When you think of the biggest and best and most exciting St. Patrick's Day celebrations and parades, you probably first think cities with huge Irish populations like, say, New York City (where the first recorded St. Patrick's Day parade was held in 1762) and Boston – and rightly so. But it's a big world out there, and St. Patrick's Day is a popular holiday. So there's a lot more to St. Patrick's Day than planting potatoes and eating corned beef and cabbage.
take a look then at some of the rowdiest, Irish-est, greenest St.
Patrick's Day events in the weirdest, unlikeliest places around the
world . . .
the longstanding animosity between the Irish and the English, you
might not think of London as a venue for one of the biggest St'
Patrick's Day celebrations. But it is.
in the heart of London in Trafalgar Square, this event attracts
150,000 visitors and boasts a green-hued parade that leaves
Piccadilly, passes several renowned London landmarks, and winds up at
the Square. Now approaching its second decade of existence, the
London St. Patrick's Day celebration "showcases the best of
Irish song, dance, culture and arts, including London Irish sports
clubs, dance schools, marching bands and pageantry. Other attractions
throughout the day include an artisan Irish food market, ceilidhs,
comedy and film festivals as well as a variety of children's
Toronto has hosted "one of the biggest and wildest St. Patrick's Day Parades in North America, and the world, for more than 150
to Discover). The 90-minute parade, which processes from Bloor
and St. George to Queen Street at Nathan Philips Square, kicks off
the event and draws more than half a million spectators every year.
celebration continues at the city's restaurants and bars, many of
which hold special holiday events. Recommended spots include "the
Watermark Irish Pub & Restaurant, with its prime waterfront spot
offering amazing views, as well as McVeigh's, the quintessential
Irish bar that's been at the same location at Church and Richmond for
nearly 50 years" (Trips
you think of things Irish, Seattle doesn't often come to mind. Still,
it is rainy and green like Ireland and so has been dubbed the
"Emerald City." Seattle's St. Patrick's Day celebration,
which draws 20,000 attendees, begins with a parade from the Seattle
Center. Additional attractions include live performances, visual
arts, hands-on activities, games, abundance of food, and a
marketplace. You will also find plenty of Irish music and dancing,
booths stocked with Irish products, and cultural exhibits. Those
interested in their Irish heritage can attend the workshops dealing
with genealogy and the Irish language.
may be where they speak French, but Montreal is also the host city of
the oldest St. Patrick's Day parade in Canada, almost 200 years old.
The St. Patrick's Day celebration goes back to 1759 when it was
observed by Irish soldiers of the Montreal Garrison with special
dinners and religious services. Today's parade is a three-hour
procession led by a Grand Marshal and includes floats, bands,
community groups, and cultural/ethnic groups. The city's pubs and
restaurants feature special menus and host special events for the
are fond of St' Patrick's Day too. In Auckland they have the proud
distinction of holding the celebration on this day located farther
away from Ireland than any other, about 11,300 miles from Dublin.
is the keynote in Auckland on St. Patrick's Day. The 1,076-foot-tall
Sky Tower is lit up in a greenish hue throughout the whole day. And
the parade "features entertainers in orange and green with Irish
banners, floats, dancers and bands" (Trips
to Discover). You can also take in the Irish Society's Fair Day,
which features activities, food, face painting, Gaelic football, and
Irish music and dancing. And there is the green-themed event called
"The Greening" revolving around food and drink and special
has the beer, but it also has the largest St. Patrick's Day parade in
Europe outside of Ireland. It was started about 20 years ago some
Irish expatriates and today boasts over 15,000 participants and
spectators. Munich's St. Patrick's Day celebration is a three-day
weekend affair packed with special events just before March 17. There
is also a big After-Parade Party featuring marching bands (of
course), Irish bands, and children's entertainment. And consumption
of the famous German beers takes a backseat to Guinness drinking.
Aires may be known as the "Paris of South America," but on
St. Patrick's Day it becomes Irish. The capital city of Argentina is
home to the largest St. Patrick's Day celebration in all of South
America, which includes elves, fairies, and Irish dancers. Not only
does Buenos Aires "put on a spectacular parade, [but] it hosts
an annual street party in the city center with lots of music and
dancing, including Irish-flavored rock groups like The Kilt and
Tartan Army, and Celtic Argentina, one the largest Irish dance
schools in South America and the largest in Argentina" (Trips
believe it or not, they actually do celebrate St. Patrick's Day in
Moscow. In fact, the parade, first held in 1992, draws thousands of
Muscovites who congregate on Novy Arbat to watch the parade and
participate in festivities. This parade has a peculiarly Russian
flavor with its Cossack horsemen and marching bands, as well as huge
Irish wolfhounds and floats sponsored by local bars. And everyone
gets involved, including police and government entities such as
Moscow's Irish embassy.
your usual venue for St. Patrick's Day celebrations, Tokyo is now
home to several parades. The impetus for these St. Patrick's Day
parades came from the Irish Network Japan with the aim of introducing
the Japanese people to Ireland and Irish culture. The parade, then,
displays a celebratory mix of traditional Japanese dress and Irish
main St. Patrick's Day parade is big deal, with appearances by
several foreign dignitaries over the years, including Ireland's
Deputy Prime Minister Mary Hearney in 2001. "It's cheered on by
as many as 30,000 spectators, and there are also an increasing number
of Irish pubs that send over attractive women known as 'voucher
girls' to the parade to pass out free beer. The city's Omotesando
shopping district is draped in tricolor flags, and a cast of floats,
Irish dancers, leprechauns, and Irish setters and wolfhounds all
entertain the crowds" (Trips
Patrick's Day celebrations in the Caribbean? Yet bet, especially on
the tiny island of Montserrat in the Lesser Antilles. In fact, this
island nation is the only other nation in the world besides Ireland
to observe St. Patrick's Day as a public holiday. It came about like
this . . .
is a British Overseas Territory settled in large part by Irish
pioneers who brought their festivities and shamrocks to their new
home. And in 1768 a slave revolt occurred in which slaves attempted
(mostly unsuccessfully) to throw off the rule of the Irish planters.
These things got mixed together in the cultural stew, and today the
celebration commemorates both the slave freedom fighters and the
Irish Catholic element in the island's history.
today, "March 17th is celebrated with a week-long
festival of independence, with the main event as the Masquerade, in
which Montserratians dress in colorful hats that resemble bishops'
miters. They also dance Irish jigs and crack whips in mock defiance
of their one-time masters. Irish sing-alongs and historical lectures
are common on the holiday as well" (Trips
St. Patrick's Day Events in Expected Places
of course, we can't just leave it at that . . . without including a
couple of mentions of the expected . . .
The Windy City is known for hosting one of the most impressive St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the US and in the world, really. The parade is impressive, but the real draw in Chicago is the green river.
year, the Chicago River is transformed from a muddy brown flow into a
long stretch of startling Irish emerald green – and has been for
the past 60 years. This provides an eminently fitting backdrop for
the parade that processes from Balbo Drive to Monroe Drive with
floats, bands, bagpipes, and Irish dancers.
And then there's Dublin, the capital city of Ireland, at the heart of all St. Patrick's Day celebrations. It's an all-out four-day festival
during which the city looks like a sea of green attire and green
hats. The parade, the main event, includes fantastically
imaginative floats and both local bands and bands from other
countries, including the US and Brittany. And in keeping with Irish
ways, the Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Village is usually open
"showcasing great beer, whiskey, artisan food and
if you get an itch to travel for St' Patrick's Day, you'll find no
shortage of huge events across the globe. And be sure and eat your
potatoes – it was the lack of this food, primarily, that that
scattered the Irish to the four corners of the world.