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CelticFest Vancouver a great way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day

The St. Patricks’s Day parade will feature dancers, music and merriment.

Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Call it the luck of the Irish.

For last year's St. Patrick's Day parade, the weather was nippy but nice; then just 15 minutes after the last marching drums were silenced and the crowd drifted away, hail began beating down.

CelticFest Vancouver executive director Ian McAteer hopes the clouds will part once again for this weekend's outdoor festivities, which include free Celtic concerts, Scottish dancers, swordplay demos, music workshops, an outdoor market, a kids' Celtic corner and the St. Paddy's Day parade – which features more than 2,500 participants and is expected to draw more than 200,000 onlookers.

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CelticFest also features indoor shows, including an Atlantic-spanning concert by Cape Breton's Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac along with Scottish songstress Maeve Mackinnon.

On Friday night, Celtic rockers The Town Pants will get Venue jumping; and on Saturday, the CelticFest Ceilidh brings together fast-rising Victoria duo Qristina and Quinn Bachand, powerhouse fiddler, singer and step dancer Mairi Rankin, accordion master Allan Dionne and host Tim Readman.

And while 14 per cent of Vancouverites claim Irish descent, and their numbers are growing(Mr. McAteer says this year's allocation of Canadian visas for Irish aged 18-35 ran out in four days), Celtic culture draws people from a range of backgrounds and ages.

"I think the oldest person I met last year was 97, and the youngest was about three days old," says Mr. McAteer, who came to Canada with his wife in 2010.

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