Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While you can get into the holiday spirit no matter where you are, we’ve found the 6 best places to get your Irish on. So assuming you’re still coherent enough to read this, go ahead and find out where the spirit of Saint Patrick is most alive and well.
6. United Kingdom
Unsurprisingly, the UK has a large Irish population due to its immediate proximity. Throughout the country, Irish communities – and interested parties – get together to celebrate. Cities such as Liverpool (which has the largest proportion of residents with Irish heritage of any city in England), Manchester, London, and Glasgow put on parades and hold other celebrations on or around March 17th.
The city of Birmingham however is home to the largest parade in Britain. The parade covers a 3 km route and is touted by organizers as the largest of its kind after New York and Dublin.
5. Outer Space
While this may not be a feasible option for everyone this year (or even next), it’s interesting to note that St. Patrick’s Day has even been celebrated outside of our atmosphere. While aboard the International Space Station, Irish-American Catherine Coleman played a flute and tin whistle belonging to the Irish band, the Chieftains in 2011.
More recently, Canadian Chris Hadfield donned himself in green, took pictures of Ireland from space, and recorded himself singing the traditional song ‘Danny Boy’. If there was ever an example of how widespread St. Patrick’s Day has become, this is probably it.
Here in Canada, one of the hotspots of Irish spirit on March 17th is Montreal. Home to the longest running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in Canada, the city has held the parade without interruption since 1824. The history of the holiday in Montreal goes back even earlier to 1759 when Irish soldiers garrisoned in Montreal started the celebrations.
Not to be outdone, Canada’s largest city Toronto also puts on its own parade. Usually taking place on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day (sorry if you missed it this year), the parade draws people of all ages and backgrounds.
As one of only 4 places in the world to make St. Patrick’s Day a public holiday, Newfoundland and Labrador might just offer the most enjoyable celebration in the country. With a large amount of Newfoundlanders being of Irish heritage, you can’t go wrong – especially if you check out one of the many bars and pubs on George Street.
3. United States
Like Canada, the United States is home to a large amount folks with Irish ancestry. The city of Boston especially has strong links to Ireland due to years of immigration. Home to yet another parade, Boston always puts on a show. Plus you can usually expect to see the Dropkick Murphy’s showing off their Celtic influenced rock.
Another east coast city, New York, can proudly claim that their St. Patrick’s Day parade is the largest in the world. Generally drawing at least 150,000 marchers and 2 million onlookers, the route stretches for 1.5 miles along 5th Avenue in Manhattan – for 5 hours. Always led by the 69th Infantry Regiment (New York) – an Irish heritage unit – the New York parade is one of the most famous in the world.
Though many other cities throughout the US also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the city of Chicago sets itself apart by dyeing the Chicago River green. While the jury is still out on whether the effect is cool or disgusting, we can’t deny its uniqueness and testament to the Irish community of Chicago.
This is an obvious one. Celebrating St. Patty’s in Ireland is probably the most poetic way you could go about it. St Patrick’s Day is important throughout the country as both a secular celebration and a Catholic one – which has caused some church leaders to speak out against what they perceive as excessive drinking. Besides the annual celebrations, the holiday is also used by the government as a platform to promote Irish culture and the Irish language at home and abroad.
While almost any community within Ireland will likely have some sort of celebration, the biggest is unsurprisingly located in Dublin. The St. Patrick’s Day Festival – started in 1995 – lasts for 4 days (March 14 – March 17). A treasure hunt, parade, beer and whiskey festival, boat races, and tons of shows celebrating Ireland take place over the duration of the festival. So if you’re celebrating in the home of Saint Patrick, Dublin is the place to be.
Along with the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Newfoundland and Labrador – this British Overseas Territory is the only other place recognizing St. Patrick’s Day as a public holiday. The population is a mix of descendants of Irish exiles and African slaves, and has been called the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean.
The weeklong festival celebrates a unique mix of both Irish and African culture – in a tropical setting. Weather wise, this is probably the best St. Patty’s celebration you could find. In addition to Saint Patrick, March 17 also commemorates a failed slave uprising that took place in 1768.
But how do I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?
While it may be too late this year to jet off to Montserrat or St. John’s, it has become so universal to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day that you’ll find something to do no matter where you are. Whether it’s a night out (or in) with friends, a Guinness at your local Irish pub, or whatever else you have in mind, there’ll be a way to join in the festivities. So break out all your green clothes and enjoy Lá Fhéile Pádraig!
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