Green beer, nearly legal drinking in the streets, and raucous, overcrowded parades; they all come to mind when we think of St. Patty's Day. But the holiday isn't just an excuse for the Irish (and the "Irish For A Day" types) to get a bit boisterous.
These five cities have so much more to offer than just rowdy parties. Whether it's a historical walking tour in Dublin, a traditional Irish tea party in Toronto, or the world's biggest parade in New York City, we've found plenty of activities that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. And what's more? We did some extra work and found tons of activities in these cities that you can indulge in long after St. Patty's Day is over. So, get your best green gear on, grab your lucky rabbit's foot, pinch someone, and get ready to celebrate in a big way. Here are the top 10 cities to celebrate this Irish holiday.
Be sure to check out our expanded list of fantastic St. Patrick's Day cities over at ShermansTravel.
St. Patrick's Day This list wouldn't be complete without Dublin! While it wasn't the first city to have a St. Patty's Day parade, we won't hold it against them because they still have some of the most [sham]rockin' parties the world over (we had to say it). Start the celebration the week before and take a walking tour of the city with Irish author and historian Pat Liddy. He'll guide you around in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, with stops at medieval cathedrals and historic sites in the city (tickets start at around $15). Of course, you won't want to miss the main event; join thousands of other spectators as they watch the parade starting at Parnell Square. Next, head over to the Irish Craft Beer Village, where you'll learn about the emerging craft beer community in Ireland, drink, and enjoy some Irish music (tickets are around $6.50). End your day at one of Dublin's more than 1,000 pubs for a pint of Guinness, or go on a pub crawl with Dublin City Pub Crawl (tickets under $20). You'll get to see many of the city's most famous buildings being lit up in green, an event known as Greening the City. Spring in the City You can't go to Ireland in 2013 without taking part in at least one ‘gathering.' Over the course of this year, Ireland is holding The Gathering, which means people will come together from all over the world to celebrate Ireland in Ireland. Clan gatherings, festivals, sporting events, and concerts year-round commemorate the special occasion. Go onto the website and find a gathering near where you're staying. For a lower-key experience, visit the Malahide Castle and Gardens which opened up this year after being closed to the public for two years during renovations. Take a tour of the historic castle and learn about the Talbot family, who lived there from 1195-1975. The best part? This grandiose castle is just a short 30-minute drive from downtown Dublin. For a more foodie-friendly experience, the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival is not to be missed. The three-day event features a food village packed with stalls and tasting sessions, street entertainment, and fireworks on the harbor (April 25–28)! Book flights, hotels, and more on our Travel Search. Photo: St. Patrick's Festival
St. Patrick's Day St. Patty's Day in New York is the stuff of legends. The Big Apple's St. Patrick's Parade, over 250 years old, is the oldest and biggest in the world. Led down Fifth Avenue by the 69th Infantry Regiment (a military unit known as "The Fighting 69th"), the procession of roughly 150,000 is filled with firefighters, military and police groups, bands, and many more. Though only traveling a mile and a half, the parade often lasts up to five hours. But don't think that gives you ample time to arrive when you please. The event draws up to two million spectators each year, so you'll have to stake out a good spot early. Afterwards, grab a pint at the oldest Irish pub in the city, McSorely's Old Ale House in the East Village. Established in 1854, the bar was one of the last "Men Only" pubs in the city (one of its original mottos was "Good Ale, Raw Onions, and No Ladies"). The spot eventually relented and permitted women to enter…in 1970. Spring in the City Celebrate spring in New York at the 11th Annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden, where thousands of colorful flowers will be in bloom (through April 21). Be sure to check out The American Museum of Natural History for the "Whales: Giants of the Deep" exhibit. The museum's famous big blue whale will get some new friends, including a 58-foot-long sperm whale skeleton (opening March 23). Come April, the annual Tribeca Film Festival returns to lower Manhattan, showcasing a slew of up-and-coming filmmakers (April 17–28). Book flights, hotels, and more on our Travel Search. Photo: Flickr/Kelly McCarthy
