Best cities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

Who says it’s not easy being green? Celebrate the luck of the Irish in these four American cities that take St. Patrick’s Day to the next level.

Saint Patrick's Day in Chicago


Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is said to be “The most Irish city in the United States” because of its large Irish community and over 100 Irish pubs lining the city streets. When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, Boston tops the list as Irish-Americans and those Irish at heart head to South Boston for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. A sea of green-clad Bostonians fills the streets to take in the sights of colorful floats, marching bands and Irish cheer.

After the parade, it’s time for some green beer at one of Boston’s Irish pubs. Take your taste buds to Boston’s first Irish pub, The Green Dragon. Established in 1654, it was a popular meeting place for townspeople during the American Revolution, and is still a popular place for folks seeking Irish music and pub grub. Kitty O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Bistro boasts colorful stained-glass windows, along with a church pulpit, Irish antiques and 200-year-old pitch pine floorboards imported from Belfast.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago’s most famous St. Patrick’s Day ritual is the dyeing of the Chicago River, as 45 pounds of eco-friendly vegetable dye are poured into the river, turning it emerald green. The event draws nearly 400,000 spectators to downtown Chicago to catch a glimpse of the dyed river before it fades nearly five hours later.

After the dyeing, head down to Columbus Drive in your best green outfit for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which begins promptly at noon and will feature floats, Irish step dancing troupes and bands. Take in Chicago’s Irish heritage from the water on Shoreline Sightseeing’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Cruise, a 90-minute tour of city sights featuring stories about how the Irish helped shape Chicago. Visitors staying in the Loop of downtown Chicago don’t have to venture far to find Irish pubs. The Kerryman, Poag Mahone’s, Timothy O’Toole’s, Fadó Irish Pub and Emerald Loop are some local favorites.

Saint Patrick's Day in NYC

New York City

New Orleans, Louisiana

You thought the only celebration in New Orleans was Mardi Gras, didn’t you? Not so! As a Catholic city, New Orleans has always held an appeal for Irish immigrants and held its first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 1809. Today, New Orleans’ St. Patrick’s Day celebration rivals its counterparts in Boston and Chicago, with not one but six parades and festivities throughout the traditionally Irish neighborhood called the “Irish Channel.”

The largest parade takes place in Metairie along Metairie Road, where costumed riders throw Mardi-Gras beads as well as cabbages and other Irish ingredients from themed floats. The Irish Channel also host large block parties on the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day at Tracey’s, Parasol’s Bar and Restaurant, and Molly’s in the French Quarter (try the frozen Irish coffee!). For a full list of St. Patrick’s Day events in NOLA check here.

New York, New York

New York City is home to the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world, with about 200,000 participants and two million onlookers. The parade is also America’s oldest, having started in 1762, and runs up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 79th Street.

After the parade, follow the crowd down to the East Village Irish pub Dempsey’s. Classic pub fare mixed with traditional Irish music, pool tables and darts makes for the perfect setting to indulge in a few pints with your new Irish friends. Don’t forget, New York’s other boroughs like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, too! Hop over to Red Hook, Brooklyn and visit Rocky Sullivan’s, an Irish bar that regularly features live music, trivia, an open mic series and even weekly Irish language classes.

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