Top 10 St. Patrick’s Day Events

Check out these St. Patrick’s Day parades and celebrations around the world to show your love for the Irish.

While St. Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday, most celebrations around the globe focus on shamrocks, parades, green beverages and general revelry. Almost everyone claims to be Irish on March 17, so don’t be surprised to find a festival in the Caribbean, or that some Irish parades in the United States pre-date the American Revolution! Here’s a sampling of some of the St. Patrick’s Day parades and activities TravelMuse recommends.

1. New York City

Since 1762, New York City has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a huge parade. This year it kicks off at 11 a.m. at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue. Don’t look for floats or balloons; this is a true marching parade, with dozens of bands, pipers and the like from the United States and Ireland.

2. Boston

Boston beats New York City as the oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States, with the first one held in 1737. This year’s parade of floats, marching bands and pipers starts at 1 p.m. on March 15 in South Boston.

3. Savannah

Now celebrating its 185th year, the city of Savannah offers up one of the largest events in the United States, with 400,000 people expected to attend! The St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off at 10:15 a.m. on March 17 with bands, floats and plenty of green.

4. Chicago

For more than 40 years, Chicago has actually dyed its river emerald green for the annual Irish fest! This year, look for it to happen on March 14 at 10:45 a.m. Plus the city hosts two parades! The downtown one is always held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day and kicks off at noon. The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be on Sunday, March 15, leaving the corner of 104th Street and Western Avenue at noon.

5. Montserrat 

St. Patrick’s Day in the Caribbean? Sure! It makes sense when you find out that Montserrat recognizes the date as a national holiday and many citizens have Irish heritage. A full week of St. Patrick’s Day events is planned from March 14 to 21, with, of course, the biggest celebration on March 17.

6. Dublin

Ireland started its St. Patrick’s Day Festival only in 1995 (it was mainly a religious holiday before that). Now the hugely popular event in Dublin is a six-day affair (this year, it’s March 12 to 17), with a parade on the final day. Over the course of the festival, more than 4,000 performers will entertain about one million people with music, street theater, carnivals, comedy, street performances, dance and a treasure hunt. 

7. Vancouver 

The CelticFest in Vancouver runs March 11 to 15 and features more than 60 events, culminating in a parade on March 15 that starts at 11:30 a.m. with more than 2,000 participants.

8. Toronto 

Toronto’s 22nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled for March 15. There’s a full slate of Irish step dancers and pipe-and-drums bands who will march. The night before, put on your formal attire and attend the Grand Marshall Ball (buy tickets by March 8) to dine, dance and bid in a silent auction.

9. Sydney

Sydney’s big parade kicks off the St. Patrick’s Day 2009 celebration at noon on March 15. After the parade, a variety of entertainment, crafts, food and children’s activities are offered in Hyde Park.

10. London

London celebrates all week, but the main events are the parade and a festival, both on March 15. The parade kicks off at noon from Hyde Park corner. The festival also starts at noon and runs until 6 p.m. Trafalgar Square hosts the main stage, but events also happen at Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Sample Irish food, dance, crafts and music.  

Destinations: Savannah, Boston, New York City, Chicago, Montserrat, Toronto, Sydney, Vancouver, Dublin, London

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Arts and Entertainment, Sightseeing