Top 10: World’s Best St Patrick’s Day Parades

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 large parades celebrating Irish pride.

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Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Marching Band make their way up Fifth Avenue in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.Photo Credit:  U.S. Coast Guard  Petty Officer Seth Johnson VIRIN: 110317-G-023.

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 and Washington, DC, held their parades last weekend.

Dublin, New York, Chicago, Montreal, and San Francisco will hold their parades on the actual day.

Boston and London  will hold their parades on Sunday.

Click on the following links for dates, times, parade routes, and more details.

  1. 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 17 March 2018.
  2. 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 18 March 2018.
  3. 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 17 March 2018.
  4. St. Patrick’s Day Parade Dublin, Ireland – a parade on Saturday 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.
  5. 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 11 March to  Sunday 20 March 2017.
  6. Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade – a Philadelphia tradition since 1771, the parade took place on Sunday 11 March 2018.
  7. St. Patrick’s Parade of Washington D.C. – the parade was held in the Nation’s Capital on Sunday 11 March 2018.
  8. Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Montreal, Canada – the longest running St Patrick’s Day celebration in Canada, the parade will get off to a leisurely start on Saturday 17 March 2018.
  9. 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 17 March 2018.
  10. 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 18 March 2018.

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!  

Copyright: Michael Taylor. Pictured: Members of the Naval Reserve march up 5th Avenue in New York City during the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade. Photo Credit: via John Harrington Wikimedia Commons.

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