Vancouver CelticFest is a Celtic festival over St. Patrick’s Day week that usually includes concerts, whisky tastings, live music and street parties.
For information about other St. Patrick’s Day-related events in the Lower Mainland, click Vancouver on St. Patrick’s Day.
Most CelticFest events in 2020 were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. The festival is happening in 2021 although in a virtual format. For comparison, see below for information about what was scheduled for 2020.
RESTRICTIONS ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY LIQUOR SALES
Similar to what it did on New Year’s Eve last year, the BC Government banned the sale of alcohol after 8:00 pm in liquor stores, bars and restaurants on March 17th across the province. You could still buy alcoholic beverages before that time and throughout the day on other dates, but not on St. Patrick’s Day itself. This was done to limit large gatherings and to prevent people from getting too festive while COVID-19 continued to be a problem.
CelticFest St. Patrick’s Celebrations
Below are descriptions of CelticFest from 2021, 2020 and previous years. In 2021 it was a virtual event and in 2020 everything was cancelled because of COVID-19.
CelticFest in 2021
In 2021 CelticFest events included a virtual cocktail class, live online concert, Irish music, a virtual game show and other activities. See the CelticFest Vancouver website for the most up to date details as new events were continually being announced.
- Friday, March 12th, 2021 – a virtual whiskey cocktail class at 7:30 pm. Participants received a custom Jameson whiskey kit delivered to their doors. The cost was $85 and to participate you had to be at least 19 years of age.
- Saturday, March 13th, 2021 – a virtual concert featuring the Irish band Fire and Water, YouTube’s Allie Sherlock and local BC bands Blackthorn and The Fight Outside. The concert started at 7:30 pm.
- Sunday, March 14th, 2021 – a special kid-friendly Family Day event with classes focusing on the Irish language, music, stories and art. Events started at 12:00 am.
- Tuesday, March 16th, 2021 – an online Kick and Puc Fada competition. Teams at the competition included The Gaelic Football, Camogie and Hurling clubs of Vancouver. Streaming started at 12:00 am.
- Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 – a traditional Irish music concert started at 7:00 pm with some of Vancouver’s best Irish musicians. This last year the Trad Session was an online event.
- Friday, March 19th, 2021 – a virtual game show started at 7:30 pm.
- Saturday, March 20th, 2021 – Craic Agus Ceol with music, comedy and other entertainment. Started at 7:00 pm.
CelticFest in 2020
The following festival events were going to happen in the 2020 CelticFest, until everything got cancelled due to COVID-19.
- Sunday, March 8th, 2020 – accordionist and fiddler Sharon Shannon was going to perform at the Rogue Folk Club at Mel Lehan Hall in Vancouver. Tickets cost $45.
- Friday, March 13th, 2020 – CelticFest Vancouver Ceilidh was going to take place at the Hellenic Community Centre in Vancouver. Performers at the event in a typical year include the Eire Born Irish Dance Company, BC Regiment Irish Pipes & Drums and the band Blackthorn. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and students (plus online fees).
- Saturday, March 14th, 2020 – the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir was going to perform at Christ Church Cathedral at 690 Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. Tickets cost $15 for students, $32 for regular adult tickets and $40 for premium seats.
- Sunday, March 15th, 2020
- The St. Patrick’s Day Family Event would have taken place in the plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Activities were going to include live entertainment, music, dancing, child-friendly activities and food vendors.
- The Irish band Dervish was going to perform at the Kay Meek Arts Centre in West Vancouver. Tickets cost $49 for adults, $47 for seniors and $29 for students.
- Sunday, March 22nd, 2020 – the Irish band Altan was going to perform at the Rogue Folk Club at Mel Lehan Hall at St. James Community Square in Vancouver. Tickets cost $45.
- Friday, March 27th, 2020 – the Celtic Tenors and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra would have performed at the Orpheum Theatre. Tickets cost between about $16 and $95 (plus fees).
- Saturday, March 28th, 2020 – the Celtic Tenors and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra were going to perform for a second night at the Orpheum Theatre. Tickets cost between about $16 and $95 (plus fees).
CelticFest in the Past
Although running over a longer period of time than in years prior to 2018, in 2019 CelticFest was again a scaled-back version of what it had been in previous years, and even more scaled-back from what it was in earlier years when it included the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
A couple of years ago CelticFest had about one concert in late February and then four other music-related events in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.
In 2019 there was an Irish-themed play running from February 22nd until March 16th, an “Irish in Vancouver’s Got TALENT” event on February 23rd, and the annual Ceilidh event on March 16th. Similar to previous years, there were also two concerts by the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir on the St. Patrick’s Day weekend (so March 16th and 17th in 2019).
Vancouver’s Celtic Village (in 2017)
In past years, along with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the main event during CelticFest was the Celtic Village (which hasn’t taken place since 2017).
In years prior to 2017 the Celtic Village took place between Robson Street and Nelson along Granville Street. In 2017, however, it took place at Robson Square and in the Vancouver Art Gallery’s South Plaza at Robson Street and Howe.
At the Celtic Village in past years there was live music, dancing, food vendors and all sorts of street market stalls and things to see. It was also free (unless you arrived after 7 pm in which case there was a $10 fee).
For more information on the weekend event in past years, click Celtic Village.
For more information about the St. Patrick’s Weekend street party from a few years ago at Robson Square, click Celtic Village 2017.
For more ideas on what to do with the family in mid-March, check out Top Free Spring Things to Do with Children.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver March Calendar
- Spring Break in the Lower Mainland
- Vancouver Festivals and Events
- History and Culture in Vancouver
- Lower Mainland Restaurants
- Vancouver Bars and Nightclubs