We just want you to be happy. 

4 Responses

  1. I am 83 and the is the first time I learned about this custom in Nfld. I wish that it wasn’t associated with drinking as it is in most provinces. Way to go Newfies !

    1. Yeah, totally! I think the Irish are another group that are painted with a wide brush. There’s a lot of unfair generalizations and cultural assumptions that we could all do without, and be so much better of.

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Whale House Guest House offers luxury boutique private suites with outdoor hot tubs overlooking humpback whale feeding grounds. Located next to the east coast trail in the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve, just 30 min from downtown St. John’s.

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