March 17th honors St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland. Ironically, however, St. Patrick was not born in Ireland, but in Wales as Maewyn Succat in 387 A.D. Captured by raiders from Ireland, he was sold as a slave. It was after six years in captivity that he escaped and rejoined his family. Following the church’s teachings, his assumed calling brought him to Ireland as a missionary. As such, he worked in Ireland for 30 years, successfully converting the pagans to Christianity. After his death on March 17th, 461 A.D., he was bestowed sainthood.
Today, St. Patrick’s Day is still celebrated all over the world. Take a glimpse at the following 10 destinations that go all out for the merriment of this March holiday. Regardless of where you are, be sure to wear green, a tradition that is linked to the colors of the Emerald Isle’s terrain.
Besides being a national holiday, St. Patrick’s Day is a holy day of obligation for the Irish Catholics. But that doesn’t stop the partying in the city that started it all. Dublin holds a four-day St. Patrick’s celebration, beginning on March 16th, all the way through on March 19th. Parades, singing, dancing and outdoor performances by bands from the world-over, will undoubtedly have the Guinness flow in quantities to rival Octoberfest in Munich.
The first official St. Patrick’s Day in America was held in Boston in 1737. After 275 years, the party is still going strong, rejoicing the cultural significance of the Irish holiday. Over 850,000 people will be coming together on March 18th to view a wide range of Irish-American groups marching in the parade. In the evening, the music plays on at parties and pubs all over the city.
Year after year, the number of people who celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Buenos Aires rises. This international hot spot for celebrations claims to have the 5th largest Irish community outside of Ireland. On March 17th, a massive street party in honor of St. Patrick overflows with live music and food. Sections of streets are closed off for the festivities and the Irish pubs will fill to the brim.
Boasting a rich Irish heritage, the ‘Windy City’ certainly takes St. Patrick’s Day to heart, each year dyeing the Chicago River a bright emerald green to inaugurate the celebration. In addition, there’s a parade replete with pipe bands, an array of giant floats, and Irish dancers. Hundreds of inhabitants come together afterwards in pubs and nightclubs in Downtown Chicago. Enthusiastic patrons spend the day speak of nothing but Irish folklores, such as Mrs. O'Leary’s cow, who has been blamed for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
Florence honors the patron saint with a ‘Festa Irlandese.’ Seize the moment from March 17th through March 21St. with Celtic music and step dancing performances, all while indulging in Irish food and beer. You can purchase original crafts at the many outdoor stalls, too. All in all, the place to be in the evening is Finnegan’s, which claims to be the only authentic Irish pub in Florence.
Even ‘merry ole’ England celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with a parade and festival at the hub of Trafalgar Square. Last year’s attendees reached over 100,000 and this year’s celebration on March 18th is bound to be equally popular. The parade features colorful floats, pipe and drum bands, as well as other performance groups representing the various Irish Counties.
New York City has been holding an official St. Patrick’s Day celebrations since 1762. It has retained its title as being among the most popular destinations to celebrate the Irish National holiday. This year, over 150,000 people are expected to march up 5th Ave. starting at 44th St. Green beer and the sound of bagpipes will be heard and seen everywhere on the streets of New York City.
For the 161st time, the festivities celebrating Irish heritage will be taking over Civic Center Plaza on March 17th. If that’s not enough for you, don’t worry - San Francisco puts on the Crossroads Irish-American Festival for the entire month, all the way through April 7th. Cultural events include theater, poetry readings, fiddle concerts, as well as exhibits of historical archives about the Irish immigrants.
Once again, the parade in Savannah is set for March 17th. The celebration may have been modest when it started in 1825, but since then, it has evolved into one of the largest celebrations in the south, drawing over 400,000 people. As part of Savannah’s yearly tradition, the water in the city’s historic district’s fountains is dyed green on March 14th.
Mark the calendars for the March 11th St. Patrick’s Day parade down Constitution Avenue. You’ll see bagpipes, Irish folk dancers, floats, marching bands and more. To continue the celebration of the Irish spirit, a Shamrock Festival is scheduled on March 24th at RFK Stadium. Here, an authentic Irish village will be recreated, where you can savor Irish food and drinks, and enjoy the performances of Irish bands, singers and step dancers.