Festivals + Holidays
St Patrick’s Day is a religious holiday in the Republic of Ireland, where it is characterized by wearing green clothes, attending church, and the heavy consumption of alcohol. Many cities around the world also put on parades celebrating Irish pride. Check out this top 10 list!
St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Montserrat, a small island in the Caribbean.
St Patrick’s Day is also widely celebrated in the United States and other countries with large numbers of people of Irish descent such as Argentina, Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. But it is not an official holiday in any of these countries.
New York’s First St Patrick’s Day Parade
Irish immigrant communities in North America started holding St Patrick’s Day parades before the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.
The world’s first St Patrick’s Day parade, in fact, was not held in Ireland, but in New York City in 1762. A St Patrick’s Day parade wasn’t held in Dublin, Ireland, until 21 years later.
While St Patrick’s Day is not an official holiday in the United States, it is one of the most popular holidays by custom.
School children – regardless of ethnicity – uniformly show up for class wearing green on St Patrick’s Day. Parades are held in cities large and small. And heavy drinking is the order of the day.
One of the most unusual customs takes place in Chicago, Illinois, where tonnes of green dye are poured into the Chicago River each year, turning the waterway, which winds its way through the city, into a ribbon of emerald green.
10 Best St Patrick’s Day Parades in the World
St Patrick’s Day will fall on a Saturday this year, but some cities hold parades on different days.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, will kick things off a week early, holding its St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday 10 March 2019.
New York, New York; Chicago, Illinois; and San Francisco, California, will hold their St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, the day before St. Patrick’s Day.
Boston, Massachusetts; Dublin, Ireland; London, England; and Montreal, Quebec, will hold their parades on the actual day.
Washington, DC, has had to cancel its St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year.
New Orleans, Louisiana, will hold several parades.
Click on the following links for dates, times, parade routes, and more details.
- New York City St Patrick’s Day Parade – the oldest, biggest, and best St Patrick’s Day parade in the world will take place on Saturday 16 March 2019.
- South Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade – the second largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world, Boston’s parade will take place on Sunday 17 March 2019.
- Chicago’s 2018 Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – an annual tradition in the Windy City is dyeing the Chicago River green. The parade will take place on Saturday 16 March 2019.
- St. Patrick’s Festival Parade, Dublin, Ireland – a parade on Sunday 17 March 2018 will be the climax of a weekend of activities in the Irish capital, but with an expected turnout of about half a million, it seems pretty tame compared to the parades being held on the US East Coast.
- New Orleans St Patrick’s Day Parade – the Big Easy needs few excuses to hold a parade, and St Patrick’s Day is no exception. There will be parades in various parts of the city from Friday 19 March to Sunday 17 March 2019.
- Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade – a Philadelphia tradition since 1771, the parade will get a jump on things, taking place a week early on Sunday 10 March 2019.
- St. Patrick’s Parade of Washington D.C. – the parade has been cancelled in 2019. Organizers, however, are committed to holding the parade on 15 March 2020, which will be the parade’s 50th anniversary.
- Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Montreal, Canada – the longest running St Patrick’s Day celebration in Canada, the 196th parade will be held on Sunday 17 March 2019.
- San Francisco St Patrick’s Day Parade – the longest running St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the US West Coast, the parade will take place on Saturday 16 March 2019.
- The Mayor’s St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival London, England – with an expected turnout of 100,000 celebrants, the St Patrick’s Day Parade in London, England, seems a bit small by US standards, but it is the largest St Patrick’s Day celebration in the United Kingdom. It will be held on Sunday 17 March 2019.
St Patrick’s Blessing
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Happy St Patrick’s Day!