The luck of the Irish isn’t solely confined to its homeland–far from it, actually. While celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the Emerald Isle should certainly be a goal, you may be surprised by the other global cities going gloriously green for the festivities, too. From the Caribbean to Tokyo, check out who’s channeling a little extra Ireland this Friday—each with its own cultural twists.
This quaint Caribbean island of 5,000 inhabitants packs a surprisingly large St. Patrick’s Day punch. Its 17th-century Irish Catholic settlement formed deep cultural roots in “the other Emerald Isle”—leading to St. Patrick’s Day becoming a national holiday. Nowhere else in the world besides Ireland itself has the day been given this level of importance, so expect its festivities to take the (pot o’) gold. Enjoy an Afro-Caribbean twist on the 10-day celebration, which involves a calypso competition, Kite Festival, and green-colored beer—plus a shamrock-shaped stamp on your passport to boot.
Parade fanatic? Then 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. The performance features about 150,000 dancers, musicians, and more, with cars and floats prohibited from taking to the street. Cooler still? This New York tradition has been in place since 1762, making its run longer than the United States has been a country.
Go down under for the Southern Hemisphere’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Sydney’s “Green Gathering” is organized around family-fun events and a children’s parade—however, these merely top the entertainment list. Prince Alfred Park features green goodness galore, like local crafts, Irish dancers, marching bands, and musical performances (plus plenty of drinks, of course). Feast on the many food stalls, and make sure you see the Sydney Opera House: It’s lit green for the holiday.
North America’s most European city has been channeling Ireland on St. Paddy’s for ages. Its long-standing parade has marched on for 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. C’est la vie canadienne!
The tension between Brits and the Irish is replaced with clashing pints and hearty “cheers” for St. Patrick’s Day. London’s festivities are utterly brilliant and offer a little something for everyone. Culturists can catch film screenings, an art exhibition, and poetry readings, while history buffs may prefer to follow historical trails throughout the city. More rambunctious attendees, however, should head to Trafalgar Square. The morning parade culminates in a daylong festival filled with musical acts, food, and even a fashion show—all enhanced by the many special events at surrounding pubs. The London Eye turns into eye candy as well, illuminated with a shamrock hue.
Boston is largely regarded as one of the most Irish cities in the States, which becomes especially evident on March 17. This city actually hosted the world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade in history back in 1737, and today, it’s the second-largest parade in the country. Enjoy gourmet Irish fare in restaurants, plus an annual performance by local Celtic punk-rock band the Dropkick Murphys. Just head over to the House of Blues to get your world (sham)rocked.
Did you know that Buenos Aires holds the fifth-largest Irish population in the world? ’Tis true. The result is the continent’s largest St. Patrick’s Day fiesta, spanning 10 city blocks in the upscale Retiro district. Live music and dancing take center stage, along with an annual parade and costume contest. May the best-dressed leprechaun and fairy win.
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. The event culminates with a cultural party in Odeon’s Plaza (Odesonsplatz) of Irish music, dancing, and general Bavarian merriment. Guinness steins encouraged.
You know it’s St. Patrick’s Day when Manneken Pis wears a cable-knit sweater. Join Brussels’s most famous statue in donning green for the occasion, and 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.
Ireland and Japan are celebrating their 60th anniversary of diplomacy this year, making Tokyo’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities bigger than ever before. The theme of “Eco & Sports–Rugby” stands for friendly relations and open barriers, best represented through the good ol’ love of sport. In addition to a parade along bustling Omotesando Street (an event in its 25th year and the largest in Asia) expect two days of food, drinking, and activities in Yoyogi Park.
Magnificent Table Mountain turns bright green this Friday, setting a festive backdrop for the occasion. Pubs, bars, restaurants, and clubs offer Irish entertainment and specials galore, all with a South African twist. The more green on your person, the better.