Banner Image: Patryk Kosmider / Shutterstock
When you live on the east coast, St. Patrick’s Day is two things in one: a great excuse to get drunk before noon and the unofficial kick-off to spring!
I was born and raised in Philadelphia, a city with lots of Irish roots and ancestry. In Philly we have what the locals call the Erin Express... which is basically just a series of school buses that drive drunkards from bar to bar to bar to bar in different neighborhoods. By the time the sun sets, you can count on a lot of puking, a lot of screaming and a fight or two. (It is Philly, after all).
But the big east coast cities aren’t the only places that have massive St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. This is a holiday that’s celebrated all over the world!
Looking for a super fun and unique way to spend St. Paddy’s Day this year? Here is a roundup of the 8 best St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world!
It goes without saying that Dublin, Ireland hosts one of the world’s greatest St. Patricks’ Day parades. With about a half a million visitors each year, this parade is a spectacle of sight and sounds. It features local and national bands, incredible performers, and lots and lots of Irish dancing.
But the parade is just one part of the St. Paddy’s Day celebration. In Dublin, it’s a five-day celebration. Showcasing the rich heritage and unique spirit of Ireland, the Dublin celebration is everything you want in a cultural festival. And yes, there is plenty of Guinness involved.
From elaborate floats to marching bands to sports clubs, the St. Patrick’s Day parade in London is a sight to behold! This London parade attracts over 125,000 people each year, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s completely free to attend the event, but you’ll want to have a few bucks on hand to drink some Guinness and sample lots of Irish food.
At this celebration you’ll find an Irish artisan food market, lots of Irish dancing, and family-oriented events that you can enjoy with your kids. Craft stalls, workshops and various cultural activities make it a family friendly event.
In the Caribbean nation of Montserrat, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just a parade – it’s a ten-day festival. This island nation might seem like an unusual place to spend St. Paddy’s Day, but the history behind it makes it one of the more unique places to celebrate the holiday.
In Montserrat, St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of the rise of slave freedom fighters that revolted in 1768. It’s a festival of independence, yet it’s full of the most-loved Irish traditions. You'll be able to enjoy Irish jigs, Irish sing-alongs and a variety of other cultural events.
Montreal may be known as a French city, but they host one hell of a St. Patrick’s Day parade! Featuring amazing floats, a variety of talented performers, and incredible bands, this celebration has thousands of participants.
You’ll see Canadian flags amidst green shamrocks, pitchers of green beer and LOTS of costumes. Like all of the other parades on this list, you’ll want to deck out in your best green duds to show your Irish pride!
New York City
With over 150,000 performers, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade is by far one of the world’s largest. It’s even bigger than the celebration in Dublin! Because everything is bigger and better in NYC.
This parade marches straight up Fifth Avenue, passing, of course, the famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If you’ve never been there, St. Patrick’s is an NYC landmark and one of the most beautiful churches on the east coast.
Military groups, Irish bands, marching bands, social clubs, firefighters …
This celebration is an example of all that is great about New York. Tens of thousands of people who aren’t even Irish come out to celebrate the Irish culture, dance, party and, of course, drink green beer.
Plus, in NYC, the bars are open till 4 am, so you can carve out a great spot on the parade route in the early morning and literally turn it into a 24-hour event.
Of all of the people in the U.S. with Irish ancestry, Massachusetts is home to the greatest percentage. So it’s no surprise that the city of Boston throws one kick ass St. Patrick’s Day celebration!
About one million people crowd the streets of South Boston every year to watch the festivities.
Floats, bands, dancers and performers of all sorts take to the streets to entertain the massive crowds. But the party certainly doesn’t end when the parade is over. Head to any Southie bar that afternoon and you’ll realize that the party is just getting started!
If you’ve ever spent a night on Bourbon Street you know one thing – New Orleans knows how to party! As if NOLA needed another excuse to throw a massive bash…
In a city that’s known for pub crawling and getting wasted, St. Paddy’s Day in the French Quarter is more than just an organized parade route with live music and entertainment. That’s a part of it, but that’s just one small part of it.
In NOLA you’ll find day-to-night block parties, tons of live music, and more green beads than you could ever imagine. (FYI ladies, you don’t need to flash – you can buy beads in any store!) Plus, some of the best bars are open until 5 am, so it’s a party that literally doesn’t stop until the sun comes up.
You have to love a city that dyes its river green just to celebrate a holiday. In Chi-town, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just an annual celebration, it’s a rite of passage.
Like most major metro areas, the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade can be a bit rowdy and raucous, but that’s what makes it so much fun! Floats. Bands. Bagpipers. Irish dancers. This parade has it all.
And when the parade is over, there are dozens of other events to enjoy, including extensive bar crawls!
What Cities Host the Best St. Patrick’s Day Parades?
For whatever reason, St. Patrick’s Day has become synonymous with getting drunk. It’s the one cultural holiday where people drink, dance, and party without being accused of cultural appropriation!
And that’s what makes it so much fun.
This year, St. Patrick’s Day falls on Tuesday, March 17, but many metro areas hold parades and celebrations the weekend before. Wherever you plan to be that weekend, make it a point to find a local St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Whether you’re Irish or not, it’s always a good time!
You might also be interested in: The 18 Best Snorkeling Spots Around the World