We may be far from the Cliffs of Moher, but that’s never stopped Americans from celebrating the spirit of the Irish come March 17. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other worldwide festival. While the annual holiday doesn’t exactly resemble the original Christian feast days of the 17th century, there is still plenty of revelry taking place across the States that will make anyone feel Irish for a day. Sláinte!
New York, New York
To say New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is an important tradition would be an understatement. Thousands of spectators have been watching the annual event since it began in 1762 – that’s 259 parades ago. The parade marches down 5th Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street on Tuesday, March 17. While the parade doesn’t begin until 11 a.m., we advise getting there early to snag a prime viewing spot.
It may be hard to believe, but a line starts forming at McSorley’s Old Ale House before 8 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, the only day of the year its doors open with the sunrise. This 160-year-old East Village institution is the oldest Irish watering hole in the city, and it only serves up its own two signature brews: a dark and a light ale.
If you’d prefer to skip the beer and whiskey, check out the 9th annual Sober St. Patrick’s Day at St. Patrick’s Youth Center. Expect world-class traditional Irish singers, dancers, and musicians, along with snacks, a light dinner, and non-alcoholic beverages. The festivities will take place from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the 17th.
Head to Southie – aka South Boston – on Sunday, March 15, to see the St. Patrick’s Day/Evacuation Day Parade. Expect all the components of a grand parade, including decorative floats, lively marching bands, traditional Irish dancers and musicians (think bagpipers galore), and yes, crowds. With that in mind, arrive well before the 1 p.m. kick-off time. The parade route begins at the Broadway T station (Red Line) and ends in Andrew Square. Tip: Anywhere along Broadway is a good place to position yourself.
Instead of eating calories at Sunday brunch, why not burn a few at the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race instead? The 5k run is a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, making it extra special. The race begins at 11 a.m. at the Edgerley Family South Boston Boys & Girls Club location.
If you’d rather walk than run, take a self-guided stroll on Boston’s Irish Heritage Trail. The three-mile stretch takes you through the downtown, North End, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay neighborhoods. You’ll discover the rich history behind the famous Irish artists, politicians, war heroes, and matriarchs that epitomize the Boston Irish.
You can’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago without seeing the river go from a dark winter grey to a vibrant emerald green. Dating back over half a century, the Chicago river dyeing is one of the most famous St. Patrick’s Day traditions in the world. Thousands of people start gathering early to see this annual event on the Saturday before St. Patty’s Day, so grab a spot between State and Columbus before the action begins at 9 a.m. A word of warning: The river only retains its color for approximately five hours, so keep an eye on the time.
After ogling the river, head to Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade (one of the largest in the country) on Columbus Drive between Balbo Drive and Monroe Drive. Almost as colorful as the parade itself are its spectators, so pull out your most festive green wares and dress to impress.
Though not as large, the South Side Irish Parade in Beverly has been a popular Chicago tradition since 1979. It’s tamed down over the years (open alcohol is banned), making the event more family-friendly. The parade takes place on Sunday, March 15, at noon, kicking off at 103rd and Western and proceeding south down Western Avenue to 115th Street.
While it may not be as dramatic as dyeing an entire river, Savannah has its own entertaining tradition: dying its fountains green. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Marshal will do the deed on Friday, March 6, at noon, starting with the stunner in Forsyth Park. It remains one of the most anticipated (and social media-worthy) kick-off events in town.
Why wait until the 17th to celebrate? The lively pre-St. Patrick’s Day Festival on River Street and in nearby City Market takes place March 13-15 from 10 a.m. to midnight. Expect food trucks, local arts and crafts, and live music on several stages around town. Some of downtown is considered the "St. Patrick's Day Festival Zone" and will require the one-time purchase of a wristband. Check out the Savannah Waterfront Association website for more information.
Trending right behind New York, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah (going strong since 1824) is the second largest in the U.S. Expect pipe bands, Irish dancers, and an enthusiastic crowd. The parade will commence at Gwinnett and Abercorn streets – just east of Forsyth Park – at 10:15 a.m. on March 17 until it reaches Madison Square at 2:30 p.m.
Los Angeles, California
Get in the spirit early with an evening of lively Irish music, dancing, and singing at the St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland concert. Several special guests, including the Celtic Irish Dance Academy and Maeve Croke (Riverdance), are expected to make an appearance. Check out this special event at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center (Scherr Forum Theater) in Thousand Oaks on March 12 at 7:30 p.m.
LA’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place in Hermosa Beach on Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. An estimated 20,000 people will attend the seven-block parade that travels west on Pier Avenue (from Valley Drive to Hermosa Avenue) and then south on Hermosa Avenue (from Pier Avenue to 10th Street). Highlights include bagpipers from the Emerald Society and furry friends from the Irish Setters Club of Southern California.
New Orleans, Louisiana
While you may be more familiar with the French influence and Spanish culture of NOLA, thousands of Irish laborers built the New Basin Canal in the 1830s. These workers and their families settled in the area known as the Irish Channel south of Magazine Street. On March 14, the annual Irish Channel Parade takes place in this historic area. The local favorite begins at 1 p.m. at St. Mary’s Assumption Church.
Street parties begin well before Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but it’s safe to say the festivities for St. Patty’s Day are a lot tamer. There are three legendary parties: Parasol’s Block Party and Tracy’s Block Party on March 14 and the Irish Channel Block Party on the 17th. Expect live music, delicious Irish fare, green beer, and dancing into the night – knowledge of the Irish jig not required.
To get started planning your St. Patrick’s Day celebration in one of these world-class cities, visit Vacations by Marriott today.