There are a few places in the world that are known for their nightlife, entertainment, and flair. Search 'top 10 party cities' and you will get a list that will likely include: Las Vegas, Cancun, New York, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, Barcelona, Goa, and Budapest. I'm sure lots of others pop up in your mind without the help of Google.
But what about St. John's, Newfoundland? St. John's is located on the east coast of Newfoundland, which actually puts it on the extreme east coast of North America, 7248 km away from Vancouver(or 'Vansterdam'), Canada's well known center of pot culture. Yeah, it's out there-and UP there-for most people reading this, but it is a place that every wayward party goer should, at the very least, know about. Hell, they get to celebrate New Years before everyone else on the continent each year.
Alright, I am 37, and truthfully, I don't party like I used to. But working in Newfoundland the last four years gave me the chance to fully absorb the heritage and appreciate what a really cool place it is to visit and have a good time.
Sure there's great sites, plenty of history and various tourist attractions, but 'The Rock's' main selling point is its culture. It is steeped in live music, moose steaks and rum, with a side order of battered cod tongues. For hundred's of years soldiers and sailors have swayed through the street's of St. John's, one of North America's oldest settlements, in search of drink, women, and food. Newfoundland's population consists primarily of descendants from Irish immigrants, who brought with them a love of drink, folk music, and pub life. A melting pot with all these ingredients could only produce a capital city rich in nightlife and entertainment, and the epicenter of the nightly festivities is George Street.
Nestled downtown, close to the waterfront, the little two block cobblestone street is said to be home to more bars and pubs per square foot than any other street in North America. In fact the only establishments are bars and pubs, with the exception of a few 24 hour restaurants, and they cater to all age groups and musical tastes, while constantly providing a festival atmosphere. You see, besides the few hours before noon, the street is only open to pedestrians who roam from club to club, and during peak hours, usually beginning around 11pm or midnight, it can become quite congested with intoxicated revelers merrily congregating or looking for the next bar stool or dance floor.
With the exception of Monday, I do mean nightly. Most of the clubs stay open till 3 am, and many people linger afterward in the street, often till sunrise in the summer months, hanging out, watching the buskers or hunting down pizza slices or sausages from the many vendors that line the street. 'Twonie Tuesday', a Canadian colloquialism referring to clubs that sell beer for 2 bucks a pop on Tuesday nights, gets the week under way on George, and it is busy right on through until Sunday. Live music can be found any night of the week, and it ranges from traditional Newfoundland/Irish folk music to alternative rock. There are a few clubs that play dance music for the younger crowd as well.
George is host to two major annual festivals: Halloween Mardi Gras and The George Street Festival. Unlike a lot of places in the world that hold their Mardi Gras in February, the George Street Halloween Mardi Gras is held the last weekend in October, and the party is all about Halloween with many people dressing up accordingly. Even more popular(maybe because it's in the summer!) is The George Street Festival which kicks off the last Thursday in July and ends the following Tuesday, the eve of the annual St. John's Regatta, held the first Wednesday of August. Our Lady Peace, Blue Rodeo and April Wine were among the musical headliners last year. During both festivals the street is blocked off to people under 19 and revelers are allowed to consume alcohol openly in the street. With thousands of people flocking to both festivals each year, they are both sure fire 'good times'.
So, while "I'm going to Newfoundland" may not sound as sexy as "I'm going to Jamaica", remember that if you ever do find yourself on 'The Rock' there is a hotbed of nightlife awaiting on the edge of the frigid North Atlantic.
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George Street, St. John's, Newfoundland
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