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February 23, 2012

Best Places to Get Your Green On: St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

Scottish Marching band(iStockphoto,Thinkstock)
Scottish marching band (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

St. Patrick's Day is much celebrated, but few know what exactly they're stomping up and down the streets celebrating. Here's a history lesson: Back in the 4th Century in Roman Britain, there was a saint born on March 17 named Patrick. At age 16, Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland to be a slave. After escaping his captors, he made his way back home. Years later, after becoming a bishop, he traveled back to Ireland to teach the Irish people about the Christian doctrine. Saint Patrick was held in high regard in the Irish Church, and his birthdate became an internationally celebrated holiday in his honor.

So now that you know what you're toasting to, let the green beer, four leaf clovers, and kegs and eggs begin. Here are our top seven places to celebrate St. Paddy's Day.

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Home to the infamous Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Scranton surprisingly draws in close to 150,000 attendees for its St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The day starts with mass at St. Peter's Cathedral and is followed by one of the country's largest St. Patrick's Day parades, complete with bagpipes, floats, dancers, and musicians.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia's first St. Patrick's Day parade was back in 1771, and is said to be one of the oldest on record. Today, more than 500,000 watch the parade and then continue the celebrations in the pubs of South Philly and Old Town.

Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is known throughout the South as the place to party for St. Patrick's Day. Local organizers dye every fountain in town and every beer they can find green; and 400,000 watch the three-hour parade that has been said to be one of the largest St. Paddy's Day parades in the United States.

Chicago, Illinois
Where else do they pour green vegetable dye into the river to celebrate one giant green parade? Get to the Loop area to watch as they pour the dye into the Chicago River at 10:45 a.m. and find a primo spot for the parade that starts at noon. This is a good option for families, but bring a snack, as the procession can last a few hours.

Sydney, Australia
Looking for somewhere warm and exotic to celebrate Saint Patrick? Jet over to Australia, where all those with the luck of the Irish flock to the streets of Sydney to celebrate their Irish-Australian heritage.

Boston, Massachusetts
Boston already shows its Irish pride with the Celtics, but for St. Patrick's Day its has many activities for those who want to celebrate their heritage ... or for those who just want to celebrate. For people who like history, take a tour of the Irish Heritage Trail that explores more than 300 years of the Irish history in Boston. The parade brings in 600,000 viewers and loops through South Boston filling the air with the sound of bagpipes. They also hold an Irish Film Festival, and you can find lots of celebrating at famous Irish pubs like The Black Rose and The Burren. Plus, Boston has more Irish pubs than any city besides those in Ireland, so who wouldn't want to celebrate here?

Dublin, Ireland
Ireland's capital of Dublin is without a doubt the top place to spend March 17. St. Patrick's Day in Dublin is like Mardi Gras in New Orleans; parties last for days, and the parade brings out Ireland's best marching bands and pageant companies. Also, don't miss the walking tours that lead you in the footsteps of Saint Patrick, past many ancient sites from history, including St. Patrick's Cathedral.

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Related Topics: Holidays, Events, & Festivals


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I am from Boston, I am Irish and Quebec French, I am proud of my Irish heritage and they say people from Boston and New York do not get along, but I will say that it is an outrage that New York was left off this list, oh by the way the New York Rangers will win the Stanley Cup this year

We were in New Orleans last St. Patrick's Day and stumbled upon a blast of a parade and then a party that lasted all night. Definitely worth a mention! I wish I could be back there this year. Laisser les bons temps rouler!!

Charles & Brian,
You are right, New York City host one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades, but I would venture to say that most people know about that celebration. Doesn't New York City celebrate everything in a big way? :) So to give travelers other options I wanted to highlight some other destinations that enjoy celebrating good ol' St. Patrick as well.
Thanks for your comments though. New York City is definitely an awesome place to watch the parade!

Thanks for your insight!

What about NEW YORK CITY ????????? /How could it be left off the list? The largest and oldest.

I don't know if it was intentional but NYC has a St Patricks Day Parade every year on March 17th. This year will be the 251st March on St Patricks Day. One, if not the oldest of St Patricks Parades in the country. The parade will have about 200,000 marchers led by the 69th regiment of the US Army and its Irish Wolfhound mascots. The parade starts at 44th St & 5th Ave at 11am and ends at E 86th St and 3rd Ave. For more info go to

Jennifer, Patrick was not a saint when he was born.
It is three leaf shamrocks and not four leaf clovers to represent the trinity.
The person that captured Patrick and sold him as a slave was named Niall by the way.

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