Every year on March 17th in cities across the globe, millions of people donning various shades of green gather to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day.
You can find raucous celebrations of Irish culture in every corner of the globe, including Tokyo, Moscow, Buenos Aires, and sometimes even on the International Space Station, but there are a few cities that take their parades, pubs, and Paddy’s Day pride to whole new levels.
If you’re looking for the ideal city to indulge in a hearty pint of Guinness while digging into some freshly baked Irish soda bread, read on.
We’ll start with proudest, most quintessential city of them all, Dublin. It’s a no-brainer that this Irish capital city is the destination for anybody looking for an authentic St. Paddy’s Day celebration. This also means it can be challenging to know the best events and pubs to go, but that’s where we’ve got you covered. Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival will run events like Greening the City, The Guinness Supper Club, and numerous concerts March 14-18, with its main event — the St. Patrick's Festival Parade — taking place on Sunday, March 17. You’re guaranteed festive, good times no matter which event you choose, and we can promise you an endlessly energetic and uniquely unforgettable experience if you attend the parade. If parades aren’t your cup of tea (or shall we say, pint of Guinness), you’ll be spoiled for choice as virtually every pub in the country will have some sort of celebration. Here are our top three pub picks:
- The International Pub, 23 Wicklow St: Come here for traditional music all day long.
- Whelans, Wexford St: For something a bit more modern, come here to listen to the best of Irish talent in rock and indie music.
- The Old Storehouse, 3 Crown Alley: Come here for a winning combination of traditional music and dancing all day.
It’s important to note that Dublin will essentially be in lockdown on the 17th. Public transport will stop between 12-3 p.m., and walking from one side of the city to the other will be difficult as thousands line the street for the parade. With this in mind, it’s important to plan ahead to ensure you’re where you want to be and avoid any disappointment.
Our next city takes us across the pond to the Big Apple. New York City loves their St. Paddy’s Day celebrations almost as much as Dublin, which means the city goes all out. Because March 17th falls on a Sunday this year, the 257th Annual NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place on Saturday, March 16th, starting at 11 a.m at 44th Street and 5th Avenue, and ending at 79th Street and 5th Avenue at about 5 p.m. Fun fact: NYC's parade claims to be oldest and largest St. Paddy's Day parade in the world, dating back to 1762. Other, smaller parades are held in Irish communities around NYC on the weekends before and after the holiday, including Bay Ridge in Brooklyn and Woodlawn in the Bronx. These smaller parades are generally more family friendly than the 5th Avenue one. For a historic Irish pub, head to McSorley's Old Ale House at 15 E 7th Street in the East Village, for a pint in New York City’s oldest continuously operated saloon. For a hearty, traditional full Irish breakfast to get your day started off right, make your way to our NYC manager’s favorite spot, Molly's, at 287 3rd Avenue in Gramercy Park.
Boston is the most Irish American city, which means you know makes it one of the top St. Paddy’s Day destinations in the states. One of the largest St. Paddy’s Day parades anywhere, and the pinnacle of Boston’s St. Paddy’s revelry, Boston’s [St. Patrick’s Day Parade]http://southbostonparade.org/) runs through South Boston (or “Southie”, as it’s referred to by locals), and will take place on Sunday, March 17th. Another iconic St. Patrick’s Day Boston tradition is the annual Dropkick Murphys House of Blues concert. A local Celtic punk band, the Dropkick Murphys make a tradition of performing at Boston’s House of Blues, near Fenway Park, every St. Paddy’s Day. It doesn’t get more Boston Irish than this. For more traditional Irish music, don’t miss the St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn concert at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. Hosted by Brian O’Donovan, whose WGBH program, A Celtic Sojourn, has been an antique fixture on the Boston airwaves. You won’t find better Irish music this side of the Atlantic. If you’re looking for some traditional Irish food (and aren’t we all?), fuel up at J.J. Foley’s, a South End institutiion since 1909. Not as old, but quite popular and authentic, is the Black Rose (Roisin Dubh in Gaelic), located in the historic Faneuil Hall area. For something completely inauthentic, but very very popular and always a fun evening, try Ned Devine’s on the second floor of Quincy Market. Somewhere in between a bar and a nightclub, they’ll be sure to have live music and dancing well into the night.
For more than 50 years, the Windy City dyes its winding river green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and we don’t think it gets more festive than that. There are several ways to celebrate, and we recommend one Chicago’s favorites, attending the dyeing of the river. This year it’ll take place at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 16th. For prime viewing spots and more info, click here. Is it really a St. Paddy’s Day celebration without a parade? (No.) Chicago’s St. Patrick's Day Parade always takes place the Saturday before St. Paddy’s, which means this year it’s happening on Saturday the 16th. There are also number of bars in the South Loop that will be holding St. Paddy’s Day events. For a more authentic Irish experience, we recommend: Kitty O'Sheas, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eater, and Emerald Loop Bar & Grill.
Last but not least: London. With several days of events, including a film festival and Irish walking tours, the British capital sets the bar for St. Paddy’s Day celebrations.
Beginning at Green Park and passing by some of London’s most iconic landmarks on its way to its final destination in Trafalgar Square, the London St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place on March 17th at noon.
From 12-6 p.m., Trafalgar Square transforms into the St. Patrick’s Day Festival, complete with ceilidh dancing, Irish arts, live music, family-friendly activities, and an abundance of delicious food. Bonus: entry is free!
If pints in a pub is more your style, we recommend The Flying Horse in Finsbury Park. This traditional pub celebrates from Friday-Sunday, with drink specials, all Six Nations games shown live, and live music.
For the classic Irish pub in London, make your way to The Auld Shillelagh in Stoke Newington for what many consider to be the best pint of Guinness in North London. Banter and beer in a proper Irish pub, what more could you ask for?