Whether you’re Irish or Irish at heart, St Patrick’s Day is an international festival, bringing everyone together with a whole lot of drinking, dancing and green outfits!
St Patrick’s Day or St Paddy’s Day as it’s more colloquially known, is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on March 17. Traditionally, St Patrick’s Day marks a celebration of the life of St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint who brought Christianity to the Emerald Isle – but in more recent years, it’s become famed for drinking, parades, merriment… and a whole lot of Guinness. While 5.5 million pints of Guinness are consumed daily around the world, on St Patrick’s Day that number rises to 13 million pints, that’s a whole lotta drinkin! This year St Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday, so grab something green and get ready to take part in one of the most exciting world celebrations. But where in the world celebrates St Patrick’s Day in style? Let’s take a look…
Dublin – something for everyone
Dublin is Ireland’s largest city, famed for their iconic St Patrick’s Day celebrations! Although most cities in Ireland put on raucous celebrations on 17 March, Dublin is fun for all, offering alternative ways to celebrate with the family, as opposed to with beer. Celebrations kick off with the main parade, which stretches over 2.5km from Parnell Square to St Patrick’s Cathedral, featuring; bands, fancy dress, performers and giant puppets, ideal for entertaining the kids. When you’re in the mood to drink, head over to the Temple Bar area where you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of drink deals, music, events and Guinness hats. If you get the chance, visit the Guinness brewery close by for a spot of tasting. St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin span over four days from March 14 to 18 – guaranteed to be big, loud and most importantly, fun!
Downpatrick, County Down – for those who love history
Downpatrick, County Down is one of Ireland’s most ancient and historic towns and plays a key part in the history of St Patrick. This is the place where St Patrick is rumoured to be buried, a slice of information that the people of Downpatrick are proud of and keen to share. Located in Northern Ireland, just southeast of Belfast, Downpatrick holds the biggest St Patrick’s Day celebrations outside of Dublin. The traditional Cross-Community Carnival Parade is at the heart of the celebrations, giving everyone an excuse to take to the streets for some light-hearted festive fun. If you want to immerse yourself in history and celebrations, the best way to get to Downpatrick is to fly to Belfast with Easyjet. From there, it’s a 40-minute drive down the A7 motorway.
Cork – for those looking to drink
Cork is Ireland’s second largest city and ‘other capital city’ according to many who hail from the county – but when it comes to St Patrick’s Day, the rivalry between Dublin and Cork can be intense. Celebrations in Cork are boisterous with people filling the pubs to grab a pint of Guinness; however, Cork’s claim to fame when it comes to St Patrick’s Day celebrations is that it holds the title for the shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world: This takes place in Dripsey, Cork, where the parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village’s two pubs. Dripsey is only a half-hour drive from Cork city centre so it might be worth heading there. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, the city has its own parade that runs from the South Mall to the Grand Parade, along St. Patrick’s Street, finishing at Merchant’s Quay. It also holds a festival that incorporates a food and crafts market, music, street performers and children’s workshops, ideal for all the family.
Other world cities that celebrate St Patrick’s Day
New York, USA
New York hosts the biggest St Patrick’s Day Celebration in the world, thanks to their massive Irish heritage. In the state of New York, there are seven times as many irish Americans as there are Irish people living in Ireland! Each year, the huge parade attracts two million spectators since it first began in 1762. The parade route goes up Fifth Avenue beginning at East 44th Street and ending at East 79th Street, starting at 11 am precisely each year.
Chicago hosts one of the most iconic St Patrick’s Day celebrations – each year, the Chicago River is dyed green to celebrate on March 17. This has been a tradition since 1962, and the dye isn’t harmful to the environment! Each year, 400,000 spectators gather to see the river turn green, while a parade always takes place on the Saturday closest to the day. Similar to the celebrations held in Chicago, the fountain on the south lawn of the White House in Washington DC has been dyed green on St Patrick’s Day during the time Barack Obama served as President.
Since growing into a multi-cultural festival, London has began a tradition of parades to celebrate the city’s deep Irish roots. More than 150,000 people turn out for the event, which sees energetic and vibrant displays being performed on Trafalgar Square.