Whether or not you’ve got a drop of Irish blood in you, the Irish Society of the National Capital Region is giving Ottawa residents lots of reasons to celebrate this week.
Formerly Irish Week, March 9 to 17 marks the first annual Ottawa Irish Festival — stepped up from previous years’ celebrations, thanks to the contributions of more groups, said Irish Society NCR spokeswoman Jennifer O’Brien-Tomka.
“This year, it’s more of a festival atmosphere,” said O’Brien-Tomka.
“We’re able to offer a large variety of activities because so many groups came together to offer different events.”
While Mayor Larry O’Brien will proclaim the week Ottawa Irish Week at Library and Archives Canada Tuesday — an event followed by an evening of Irish music — other events include movie screenings at the Mayfair Theatre and a free public Irish lecture series by the University of Ottawa, Chair of Celtic Studies, Wednesday and Thursday.
The highlight of the festival is the 27th annual Ottawa St. Patrick’s parade Saturday.
The procession leaves city hall at 11 a.m. before heading down Laurier and Bank streets and arriving at Lansdowne Park, where the Grand Irish Party will be held.
Last year, more than 10,000 people attended the parade and even more are expected this year.
Although Irish roots are strong in the Ottawa area — Irish settlers were among those who came to Canada in the early to mid-1800s to help build the Rideau Canal — an Irish background isn’t required to enjoy the festival, O’Brien-Tomka said.