Everyone’s Irish at the World’s Biggest and Best St. Patrick’s Day Festivals


“Everyone’s Irish in March.” Or at least, everyone wants to be.

Few national holidays have been co-opted and repackaged more than St. Patrick’s Day. Since its first observation several hundred years ago, the holiday has evolved well beyond the borders of its motherland. Today, the United States and other countries now host some of the biggest and best St. Pat’s celebrations. Here are four of our favorites from around the world.

The Most Traditional: Dublin

(Photo via Flickr)

Not surprisingly, one of the world’s largest and most traditional celebrations still takes place every year in Dublin. The event lasts a full four days and includes live music, boat races, the Irish Beer & Whiskey Festival, and a massive parade. More than 500,000 people gather along the parade route from Parnell Square to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Nearly every major landmark throughout the city from the Natural History Museum to City Hall is decked out in bright green.

Related: The Ultimate St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail Menu

The Greenest: Chicago


(Photo via Flickr)

Few cities take “St. Patrick’s Day green” more seriously than Chicago. Every year on Saturday before March 17, the city dumps 50 pounds of eco-safe dye into the Chicago River, turning it a bright, alien green. At noon, hundreds of thousands of spectators gather to watch the three-hour parade along Columbus Drive. The tradition of dyeing began more than 50 years ago when the parade’s chairman noticed dye in the river (at the time used to investigate a sewage leak) and cleverly re-purposed the concept for the city’s annual celebration.

The Most Consistent: Montreal


(Photo via Flickr)

Montreal’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade could be considered the world’s most “reliable.” Since 1824 — even in the face of world-class winter storms — the festivities have persisted for nearly 200 years. Everything kicks off on the Sunday before March 17 every year with a huge facade of St. Patrick and continues for three hours with marching bands, bagpipers, floats, and plenty of green-costumed performers.

The World’s Largest: New York City


(Photo via Flickr)

New York City’s annual St. Pat’s Day festival has been running since 1762, meaning it’s technically older than the United States. Every year on March 17, more than two million people line Fifth Avenue to watch the six-hour parade which curiously features no cars or floats. Instead, up to 250,000 paraders — including bagpipers, marching bands, line dancers, and costumed performers — make the march from 44th Street to 79th Street with a ceremonial stop at the city’s iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral.