How the world celebrates Saint Patrick's Day

Tamara Hinson

You don’t have to possess Irish roots to raise a toast to our favourite saint, and these days, Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations take place all around the world. Here are our (sometimes surprising) favourites. 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has some of the best places to raise a toast to Saint Patrick. To start with, there’s Blue Supreme, where you can sip a pint of Magic Ghost, an ale with a bright green hue.

If that’s not enough, on Saint Patrick’s Day, with each pint of Magic Ghost you’ll get a free shot of Irish whiskey, just to really hammer that hangover home.

Another option is the historic Happy Valley racecourse, which will have a Saint Patrick’s night celebration on 14 March. Expect fiddle bands and delicious Irish delicacies—with a Hong Kong twist.

 

New York, US

New York’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebration is the world’s largest. It all kicks off on the 17 March at 11am, when 200,000 people march from Fifth Avenue to 79th Avenue, via a stop-off at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral (or alternatively, one of the many Irish bars en route).

Unusually for a parade of this size, there are no floats—just Irish dancers, bands and more bagpipes than you can shake a leprechaun’s stick at.

Weird fact: the event dates back to 1762, which makes it older than the US, founded in 1776.


Montserrat, Caribbean


Image via Hungry Travelers

Dublin might be one of the prettiest places to pay tribute to Saint Patrick, but if you want somewhere a little sunnier, why not head to the Caribbean island of Montserrat?

It’s got Irish roots which date back to the seventeenth century, and the gold-and-green flag even bears the image of an Irish harp.

17 March is the big day, although the island’s Irish connections are celebrated throughout the year, and every single visitor to Montserrat will have a shamrock stamped into their passport.

 

Buenos Aires, Argentina and Rio, Brazil

We’re including two South American options because they’re both fantastic cities to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day.

Buenos Aires, which lays claim to South America’s biggest celebration, has the world’s fifth-largest Irish community. On 17 March an enormous, ten-block Saint Patrick’s Day festival will take over Reconquista Street, and a huge parade finishes in the beautiful Plaza San Martín.

As for Rio? Despite the fact that its Irish community is rather small, it earns its place in this list thanks to the spectacular makeover of the Christ the Redeemer statue, which is turned a startling shade of green.

 

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo’s first Saint Patrick’s Day parade took place in 1992, and the city’s celebrations are some of the most extravagant.

300,000 people (and somewhat bizarrely, a huge number of dyed green dogs) take part in the parade, and Guinness even sends over huge shipments of its famous Irish tipple.

Then there’s the endearingly-named “I love Ireland Festival”. Held in Yoyogi Park in the Shibuya district, it’s the biggest Irish event to take place in Asia.

 

London, UK

Trust London to come up with some weird and wonderful ways to celebrate Ireland’s most important day. A Saint Patrick’s Day festival will transform Trafalgar Square on the 16th, 17th and 18th of March, but our favourite event will be held at the Irish-owned Bloomsbury Club Bar, inside the Bloomsbury Hotel.

The Irish owners have partnered with Irish distillers, the Dingle Distillery and barbershop Truefitt & Hill to host a “Trim & Tonic’ pop-up where, on 17 March gents can sign up for £25 shaves, served with Dingle’s legendary gin and tonics.

The best bit? If you’re Irish, bring along your passport and you won’t pay a penny. The bar will also hold a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration from 6pm until 1am—expect traditional music and Irish delicacies.

 

Savannah, Georgia, US

The city of Savannah has America’s second-largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade. Taking place on 17 March, the event will see Irish dancers and musicians from Georgia take to Savannah's streets, joining 350 marching bands and thousands of spectators.

It’s been held almost every year (barring WWI) for the past 188 years, but the reason we love this particular event is the fountain in Forsyth Park, which is dyed emerald green.

 

Dublin, Ireland

What better place to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day than in Dublin, Ireland?

The celebrations last for five days, from 16 March to 19 March, and comprise an Irish beer and whiskey festival, live music, street performances and boat races. Half a million visitors are expected to attend.

If you’re planning on stopping by, make sure you squeeze in a night time wander around the city—some of the most popular landmarks, including St Patrick’s Cathedral (above) and the Natural History Museum, will be given a green glow for the duration of the celebrations.

 

Sydney, Australia


Image via Kimberly Vardeman

Sydney’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade, on 18 March, has been taking place for more than 200 years and it’s the only one, outside of Ireland, sponsored by the Irish Government.

A whopping 35 per cent of Australians have Irish ancestry, so it’s hardly surprising it’s one of the country’s liveliest celebrations. Most of the action, including live music, marching bands, and bouncy castles, will take place in Moore Park, but we also suggest stopping by the Sydney Opera House, which will be turned bright green.

 

Chicago, Illinois, US

Chicago doesn’t just turn a couple of fountains green—it goes one step further by filling its river with huge amounts of bright green dye—but don’t panic, it’s apparently environmentally friendly.

Funnily enough, the dye was first used by scientists as a way to identify a sewage problem, but we’re assured the water’s much cleaner these days.

The “greening” of the river, which takes place a week before the celebrations, is an attraction in itself, attended by 400,000 people. The main parade, which takes place on 17 March, starts on Columbus Drive and finishes on Monroe Street.

 

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Las Vegas’s stunning LINQ Promenade is the setting for Nevada’s biggest Saint Patrick’s Day celebration.

On 17 March, thousands of revellers will attend the annual BLOQ Party, a free event organised by the city’s iconic Irish-themed casino and pub, O’Sheas Casino.

Unsurprisingly, for a city known for its all-you-can-eat buffets, the event’s famous for its food-and-drink specials, including a so-called Bagpiper Breakfast and Saint Patrick-themed pizzas. Only in Las Vegas.