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10 St. Patrick's Day alternatives to Dublin, Ireland
I've attended St. Patrick's Day in New York many times and can honestly say it is something everyone should experience at least once in his or her life. Their annual parade down 5th Avenue (shown above), which will take place this year beginning at 11AM at 44th Street, has been happening since 1762 and is said to be the largest in the world. Although the parade does not allow floats, it is a festive event with over 150,000 marchers coming out to participate each year. For those who want a little culture and history, take a walking tour of the former "Little Ireland" in the Lower East Side, which in the 19th century had more Irish residents than Dublin. At night, choose what kind of atmosphere you'd like to enjoy. Whether in dive bars, Irish pubs, dance clubs, or upscale lounges, there are a myriad of specials and parties going on in every neighborhood of the city.
If you'd like to celebrate St. Patty's in New York but want to stay away from the crowds and high prices, travel up to the state capital of Albany and partake in their annual "Kegs and Eggs" celebration. I've gone four years in a row and can vouch that it is definitely a festive time. Warning: This is only for those who are looking to get sloppy. The bars open at 7AM and before that you can find myriad parties happening from 3AM on. You can also enjoy their 62nd annual St. Patrick's Day parade, which will take place this year on March 17 at 2PM starting at Quail Street and Central Avenue.
While many people assume Boston is where the party's at, Holyoke actually boasts having the second largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the entire United States. In fact, last year they had over 400,000 attendees as well as notable visitors like Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough and the Irish Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Collins. This year, the procession will take place on March 18 and is expected to be just as big, if not bigger. The city is also well-known for its annual St. Patrick's Day Road Race (this year will be their 37th one), a 10K running event where participants dress up in green and show their Irish pride through sport.
New Orleans, Louisiana
As one of the sexier St. Patrick's Day celebrations, New Orleans takes on the holiday with a bit of a Mardi Gras twist, with the throwing of beads and the re-use of Fat Tuesday floats. To give it a St. Patty's spin, Irish stew ingredients like potatoes, cabbages, carrots, and onions are also tossed from the floats into the crowd. What many people may not know is New Orleans actually has a large Irish population and, in the southern United States, holds the largest entry port for Irish immigrants. In fact, St. Patrick's Day festivities in this city date all the way back to the 19th century.
This island off the coast of mainland Canada is one of only two places outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a public holiday. Beginning in the 17th century, Irish people immigrated to Newfoundland and set up small villages and communities, which are now known as the Irish Loop. The area has a very strong Irish culture making St. Patrick's Day celebrations span over 10-days. Visit the popular Irish pub O'Reilly's for a pint of Guinness and tons of events, or wander to any of the other local bars, all of which are sure to be celebrating to their fullest extent.
One of the best St. Patrick's Days I've ever experienced was in Sydney, Australia, and I highly recommend that everyone find someway to at least enjoy one St. Patty's Day in your life aboard a Sydney Harbour St. Patty's Day booze-cruise. For about $75, you get three hours of unlimited drinks and food as well as a live DJ, festive games, and free admission to Cargo Bar in Darling Harbour. On March 18, you can also enjoy a giant St. Patrick's Day parade, which is followed by a party in Hyde Park with Irish music, cultural dancing, and ethnic food stalls.
Dubai, Middle East
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the Middle East may sound odd to some people, but Dubai actually really gets into the holiday, thanks to the Dubai Irish Society. This is also a great alternative to Dublin for people who would rather drink green beer on a beach than in the freezing cold. The Bonnington Jumeirah Lakes Towers is a 5-star Irish owned and operated hotel that not only flies an enormous Irish flag from their 11th floor, but also serves green beer and cocktails while lighting up the venue in festive colors. They also feature Irish dancing and cultural events. For a more laid back St. Patty's experience in Dubai, head over to the Irish Village for live Irish music, family activities, and a buffet of Irish food fare.
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Not only is Birmingham cheaper than London, it boasts a bigger celebration overall. Thought to be one of the largest St. Patrick's Day festivals in the world, the holiday lasts for five days and is jam packed with cultural and festive fare. Be sure not to miss the official launch party on March 9, which features Irish music, dancing, and a delicious buffet as well as the parade on March 11, which will take place at 11AM from Camp Hill.
Who wouldn't want to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the Caribbean? Montserrat is one of the only two regions in the world outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick's Day as a public holiday and holds a rich Irish heritage. This, along with the coastline's uncanny resemblance to Ireland's, has given Montserrat its nickname, "the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean." The territory boasts a full week of activities including festive parades, concerts, themed nightlife, and celebratory dinners.
Seoul, South Korea
Thanks to the Irish Association of Korea, St. Patrick's Day is a festive event in Seoul. There is usually a massive parade (2001-2010 had a parade, 2011 just had an enormous festival), as well as a festival that includes Irish dance, music, and sports. Open air concerts, Gaelic football matches, and Irish jigs will get you hyped up during the day, while at night, the bars and clubs take on a St. Patty's ambiance with festive decor, drink specials, and theme parties.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
March is a great time to visit Buenos Aires, not only because the weather is perfect, but because the city is alive with St. Patrick's Day festivities. Argentina is actually home to the fifth largest Irish community in the world; however, most do not take part in the wild parties thrown for the holiday. If you're looking to wear green and stay up all night drinking beer, head downtown to Reconquista Street where the dancing doesn't stop until 8AM. Moreover, if you want a more cultural experience, many of the city's churches hold events for the occasion.
[photos via Kelly McCarthy, Allen Gathman, Jessieonajourney, bongo vongo, Eustaquio Santimano]
Filed under: Arts and Culture, History, Learning, Festivals and Events, Food and Drink, Stories, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America, United Arab, United Kingdom, Canada, United States, Argentina, Budget Travel, Nightlife, Middle East, Caribbean