St. Patrick's Day Perhaps one of the most exciting things to do in the States on St. Patrick's Day is watch as the Chicago River is dyed green. Nearly 100 pounds of green dye is dumped in the river before the famous Downtown Chicago Parade begins at noon on March 16 (always a Saturday, either on or before St. Patrick's Day). The parade usually lasts around three hours and has been around since 1843. Each year, Irish-inspired floats and dancers march in front of 200,000 spectators. Enjoy some green beer at spots like The River Shannon (Chicago's oldest Irish pub), Fado Irish Pub, or Poag Mahone's, which all host rowdy Patty parties. If you're looking for something authentically Irish, head over to the Irish American Heritage Center which hosts a party with traditional and contemporary Irish music, dancing, food, children's activities, and beer (naturally). Spring in the City If you're a sports fan, Chicago in the spring is the place to be. Attend a Bulls basketball game, watch the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, or enjoy a hot dog while cheering for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. For one day only, sip on beers from all over the world at the Chicago Beer Festival (March 30). Admission is just $40, which gets you unlimited tastings for three hours at Union Square Station. While walking the city, take a moment to look around – you might find some of the large-scale art pieces that have been set up in celebration of Chicago Artists Month. Specifically, the Chicago Sculpture Exhibits can be found in Wicker Park, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and Edgewater. Book flights, hotels, and more on our Travel Search. Photo: Flickr/Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar
St. Patrick's Day One of the main events in Toronto is the Grand Marshal's Ball, which is held on the Friday before the holiday this year. The party includes a gourmet sit-down dinner, live entertainment, and drinks (tickets under $150). The city's parade is high energy but not as rowdy as others on this list. If you don't want to head straight out to the bars, check out Montgomery's Inn (a community museum), which is holding St. Patrick's Day Tea from 1-4pm, complete with classic porter cake, shamrock cookies, and more (tickets under $10). End the night at McVeigh's, one of the oldest Irish pubs in the city. Spring in the City From March through early April, get out of the city and "tap into nature" at the Sugar Bush Maple Syrup Festival. About a 30 minute drive outside the city, the event features maple syrup tapping demonstrations, horse-drawn wagon rides, and other kid-friendly activities. Back in Toronto, see the city skyline from the water on a ferry ride out to the Toronto Islands. Have a spring waterfront picnic on Centre Island, then go to Centreville Amusement Park for the rides (opens May 4). For those looking for a little more excitement, take an Edge Walk on top of the CN Tower. You'll traverse the top of the tower (don't worry, you're connected to a safety rail with a harness) and you're encouraged to lean over the edge – over 1,100 feet and 116 stories in the air (tickets are $165)! A natural next step is heading to 360° Restaurant, also in the tower. For a true panoramic view of the city, sit down for dinner or drinks at the rotating restaurant. Book flights, hotels, and more on our Travel Search. Photo: Canada.com
St. Patrick's Day Erin go bragh down under! Sydney's St. Patrick's Day Parade and Family Day's theme this year is Sydney Celebrating Its Irishness, and the aussie's are going all out. Those marching in the parade can choose from seven categories that demonstrate the country's Irish heritage, from Convicts and Rebels to Ireland of the Present. The parade aims to weave a narrative chronicling Irish history in Australia, using music, floats, theatrical performances, dancers, and more. Following the procession, tote the tots over to Family Day at Hyde Park, which showcases an array of Irish step dance performances, bands, storytellers, an interactive baking demonstration, and an appearance by St. Patrick himself. For the older set, hop on the St. Patrick's Day Cruise for a tour of iconic Sydney Harbor and three hours of open bar, music, and games (tickets from about $71). Spring in the City No matter where your interests lie, the city is a hotbed of cultural events. If you're intrigued by Sydney's storied history, make sure to see Convict Sydney at the Hyde Park Barracks, where thousands of convicts once lived (through May) (tickets for adults $10, children $5). Fashion-forward visitors can get tickets to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, where esteemed and promising designers show their latest lines (April 8–12). Sci-fi buffs can geek out at the Fantastic Planet Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival, which opens with the heart-pumping thriller "All Superheros Must Die," which is about four superheroes, stripped of their superpowers, who band together to stop complete world annihilation. Book flights, hotels, and more on our Travel Search. Photo: Sydney St. Patrick's Day Paraade
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