St Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world
St Patrick, the founder of Christianity in Ireland, is also the country’s primary patron saint. St Patrick’s Day, on 17 March, marks the anniversary of his death in 461AD and is now a date celebrated around the world. It brings Irish culture to life in diverse and far flung locations, from Perth, to New York, to Birmingham, UK. Across the globe, parties, parades and festivals celebrate Irish traditions with some of the festivities going on for weeks!
Susie Kearley is a British freelance writer and journalist, working for magazines, newspapers, and book publishers around the world. She does a lot of British travelling in her tiny Freedom caravan
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In London, the date is marked by three days of walking tours, treasure trails, art exhibitions, and talks in City Hall. Music and poetry are performed on the London Underground. Screenings of Irish films bring new talent to the fore. There’s a grand parade through central London and a free festival finale in Trafalgar Square on 19 March. The events celebrate Irish culture, cuisine, dance, music and comedy, and for those who fancy something a bit posh, there’s a ‘black tie’ Festival Ball!
In Ireland itself, the St Patrick’s Festival takes place in Dublin over four days, with a huge parade on 17 March, as well as live performances, a Festival Céilí, open air cinema, talks, and storytelling. There’s a food fair, a prawn festival, and you can ‘Walk in the Footsteps of St Patrick’ on a guided tour. Enjoy theatre, music, poetry, and the ‘Festival Big Day Out’ with a carnival and street performers. There are crafts, workshops, and Irish language activities. ‘Greening the City’ is a spectacular experience not to be missed: at 6pm every night, green lights turn the historic buildings into a beautiful shade of Emerald!
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Argentina celebrates St Patrick’s Day with a festival and parade in Buenos Aires, featuring elves, fairies, bag pipers and Irish dancers, all bringing Irish history, tradition and culture to life. The street party continues after the parade ends with Irish dance groups, live music, traditional food and Irish brews. Those still in the festival spirit can continue the celebrations into the night at the easily accessible local bars.
In Hawaii, 800 revellers dance through the Waikiki streets with hula hoops and traditional Irish costumes. The party starts at Murphy’s Bar, where the Irish Block Party has been dubbed ‘the biggest St. Patrick’s Celebration in the entire Pacific’. There’s live music, food, DJs, dancing, and an oyster bar. The parade begins at Fort DeRussy and ends at Kapiolani Park, where celebrations continue. If you’re feeling energetic, you can participate in a 5km run the following day!
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In Perth, Australia, there’s a St Patrick’s Day Family Fun Day and Street Parade on 12 March. This is a day for everyone with a fantastic mix of entertainment including live music, games, food stalls, Irish music and dance. To top it all off there’s a family zone hosting a bouncy castle, magicians, and even an obstacle course!
In Savannah, USA, the festivities begin with the ‘greening’ of the city’s fountains on 10 March. Then there’s a lively programme of events including a heritage parade, a ‘Shamrock Run’, music concerts, dancing, a charity bar crawl, and the ‘Shamrock Festival & Oyster Roast’.
The official St Patrick’s Day Festival runs from 16 – 18 March, with live entertainment, art, traditional cuisine and a food court. The street parade takes place on 17 March and the programme concludes with the St. Patrick’s Day Fire Ball on 18 March.
Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Six, courtesy of Savannah.com
On the Caribbean island of Montserrat, 17 March is a national holiday marking the slave revolt of 1768. A ten day celebration of the island’s Irish heritage begins with an Opening Ceremony at Heritage Village, Salem, on 10 March. There are plenty of activities to enjoy over the next ten days such as musical performances, dinners, and dance parties. You can take in some culture too with a fashion show and cultural pageant or get moving with a community run!
Birmingham hosted Britain’s first St Patrick’s Day parade over 50 years ago. There’s an annual launch night on 3 March, followed by 11 days of events and celebrations culminating in a mesmerising street parade on 13 March. Enjoy Irish music and dance, the Emerald Village, food stalls, and children’s entertainment. If this wasn’t enough, the city celebrates its diversity by adding the likes of Caribbean dancers and Welsh dragons to the bill.
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Around the world!
As you can see, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world in a variety of unique and amazing ways. The largest parade of its kind can be found in New York while Shanghai’s annual parade is led by a Chinese dragon. This global celebration stretches from Chicago to Seoul with parties, parades, carnivals and each city bringing something different to the occasion.