St. Patrick's Day Celebrations Around The World

by Dacy Knight

St. Patrick's Day is upon us, and just as everyone has their own way of celebrating (though many methods involve a little green and a big pour of Irish beer), each locale has its own way of throwing a party. From the Emerald Isle itself to places across the States to all the way Down Under, here's how St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in different cities.

For some destinations, the holiday is another excuse to party and gather in revelry at the local Irish pub (some have adopted the holiday as recently as the '90s). For others, St. Patrick's Day is a true culture festival and celebration of heritage and pride. Though cities choose different means of observing on March 17 or the weekend prior — with runs, bussed bar crawls, and dying the river green — there are some common characteristics to the celebrations. Attire that ranges from the traditional to the bizarre bring color to the streets while thousands gather to enjoy music, dancing, and an organized procession. But while a St. Patrick's Day parade is almost expected from any city serious about the holiday, even this celebration staple varies from place to place. In some cities you'll see elaborate floats decked out in green and orange, while in others you'll find a more traditional display of pipe bands suited up in traditional garb. Here's a look at 12 cities from around the world and how they throw a St. Paddy's Day celebration.

1. Dublin, Ireland


Travel back to the source for the ultimate St. Patrick's Day. Dublin's festival lasts four days, paying homage to Ireland's rich cultural history with music, street performances, pub events, and plenty of craic (good fun). Half a million revelers gather to see the vibrant St. Patrick's Day parade, which kicks off at noon in Parnell Square with a vibrant exhibition of floats, costumes, and performances referencing the country's history and Celtic folklore.

2. New York City

New York City's famous St. Patrick's Day parade attracts over two million spectators each year, making it the world's largest. First staged in 1762, the parade is a continuing tradition celebrating New York's Irish population. Instead of the expected spectacle of floats and balloons, you'll see a more regimented display of step dancers, bagpipes, cops, firefighters, and marchers in traditional kilts and sporrans. Outside of the parade, the celebration is decidedly less disciplined, with dedicated day drinking and city-wide pub crawls.

3. Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Montreal's St. Patrick's Day parade has been running consecutively since 1824. The procession, replete with floats, bands, and costumed marchers lasts three hours but the festivities last long after, with partiers gathering at downtown pubs.

4. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago goes all out for St. Patrick's Day, dying its river a bright kelly green using 40 pounds of EPA-approved dye. The festivities begin on Parade Day (always a Saturday), with thousands gathering to watch the Chicago River change color, followed by the cavalcade of bagpipers, dancers, and Clydesdales. The event evolves into a full-on street party and eventually finds itself in the city's Irish pubs.

5. Montserrat, West Indies

Montserrat earned its nickname as the "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean" because of its Irish population, who first fled there as indentured servants from neighboring islands to escape religious persecution in the 1600s. The island's shamrock passport stamps still pay tribute to its history. St. Patrick's Day festivities are an Afro-Irish event celebrated to a calypso beat and doubling as a holiday to commemorate an attempted slave revolt on the same day in 1768.

6. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is home to one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country and Massachusetts tops the list as the nation's most Irish state with nearly a quarter claiming Irish ancestry. South Boston, or "Southie," has hosted the city's parade (and rowdiest after-parties) since 1901. The wail of bagpipes can be heard calling marchers to the starting point.

7. London, England

While the politics can be a little tricky given England's historical relationship with Ireland, London throws quite the party for St. Patrick's Day. Locals and visitors alike throng the streets for the parade and live Irish music in Trafalgar Square. Just a stumble from the square is The Porterhouse, one of the world's largest Irish bars, which is guaranteed to be packed on the holiday, despite its sprawling space and 12 levels.

8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The City of Brotherly Love makes the most of St. Patrick's day though it comes but once a year. Philly's Erin Express, a city-wide bar crawl that provides free transportation to participants, is held on the two consecutive weekends surrounding the holiday. The weekend before the big day, "St. Practice Day" is celebrated.

9. Savannah, Georgia

The southern city hosts one of the largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the world. Its parade (which it claims to be the second-largest in the world) lasts three hours and the route makes its way through the Historic District, where fountains spurt emerald green water.

10. Tokyo, Japan


While it doesn't boast a significant Irish population, Tokyo still gets in on the celebration. Japan's capital began hosting a St. Patrick's Day parade in 1992 and it has increased in popularity since. The procession occurs in the Harajuku neighborhood, and local pubs discount their beer for continued revelry into the evening.

11. St. Louis, Missouri

Dog Town, the city's Irish neighborhood, is the epicenter of St. Patrick's Day celebrations in St. Louis. The district hosts The Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade which is said to be one of the best in the county. The weekend is packed with events, including an Irish dinner accompanied by formal entertainment and a five-mile parade run with more than 8,000 participants.

12. Auckland, New Zealand

Hannah Peters/Getty Images News/Getty Images

New Zealand's St. Patrick's Day festivities may not be the largest, but they are the first in the world each year. Irish immigration to Auckland first began in the 1840s and has continued since. In celebration of the holiday, the Sky Tower is lit green and the city gathers for a parade and a fleadh, a music and dance festival.

Images: Max Talbot-Minkin, Miguel Mendez, Tsaiproject, Rodolphe Breard, David Stanley, GreenMelinda, Derek Bridges, Garry Knight, Mobilis In Mobili, Rjones0856, Michael Righi, Brad Tutterow/Flickr