St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations Around the World

Global Citizen By Stefan Zechner March 1, 2017

St. Patrick may be the patron saint of Ireland, but St. Patrick’s Day celebrations stretch far beyond the Emerald Isle. In fact, the world’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in New York City.

And Irish emigrants have grown the tradition into an international event. We all know about Boston’s and New York’s impressive events. But where else in the world is St. Paddy’s day celebrated?

1. Auckland, New Zealand

Irish settlement in New Zealand dates back to the 1840’s when the territory was signed into British sovereignty. In fact, it’s estimated that 15-20% of New Zealanders are of Irish descent.

Thanks to its position in the Pacific, Auckland is the first major city to ring in St. Patrick’s Day each year. The city celebrates with a parade and  fleadh (traditional music and dance competition), as well as lighting the famous 1,076-foot tall Sky Tower green.

2. Montserrat

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t only a public holiday Ireland. The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat also takes a day off to commemorate Ireland’s patron saint. They even stamp visitor’s passports with a shamrock in homage to their Irish roots.

Every March 17th, islanders dress in colorful hats, dance traditional Irish jigs, and crack whips in mock defiance of their former slave masters. It’s a calypso masquerade celebrating independence and honoring their Catholic history.

3. Chicago, U.S.

New York has the biggest (over two million attendees each year) and Boston has the Irish-est (more than 21% of the Massachusetts population claims Irish ancestry), but the Windy City holds some claim over St. Paddy’s Day too.

From pub crawls and fun runs to theater shows and Celtic festivals, there are plenty of ways to celebrate. And you won’t want to miss the dyeing of the Chicago river.

4. Cabo Roig, Spain

Fancy some flamenco with your step dancing? The Spanish have a penchant for partying, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception. But you won’t find the biggest celebration in Madrid or Barcelona.

You’ll have to travel to the picturesque town of Cabo Roig on the country’s southern coast, where many Irish citizens vacation. After some time at the pubs, head to the beach for a fiesta of fireworks, karaoke, and more Guinness.

5. London, England

You could almost mistake England for Ireland if you’re in town during London’s weekend of festivities.

Colorful floats and bands march to Trafalgar Square, where comedy performances, ceilidhs (gathering with folk music, traditional dancing, and storytelling), and traditional Irish food await.

6. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Looking for a parade alternative? Buenos Aires forgoes the traditional floats for a 10-block street party full of live music, dancing, and merriment in Retiro.

It’s the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in South America, and though it’s not as crazy as Carnival, it’s a great excuse for a different kind of craic (fun).

7. Tokyo, Japan

Entering its 25th year this St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish Network of Japan’s parade leads costumed revelers, marching musicians, dancing leprechauns, and Irish Setters down the main strip of Tokyo’s Omotesando shopping district.

Once you’ve seen the parading pups, head to the nearby Yoyogi Park for corned beef, folk music, and green beer at the “I Love Ireland” festival.

8. Dublin, Ireland

How could we suggest St. Patrick’s Day destinations without mentioning Ireland? March 17th was once a solemn day of religious obligation in its home country, but since Ireland began permitting the service of alcohol in pubs during Lent in 1961, they haven’t looked back.

County Wexford, Dingle, and Cork all have their own parties, but Dublin’s four-day celebration is the country’s largest by far. Half a million people gather along the parade route as dancers, pipers, and other performers showcase their talents and traditional dress.