The stretch between now and cookout season always lasts longer than it should, which is why we love St. Patrick’s Day. Even though the rest of the month is often snowy, slushy, and generally gross, March 17 always manages to brighten things up. It makes you wonder: Who was St. Patrick and why do so many of us toast him with pints of green beer?
According to National Geographic, St. Patrick was actually born in Britain. At 16, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland where he spent a number of years in captivity before eventually converting to Christianity. As for the obsession with green, History.com explained the Irish began wearing shamrocks to commemorate their patron saint’s death since he used them to teach to holy trinity. Over time, the trend morphed into wearing green clothing.
While the parades we’ve all come to love are a relatively recent phenomenon, and actually American in origin, they’re part of what makes St. Patrick’s day so fun. While most cities have some sort of celebration, these seven can’t be beat for festivities.
The Windy City is always a fun place for a vacation or quick weekend getaway, but St. Patrick’s Day is one of Chicago’s true highlights. Every year, a group of plumbers dyes the river green to kick off the parade, a tradition that’s more than 40 years old. And no worries, the substance has been tested as safe for the environment.
As for the actual parade, it begins at noon on Saturday, March 12, and travels north down Columbus Drive. And because Chicagoans are a hearty bunch, the festivities will go on as scheduled no matter the weather.
Chicago offers plenty of other fun activities centered around the holiday as well. Head to Irish American Heritage Center for the St. Patrick’s Festival. This family-friendly event features music, dancing, food, and a craft fair. Also, be sure to check out some of the great restaurant and bar deals.
2. Savannah, Georgia
The weather’s decidedly different than much of the country, and certainly Ireland, when you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, which is definitely a good thing. Kick things off with the annual parade, which begins at 10:15 a.m. Get to the action is by opting for one of the shuttle services instead of trying to wrestle with impossible parking.
Though the parade is reason enough to love Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, the city keeps the party going all the way through Saturday. The River Street St. Patrick’s Day Celebration boasts a full lineup of performances and other activities. And don’t forget to purchase your wristband if you plan on partaking in a few pints.
3. Dublin, Ireland
Dublin may not have launched its own parade efforts until 1931, but the city has more than made up for it with an impressive lineup of events. The festivities last for a full four days, beginning with a carnival, followed shortly by the parade. Enjoy musical performances, walking tours, or a treasure hunt.
Though you’ll mostly find yourself quaffing Guinness in the local pubs, you can go for a more upscale experience at the Irish Craft Beer and Whiskey Village. This event runs from noon to 11 p.m. from March 16 through March 19 and features tons of fantastic food and spirits. You can buy tickets at the door, but purchasing online will minimize your wait time.
According to U.S. News & World Report, Boston holds the title for hosting the first St. Patrick’s Day parade. If that alone isn’t enough to convince you of the city’s Irish pride, that 20.4% of the population boasts roots in the Emerald Isle certainly will. But you don’t have to be Irish to enjoy the festivities. Grab some grub at a local pub, run the annual 5k race, or check out some great performances.
You may want to keep the celebrations a bit tame if you’re planning on checking out the parade because it doesn’t kick off until March 20 at 1 p.m. Though there’s been some controversy about the decision to shorten this year’s route, we suspect it will still be a great show.
5. New York
New York wins major points for the sheer size of its annual march down Fifth Avenue. According to New York City & Company, the parade starts at 11 a.m on St. Patrick’s day and typically runs until about 5 p.m. This year promises to be better than ever as it’s finally open to the LGBT community, a move that prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to end his boycott.
If parades aren’t really your thing, New York is still hard to beat for festivities around St. Patrick’s Day. The city hosts a number of pub crawls, including one on the big day. You can also enjoy literary events, performances, and Irish-themed cooking classes.
Seattle’s own Irish Heritage Club hosts Irish Week every year, but it’s sort of a misnomer because the events go on for much longer than just a week. While some of the events have already passed, the best is still to come. Start out by attending the parade on March 12 from 12:30 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. before heading to the Seattle Center for Irish music, dance, food, workshops, and more.
Perhaps the most fun activity is a regularly scheduled event that just happens to fall on St. Patrick’s Day this month: Seattle’s Best Damn Happy Hour. This event boasts a DJ, themed cocktails, tons of board games, food and drink specials, and raffle prizes. Best of all, there’s no entry fee.
This year marks the 193rd consecutive march for Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Parade. Because the parade is reserved for the Sunday closest to the actual date, it won’t be until March 20 this year, which is good news if you’re trying to throw together a last-minute trip. Make sure to fuel up for the fun by grabbing a great breakfast and heading to some of the pubs.