‘St. Patricks Day’: How it is celebrated in Ireland and around the world

Observed every year on March 17th in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick’s Day is a religious and cultural festival celebrated by the Irish community and happy to join in visitors, all over the world.


I remember very well, the excitement and anticipation leading up to this day from when I lived in Ireland. For my children it would often mean a day off school and to have their faces peppered with bright green painted on Shamrocks.  Taking a trip into Dublin for the fun and festivities – and always a special restaurant lunch with friends and visiting family, where we would all warm up after standing with thousands of others in the cold weather but being warmed by the colourful spectacle we were witnessing.



It’s not just New York, outside of Ireland’s capital city, that celebrates this day either.  The dyeing of the Chicago River to a bright emerald green is a sight to behold before the annual parade and celebrations in Chicago.



With thousands of Irish ex-pats enjoying life on the other side of the world, it is no wonder that Sydney, Australia has entertainment activities that last the whole day and the iconic Sydney Opera House is lit up in green!  While Sydney goes big for the day, on the other side of the country Perth commits for the whole week with a host of races, competitions, children’s activities and a massive parade as the finale.


With a friendly rivalry between the two countries, New Zealand, the farthest celebration away from Ireland at almost exactly the opposite end of the world, is decking out in green this year, their tallest building, the Sky Tower in Auckland.  Leading up to the big day there are also lots of events happening and after the main parade there will be traditional Irish music and dancing, food stalls, Gaelic football, along with Auckland’s numerous Irish pubs celebrating all things Irish.


Another famous global landmark going green for St. Patrick’s Day this year is the stunning backdrop of Cape Town in South Africa – Table Mountain.  With plenty of parties in some of their best Irish pubs and with the date falling on a Sunday this year, it is unlikely to be a day of rest for many!


Perhaps surprisingly, in Mumbai, the Gateway of India is turning green in honour of St. Patrick with pubs catching up on the trend of celebrating this day and you can now find green-themed party and day-long happy hours on March 17th!


Carrying on the theme of lighting up in green iconic buildings, the city that claims the prize of the annual parade being the largest in the world, New York City will be lighting up the Empire State Building!  The parade, which takes over much of New York’s 5th Avenue and lasting 6 hours attracts huge crowds both in person outside and is broadcast to millions of viewers inside at home too.  With bars and pubs filled with people wearing green and orange, this is a high-energy day with plenty of craic to be had!


South America’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations take place in Buenos Aires, a city with the 5th largest Irish community in the world.  While a parade isn’t part of the celebrations, if you are in Buenos Aires on the big day, you’ll find a 10-block area of the Retiro district turned into a giant street party featuring Irish music and dancing.


A very unique place to celebrate and is the only country, besides Ireland, where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday, is Montserrat in the West Indies.  The celebration though marks the anniversary of an unsuccessful slave revolt against the European whites who colonized it in the 17th century with seven out of ten of those being Irish.  Today, it is celebrated by a week-long festival of independence, providing a rich mix of Irish and African heritage making this one of Montserrat’s most popular annual events.  Montserratians dress in colourful hats, resembling the Catholic Bishop’s Mitres, dance Irish jigs, Guinness flows and the parade floats and dancers encourage the crowd to dance along. Unsurprisingly the event attracts visitors from all over the world to this Emerald Isle in the Caribbean!


Of course, not to be outdone, our own St. Patrick’s Day Parade in London will be taking place on Sunday March 17th and will feature colourful floats and marching bands, along with an all-day festival at Trafalgar Square with free entertainment from noon to 6.00 p.m. including traditional Irish dancing and music.



If you and others would like to join in the celebrations and be a spectator to any of these parades and festivals, don’t hesitate to contact me for hotels, flights, etc.

Lynn Barham

Independent Travel Consultant with Not Just Travel

Tel: 077 0923 1341

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