From the Land Down Under to the Emerald Isle of Caribbean, here’s where you should visit for the iconic Irish feast day!
Come 17 March, St Patrick’s Day revellers (including those in this part of the world) celebrate dressed in their best green costume and green wig, knocking back limitless pints of Guinness at pubs.
So who is this St. Patrick that launches endless toasts on his own special day? St Patrick is patron saint of Ireland, credited as the man who ministered Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. Legend has it that he drove snakes away from Ireland!
Traditionally, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated with parades, festivals and céilithe (traditional Irish music), with obligatory green outfits and shamrock symbols. Throughout the years, the Irish have brought this feast day to different parts of the world, a day of patriotism and heritage loved by non-Irish too.
For a first-hand experience, look no further than these eight cities that take St Patrick’s Day very seriously.
Where better than to fully revel in the spirit of St Patrick’s Day than the Irish capital itself! Dublin is arguable the top venue. The locals indulge in a four-day celebration of culture and fun kicking off from 14 to 17 March. The highlight falls on the last day, with a parade that begins from Parnell Square, past Trinity College and ending at St Patrick’s Cathedral. The event draws half a million spectators spread throughout the 2.7-km route.
This year’s London St Patrick’s Day Parade is held at midday, March 13. The parade leaves Piccadilly, carries on through Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall on a 1.5-mile route. The colourful parade of performers from various organisations, dance schools and sports clubs are sure to delight both locals and tourists, especially at the sight of a green London Eye and HMS Belfast!
The city with a proud Irish heritage is one not to be missed – organisers make sure to pack the second largest St Patrick’s event to the brim. South Boston plays host to the grand parade of thousands of revellers and performers spruced up in green finery, performing a mix bag of marching, dancing, singing and playing the bagpipes. Do look out for the special St Patricks deals at various hotels!
Chicago turns green, literally, on this Irish holiday. Among the most anticipated spectacle is the green Chicago River, a “modern day miracle” that began in 1962 that goes on between six to 12 hours. The ‘greening’ is achieved through a colouring process using forty pounds of green vegetable powder.
Other landmarks that follow suit in the green movement are the home of the Chicago Bears football team, Trump International Hotel & Tower, Chicago Board of Trade.
Being at the Southern Hemisphere, Australia gets to kick off St Patrick’s Day. Since 1810, the festival has been declared an official day of celebration in Sydney. Festivities kick off at George Street with fun, games, music and dancing, before the main parade takes place at Bathurst Street and George Street. In the afternoon, merrymakers head to Hyde Park for a string of Family Day activities, including music by local Irish musicians.
Even Asia can’t escape the contagious festival. The biggest St Patrick’s Day celebration in Asia takes place in Tokyo, Japan, and also prides itself as the first St Patrick’s Day in the Northern Hemisphere since 1992.
The two-hour parade starts with a bang from fashionable Omotesando Hills that are lined with both countries’ flags and witnessed by 50,000 delighted bystanders. Dignitaries from various countries have been known to grace past parades too. Another highlight is the free beer vouchers from bars, handed out by attractive young women.
This famous Canadian version has been ongoing since 1824, making it the nation’s longest-running St Patrick’s Day parade.
The revelry is one of the grandest of its kind in North America: a three-hour affair of colourful processions is set off with lively bands, extravagant floats, and beaming costumed performers. Merrymaking carries on with pints and Irish fare at various pubs in the city.
Monstserrat has a soft spot for all things Irish due to a shared history – it is also the only nation outside of Ireland to pronounce St Patrick’s Day a public holiday. Montserrat offered refuge to Irish Catholics sent there as slaves in the 17th Century. From there, the island’s culture adapted a strong Irish influence. Till today, visitors receive shamrock-shaped passport stamps.
Montserrat’s weeklong festival is a unique mix of Irish and African heritage, with a touch of Caribbean in activities like a freedom run and masquerade dance. There’s also traditional fusion food, games and dancing throughout various locations.