Photo by Kimberly Vardeman/Flickr
Sydney’s famous opera house gets festive for St. Paddy’s.
Ireland isn’t the only place that gets its green on—pack your bags (with leprechaun gear) for these global destinations, too.
The luck of the Irish isn’t solely confined to its homeland. While celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the Emerald Isle is certainly an experience worth pursuing, you may be surprised by these other destinations that go gloriously green for the festivities, too. Check out which places around the world channel a little extra Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day—each with its own cultural twists.
A 17th-century Irish Catholic settlement formed deep cultural roots in this Caribbean island known as “the other Emerald Isle”—for this reason, the country’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations still pack a surprisingly large punch. Nowhere else in the world besides Ireland itself has the day been given this level of importance (it’s the only place outside of Ireland where St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday), so expect its festivities to take the (pot o’) gold. Montserrat’s 10-day festival also commemorates the country’s first slave rebellion and involves a calypso competition, Kite Festival, and a Freedom Run and Walk—plus a shamrock-shaped stamp on your passport to boot.
For the Southern Hemisphere’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration, head to the Land Down Under. In Sydney, a historic neighborhood known as The Rocks will host this year’s festivities, which are organized around family-fun events and a children’s parade. The area will transform into an Irish village featuring local food vendors, craft stalls, and live musical performances. The 2019 parade kicks off at First Fleet Park at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 17, and culminates in Dawes Point Park under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Be sure to look across the water at the Sydney Opera House: It’s lit green for the holiday.
For more than 50 years, the Windy City has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a truly unique tradition: by coloring the Chicago River with an environmentally-safe, bright green dye. On the day before St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, more than 400,000 spectators gather along the river at 9 a.m. to watch the body of water change hues. Then, even larger crowds gather for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which features troops of Irish step dancers and bagpipers traveling up Columbus Drive through Grant Park starting at noon.
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North America’s most European city has been channeling Ireland on St. Paddy’s Day for ages. The long-standing parade in Montreal has marched on the holiday every year since 1824, sans a single cancellation. Marching bands, bagpipes, floats, local residents, and even a massive Saint Patrick himself commit to three hours of annual festivities, snow or shine. This year, the 196th Montreal St. Patrick’s Day Parade will take place on Sainte-Catherine Street in the downtown area starting at 12 p.m. on March 17. C’est la vie canadienne!
Parade fanatic? Manhattan’s mayhem is the St. Paddy’s place for you. In addition to the Empire State Building turning green for the occasion, the Big Apple goes big with the holiday’s largest parade in the world: a six-hour affair attracting some two million attendees that features about 150,000 dancers, musicians, and more. Cooler still? This New York City tradition has been in place since 1762, making its run longer than the United States has been a country. This year, the parade starts at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 16, and can be viewed along Fifth Avenue between 44th Street and 79th Street.
Tokyo knows how to throw an photogenic costume-filled street party, and the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are no exception. For its 27th year in Japan’s capital, the Irish-themed parade will take place at 1 p.m. in the Omotesando district (a five-minute walk from Harajuku Station). And on March 16 and 17, the “I Love Ireland Festival” comes to Yoyogi Park. Expect two days of food, drinking, and overall fun at Asia’s largest Irish festival.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Emerald Isle itself, London’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities are utterly brilliant. At 12 p.m. on March 17, the parade kicks off from Piccadilly Circus, right in the heart of the city. After passing some of London’s most iconic landmarks, the party continues at Trafalgar Square, where an hours-long entertainment festival hosts live performances by well-known musical acts. Of course, more rambunctious revelers will enjoy special events at various Irish pubs surrounding the square. The London Eye turns into eye candy as well, illuminated with a shamrock hue.
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Boston is largely regarded as one of the most Irish cities in the United States, which becomes especially evident every year on March 17. Check out the spirited St. Patrick’s Day Parade in South Boston, which attracts up to one million spectactors annually. From March 14 through March 17, you can also enjoy a live performance by local Celtic punk-rock band the Dropkick Murphys at the House of Blues. The Boston band puts on a weekend of special St. Patrick’s Day concerts every year—prepare to get your world (sham)rocked.
Germany is another country worth visiting for the holiday. Munich shuts down Leopold Street (Leopoldstrasse) for its St. Patrick’s parade, making way for a green sea of floats and performers bursting with general Bavarian merriment. In 2019, Munich’s festivities will span the whole weekend from March 15 to March 17 for the first time. After an Irish fair on Saturday and the parade on Sunday, a street food festival will be held in both the Odesonsplatz and the Wittelsbacher Platz, offering international food served to the sounds of live Celtic music performances. Guinness steins are encouraged.
Did you know that Buenos Aires holds one of the largest Irish populations in the world? ’Tis true. The result is South America’s liveliest St. Patrick’s Day fiesta, which spans multiple blocks along the city’s wide, tree-lined Avenida de Mayo, starting at 3 p.m. on March 17. Live music and folk dancing performances take center stage, along with more than 50 food and drink stalls, an annual parade, and a costume contest. May the best-dressed leprechaun and fairy win.
In Brussels, you know it’s St. Patrick’s Day when Manneken Pis (a landmark statue in the city center) wears a cable-knit sweater. Join the famous folklore symbol in donning green for the occasion on March 17, then head to Parc du Cinquantenaire for a full day of Irish fun. Try your hand at traditional sports—like Gaelic football, soccer, and camogie (a stick-and-ball game)—with other activities and crafts available for the kids. Get your dancing shoes on when the musical acts start, or leave it to the quick-footed professionals who’ll be taking the stage that afternoon.
This article originally appeared online in March 2017; it was updated on March 4, 2019, to include current information.
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