Go Green at the Best St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations — and That’s No BlarneyBy Jennifer Auvil
They say everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and this is especially true across the United States, with festivals, parades and, yes, even green beer. Here are some great spots to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in the States and back in the motherland.
St. Patrick’s Day was historically a low-key religious holiday in Ireland. Then, in 1996, Dublin started a citywide festival to rival the parties across the pond in America. Today, the St. Patrick’s Festival rocks on for five days with a parade on the 17th, carnival rides at the Funfairs in Merrion Square, and art installations around town celebrating the Irish.
Before the big day, get to know the city’s pub scene on a pub crawl with Dublin’s pub experts, Publin. Just don’t expect any green beer! To blend in with the locals, stick to a pint of the black stuff — Guinness, of course.
Boston’s parade promenades through South Boston (“Southie,” to locals) on the Sunday closest to the holiday, but there’s plenty of good craic (that’s Irish for fun) all around town.
The Black Rose in Faneuil Hall has both traditional Irish food and music, including a full Irish breakfast complete with rashsers and black and white pudding to fuel a day of jigging. Closer to Fenway Park, the music is wilder when the hometown Celtic punk rock band the Dropkick Murphys play four nights at the House of Blues.
Or skip the parade and opt for a quieter stroll along the city’s Irish Heritage Trail and learn about the who’s who of Irish Boston along a network of 20 historic spots around downtown and Back Bay.
New York City
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade is a testament to the city’s Irish legacy and was the world’s first such celebration, dating back to a small gathering of immigrants in 1762.
At 11 a.m., the parade leaves 44th Street and marches up Fifth Avenue for nearly six hours, passing St. Patrick’s Cathedral before reaching 79th street. Far from the parade madness in the Financial District, the Dead Rabbit puts a modern twist on classic Irish pub fare with fancy cocktails, many showcasing Ireland’s other great thirst quencher — whiskey.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
It’s a parade fit for a limerick in Hot Springs, where the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade marches down the world’s shortest street. Don’t let the size fool you — more than 30,000 attendees come for the weekend of wacky fun.
The parade, led by Jon Heder (aka Napoleon Dynamite), is an hour-long spectacle with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Irish Elvis impersonators and Irish belly dancers. The abbreviated parade leaves plenty of time to enjoy a pint at the world’s largest pop-up, inflatable pub where you may bump into parade Grand Marshal Joey Fatone of *NSYNC fame.
You’ll need an early wake-up call to enjoy Chicago’s St. Paddy’s Day fun. First stop is Lizzie McNeill’s for a pint (doors open at 7 a.m.). From there it’s a short walk to watch the Chicago River turn a vibrant green (don’t worry — the vegetable dye is eco-friendly).
The city’s largest parade steps off from Balbo Street at noon and heads down Columbus Drive through Grant Park, ending nearly three hours later at Monroe Drive. Then it’s over to the Irish American Heritage Center for the St. Patrick’s Festival with Irish dancers, traditional music and free entry for kids 12 and under with a paying adult.
With its lush greenery and magical atmosphere, Savannah seems a likely place to spot leprechauns in the States. This is especially true when the city rolls out the emerald carpet for St. Patrick’s Day with green water filling the city’s picturesque Forsyth Park and green beer at the three-day St. Patrick’s Day festival.
Before the city’s big parade, there’s kegs and eggs for early birds at the Rail Pub, where the purchase of a drink gets you a free breakfast complete with green grits. Then the parade kicks off at 10:15 a.m. from Gwinnett and Abercorn streets and winds through the historic district with soldiers, bands, bagpipers and the Budweiser Clydesdale Horses.