K.C. Dermody / Mar 04

Best Cities for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

K.C. Dermody / Mar 04

When it comes to the best cities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, to make the most out of the popular Irish holiday, you’ll want a celebration that includes a parade, ideally with Irish dancers, lots of delicious Irish food and drinks (including green beer), and plenty of craic, which loosely translates to a good time. 

These destinations across the globe offer all that and more, ensuring a fun way to celebrate all things green.

DON’T FORGET: Where you decide to go for Irish festivities, be sure to bring a non-toxic, reusable water bottle like the LARQ bottle to avoid harming the environment with plastic water bottles. If you bring the LARQ Bottle Filtered you can be sure the water you drink is free of contaminants too. It uses Nano Zero carbon-based filters to remove common contaminants in tap water such as lead, chlorine, heavy metals, PFOS/PFOA. It can make the tap water abroad taste better and be better for you. 

Dublin, Ireland

Photo by Matheus Camara Da Silva via Unsplash

Combining a trip to Ireland with the chance to enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day festivities is the classic Irish way to celebrate. You won’t find a better place to celebrate than the Emerald Isle itself. The city of Dublin puts on the world’s biggest with a huge, wild party held over four days, March 15 through March 18 in 2024. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the highlight, starting at noon on March 17 with national and local bands as well as bands from Brittany and the U.S., dance performances, and elaborate floats. Some of the other highlights include a 5K road race and St. Patrick’s Festival Quarter at the National Museum of Ireland. It will include a Main Stage with live entertainment, a funfair,  and the Irish Food and Craft Village.

Do note that this is something you’ll want to plan for well in advance as accommodation in Dublin will sell out quickly during the week of St. Patrick’s Day. On the day of the parade, enjoy your Irish breakfast early, heading to the streets by 9 a.m. for viewing. If it’s a chilly morning, an Irish coffee is the perfect way to warm up. 

Dingle, Ireland

If you want to avoid the crowds in Dublin and enjoy one of the most picturesque spots in Ireland, Dingle may be the perfect place to celebrate. This is where you’ll find that quintessential Irish scenery where soaring emerald hills crossed with stone fences and dotted with whitewashed cottages dip down to brilliant turquoise water. The celebration begins early with the Dingle Fife and Drum Band taking to the streets of Dingle town at the crack of dawn as part of one of the time-honored St. Patrick’s Day traditions. The parade follows much later, starting at 12:45 p.m. from Ashmount Terrace. winding through the streets lined with colorful buildings and unique shops. 

After the day’s festivities, you’ll find numerous pubs where the party continues through the night, complete with live Irish tunes like Dick Mack’s. Open since 1899, it’s part leather shop, part pub, and renowned for its traditional music sessions.

Munich, Germany

If an Irish holiday with a bit of a Bavarian twist sounds appealing, head to Munich which hosts the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in Europe outside of Ireland, complete with dance groups, Irish bands, and much more. What started out as just a small celebration created by Irish expats has grown into a full weekend of events with concerts and food stalls. The peak is on Sunday when there will be over a thousand participants singing, making music, and dancing along Ludwigstraße, starting at Münchner Freiheit and ending at Odeonsplatz, where it’s followed by an open-air festival on two stages. 

Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you want some South American flavor with a big dose of green Buenos Aires hosts the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration on the continent. The Argentine capital looks more like Dublin on March 17, with a spectacular parade that includes Irish dancers, bagpipers, fairies, and elves. A street party in the city center features music and dancing that will continue in the local pubs. The most popular spot for revelry is in the Retiro neighborhood which is home to some of the oldest Irish pubs in the city, including The Kilkenny, John John, and Down Town Matias, which opened its doors a half-century ago and will serve as the kick-off spot for the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl at 6 p.m.

New York City, New York

The best place to be in the United States for showing off your green may be New York City which hosts the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, dating back to 1762 when it was birthed by Irish soldiers in the British army. Today, the parade starts at 44th Street and travels along Fifth Avenue, featuring more than 300,000 marchers, including military and police groups, firefighters, social clubs, county associations, and various performers honoring the Irish saint for more than five hours.

If you still haven’t had your fill of Irish by the conclusion of the long parade, you’ll find many Irish-themed pubs for continuing the party. The bars in the 50s along 2nd Avenue typically offer celebrations that last until the wee hours of the following morning. Paddy Reilly’s is one of the best bars in the US for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, famous for hosting live music seven days a week.

Boston, Massachusetts

There are more Irish pubs in Boston than in any other city in the U.S., perhaps thanks to its significant Irish population with over 20 percent claiming Irish ancestry. Naturally, it’s a great place for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, complete with one of the country’s biggest parades, drawing over 600,000 to Boston.

The South Boston parade is the main event featuring dozens of pipe and marching bands from across America and Ireland. Plus, the city’s own Irish-punk band, Dropkick Murphys performs here annually for the holiday and there is nearly an endless list of Irish pubs offering special menus featuring Irish fare in addition to hosting live music.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco was a popular spot for Irish immigrants, especially during the Gold Rush – by 1880, about a third of the population was of Irish descent. The San Francisco St. Patrick Day Parade started long before, taking place here every year since 1852. Today, the official celebration includes a parade and a festival, typically held on the Saturday closest to March 17.

Over 100,000 visitors arrive in San Francisco to celebrate, with lots of Irish singing and dancing, cultural performance groups, traditional Irish poetry, dance troupes, San Francisco Fire and Police, and dozens of colorful floats and marching bands. The parade kicks off at the corner of Market and 2nd Street and travels to the Civic Center. 

Chicago, Illinois

Every year in Chicago, the Chicago River is dyed emerald green for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The nearly seven decades-old tradition is a family-friendly event where viewers can witness “leprechaun magic” as the river is transformed initially to orange and then develops its vibrant green hue reminiscent of Ireland’s lush hills. It’s typically held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, which is the same day as the downtown parade, one of the largest in the country.

Starting at noon, the parade is led by an Irish pipe band and includes troops of Irish step dancers, bagpipers, marching bands, extravagant floats, and more during a three-hour celebration. The city’s Irish pubs are the place to go after watching for many. Chicago River North particularly comes alive with green spirit, hosting the year’s biggest bar crawl. 

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

There’s plenty of Irish further north for Canadians and visitors who want to celebrate. Toronto has been putting on one of the wildest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in North America for over 150 years. Attracting at least a half-million spectators, the procession starts from Bloor and St. George, traveling along Bloor Street down Yonge before concluding on Queen Street at Nathan Philips Square. 

After the parade, the celebration continues at many of the city’s bars and restaurants, some of which host special events for the day. That includes the quintessentially Irish bar, McVeigh’s, founded in 1962 at Church and Redmond for tasty pub grub, Guinness, and green beer, along with live bands. 

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

How about a little French Canadian with your Irish holiday? Montreal hosts Canada’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade, a celebration started in 1759 by the Irish soldiers of the Montreal Garrison. The three-hour procession with bands, floats, cultural and community groups is led by the Grand Marshall and followed by lots of delicious Irish eats. The city’s restaurants and pubs typically feature special St. Patrick’s Day menus along with various events. 

Hurley’s Irish Pub is widely regarded as the best in the city. It’s one of the top sellers of Guinness in North America, and it’s the place to be both before and after the parade. You can start your morning right with an Irish breakfast that includes Irish coffee, sausages, potatoes, soda bread, and other Irish delights. Afterward, enjoy live music along with at least 16 different types of whisky, 19 beers on tap, and more than 50 single malts.