Can You Drink Alcohol in Public in Newfoundland?

In some parts of the world you’re able to freely crack open a beer and walk around with it anywhere you’d like. Since Newfoundland has such a prevalent alcohol consumption culture, you may be wondering if you can drink alcohol in public in Newfoundland.

The short answer is no, however, let’s first define what public drinking actually is!

When you hear the term public drinking, this does not mean anywhere in public view, it simply means outside of a private residence or licensed establishment. So, for example, drinking a beer while walking down the street or at a playground is against the law, but drinking a beer on a licensed bar patio or the front porch of your home is perfectly fine.

All this being said, as with many laws, there can be grey areas, misunderstandings, different interpretations, and enforcement can even vary. For instance, the law is much more likely to be enforced (and you’re much more likely to be caught) on a busy street in St. John’s as compared with a rural town with only a few hundred residents, though it’s still illegal in both cases under Newfoundland law.

This article shouldn’t be taken as legal advice, but let’s take a look at a few specific areas you may be questioning, and the local sentiments.

Campgrounds

So you’ve packed the tent and are wondering if you can enjoy an adult beverage during your camping trip at one of Newfoundland’s many beautiful campgrounds.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chelsey Lush (@chelseysamantha) on

The most important thing to remember here is always check rules at the specific campground you’re staying at. Policies may vary, plus there are other considerations to account for, like are you staying at a provincial park or a privately owned park?

Most of the time you’ll find that rules allow for alcohol consumption on campsites or other designated areas, but not in other areas of the park such as roads or playgrounds. Some parks even have designated camping sections which don’t even allow alcohol on the sites within.

Public Parks

Heading to Bowring or Bannerman park with your portable BBQ, a pack of hot dogs and a case of local beer?

Better leave that last item home!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chelsea Burton (@chelseaburton93) on

While these parks have picnic tables and are fine for a family BBQ, they are a public area and therefore drinking alcohol is not allowed. Though provinces like Ontario and Alberta have relaxed some public drinking laws, specifically for parks, no such thing has been done in Newfoundland.

If you were to quietly consume a beer with your BBQ and not cause any trouble, it’s unlikely you’d catch any trouble, but who wants to find out? While police and municipal officers are unlikely to be canvassing the area checking beverages, you’d definitely be taking a chance! Best to save the drinks for somewhere else.

Beaches

Ah, what better place to enjoy a cold beer than at a beach with the hot sand between your toes?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Upalonger (@upalonger) on

This is another one that will vary depending on where you are. A “private” beach area at a campground will have its own rules compared with a public area, so always check the rules pertaining to your exact location.

If you’re at a public beach far from town and not causing any trouble, the likelihood of being approaching by a law official is slim, so use your own judgement here. Technically it would still be against the law.

Festivals

There are a number of festivals and outdoor events that happen each year where alcohol consumption is allowed in licensed areas.

Some of the best are when George Street holds its Canada Day celebrations, George Street Festival, and Mardi Gras. During these times, the street is closed off and admission is charged at the gates. Once on the street, you have access to all of the bars with no additional cover charge, and are free to wander around the road with beverages from bar to bar.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Yves Alexander Paquette (@yvester_alexander) on

On a regular night this wouldn’t be allowed, but for these festivals the rules change since the street is open only to those who have paid admission.

The Royal St. John’s Regatta and Brigus Blueberry Festival are just two of many other outdoor events in Newfoundland where designated drinking areas are established. Patrons can purchase and consume alcohol within the set areas, but not leave and roam the rest of the festival grounds with their drinks.

In the event of outdoor concerts, those will vary. Some will allow purchased alcoholic beverages to be carried around throughout the site, while some will have designated areas.

 

There you have it, everything you need to know about public drinking in Newfoundland.

When visiting, be sure to carry your photo ID around. Newfoundland’s legal drinking age is 19, but some bars are very strict with ID checking and could deny you entry without proper confirmation of your age!

And one more thing, as with most places, drinking and driving any motorized vehicle is strictly forbidden and punishable by law. This includes, but is not limited to cars, boats, and ATVs. So plan ahead!