Originating as a Catholic holiday, St. Patrick’s Day has long been regarded as the party of the year in cities proud of Irish heritage. Ireland hardly holds a monopoly on the holiday, however: St. Patrick’s Day celebrations can be found worldwide. Wherever you’re roaming, a parade, festival, or at least a leprechaun is sure to be featured on March 17th. Below are the top St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in five cities in which you can raise your pint of Guinness (many of which are considered green cities all year round!).
Top St. Patrick’s Day Spots
1. Chicago, IL
Surprised? The most exciting day-of celebration is not found in Dublin, Ireland, or even Boston, MA (those both come close). Chicago’s TWO huge St. Patrick’s Day parades aren’t to be missed. Chicago’s downtown St. Patrick’s Day celebration begins when the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers dye the Chicago River green. If St. Pat’s Day doesn’t fall on a Saturday, the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade is always the Saturday before. The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade goes down Columbus Drive and is filled with traditional pipe bands, giant floats, and Irish dancers. Of course, the party continues all night in Chicago’s many bars and nightclubs.
Chicago’s second St. Pat’s Parade is held on the south side. The South Side Irish Parade is another fun family event and has become another tradition since it had been reestablished in 1979.
2. Boston, MA
Yes, the party is bigger in Boston than in Dublin, with festivities beginning over a week before the holiday. Almost one million visitors descend upon Boston annually for St. Patrick’s Day, ready to listen to Irish bands and performers, taste food and drink specialities at the many Irish restaurants and pubs, or be among the over 600,000 spectators lining the streets for the day-of parade. Stay in town after the crowds depart to experience all the many attractions and history that Boston has to offer.
3. Dublin, Ireland
Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Festival runs generally around March 16-19th each year, and includes a surprising amount of family and kid-oriented programming, not the least of which is a science show by Dublin City of Science and a treasure hunt. The highlights, however, include the “city at play” fun fairs in the streets and the annual Festival Parade.
4. Sydney, Australia
Another top St. Patrick’s Day spot is in Sydney. 25% of Australia’s population descends from Ireland and Irish heritage is still alive and well in the capital city. The Sydney St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Family Day (the only one of its size funded totally by the local Irish community) begins with dancing on George Street, followed by the traditional parade and activities for families in Hyde Park. Of course, adults continue celebrating in exuberant Aussie style throughout the evening.
5. London, UK
The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in London is not to be missed. Like the above cities, festivities will begin early, with the city in party-mode most of the week. Visitors will find celebrity MCs, Irish phrase lessons, and dance instruction throughout London.
Bonus pick: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
If you’re looking for a unique St. Patrick’s Day pick, check out the festivities in Dubai, held annually at the city’s famed McGettigan’s Pub.
Here are lots of ways to drink green wherever you are.
There’s more to celebrating St. Pat’s Day than drinking green beer. With these picks for top St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, you will have a great time whether you are Irish or not. Will you be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in any of the above cities? Have another favorite pick? Do tell! (And while you’re at it, share the location of that famed pot of gold!) Photo credit: Paul R. Alexander