Where to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day
At its core, St. Patrick’s Day is about celebrating the Irish spirit. Whether you want a sacred or secular celebration, there are cities around the world to show your pride on March 17.
In Boston, where Irish-Americans are about 20 percent of the population, as many as 1 million people gather for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade—one of the largest in the country.
St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival, but Montserrat—a petite island in the British West Indies—is the only country other than Ireland where the day is an official public holiday. The island’s large Irish population helped it earn the nickname, “The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean.”
Dublin, of course, hosts an impressive celebration, but travelers needn’t go to Ireland to experience a serious St. Patrick’s Day party. Here are more cities around the globe boasting plenty of Irish pride.
According to Niche, St. Patrick’s Day is best celebrated in Pittsburgh, where nearly 14 percent of the population identifies as Irish. Some 20,000 participants participate in the annual parade, and the bars here are spot-on.
Even in the Pacific, travelers can find Irish celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day. In Sydney, there will be a parade and gathering at The Rocks, one of the first areas where the Irish settled in Australia.
Buffalo, New York
With one of the nation's largest parades, Buffalo, New York, is one of the wildest places to party for St. Patrick’s Day. From a Shamrock Run and corned beef dinners to Irish dancers and bagpipers, festivities start days before the holiday. And just half an hour north, Niagara Falls illuminated green is a sight to see.
This Canadian city has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a parade since 1824. Floats, marching bands, bagpipes, and a giant Saint Patrick himself are in attendance for the affair.
One of the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day festivals happens in this charming southern city. Water fountains spout green, the Irish dancers take to the stage at the heritage festival, there’s a 5K Shamrock Run, and a quintessential bar crawl.
With the most parties and festivals per capita, and a river that runs green for the occasion, it’s easy to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the Windy City. If Guinness isn’t your thing, grab a bottle of local Green River Soda instead.
Don’t come to the literal capital of St. Patrick’s Day fun if you want to don a faux orange beard and drink green booze. Traditions here are far more, well traditional. Expect lots of live Irish music and traditional feasts in pubs.
St. Louis, Missouri
Three key events take place in St. Louis for St. Patrick’s Day: a formal Irish dinner at the Hilton St. Louis, a 5-mile run through downtown, and the iconic parade. Marching bands, floats, and nearly 250,000 spectators make it one of the largest events in the city. And, as calculated by WalletHub, it gets top marks for access to bars.
Irish expats can be found sipping a pint at one of the city’s many Irish pubs, or sporting shamrocks in the annual parade and festival at Trafalgar Square. History buffs might prefer checking out one of the city’s history trails or catching an Irish film screening.
New York City, New York
Every year since 1762, New York City has hosted one of the largest celebrations on Earth. After the parade, head to McSorley’s, the city’s oldest pub, for a frothy pint of Guinness.
Once a haven for Irish Catholics, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are now a healthy mix of Irish and African Caribbean heritage. Drink green Heineken or check out a calypso competition during the weeklong affair. Visitors who make the trip will be treated with a shamrock passport stamp.
In addition to the massive St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which stretches for two miles across South Boston, there are plenty of other ways to get in touch with your Irish side. Gourmet Gaelic food crops up in the city’s hotels and restaurants, and the Celtic punk rock group, the Dropkick Murphys, return home to play concerts. It ranks No. 1 in the country, according to WalletHub, because of its annual traditions, safety, and accessibility.