The best St Patrick's Day parades from around the world

Elaborate St Patrick’s day celebrations and parades are held all over the world in honour of the beloved holiday, whether the country’s inhabitants are Irish or not – and this year is no different. 

With countries and cities gearing up to celebrate the day of Irish heritage, 2018’s St Patrick’s Day parades, festivals, celebrations, green beer and green landmark’s are expected to be a day to remember. 

These are five of the biggest and best St. Patrick’s Day parades.

New York City 

The city hosts the world’s largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade – and has done so since 1762, 14 years before the United States signed the Declaration of Independence.

The first parade was on March 17, 1762, and since then the world’s oldest and largest celebration has only gotten bigger and better.

Now the parade annually draws over two million spectators to join in on the fun.

The parade starts at 11am on 44th Street and 5th Avenue and proceeds up to 79th Street, passing St Patrick’s Cathedral on the way, where the parade is reviewed from the steps by His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

While no cars or floats are permitted in the parade, bagpipes, bands, dancers and thousands of participants are.

This year, 200,000 participants are expected to walk in the parade, which lasts for roughly six hours.

St Patrick’s Day parade in New York City (Getty)

For those in New York City, attending the parade is worth the experience – but it does get quite crowded. Additionally, green hats and other “costume” dress are not permitted in the reviewing stands – nor is alcohol, as outlined in New York City open container laws.

The Empire State Building will be lit green for the day. The parade is free to attend.


Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations may not be as big as New York City’s – but they are much longer.

The city celebrates the public holiday with a week of celebrations which include boat races, street and music performances, the Irish Beer & Whisky Festival, and, of course, the parade.


Dublin has some of the most extravagant celebrations for St Patrick’s Day (Getty)

This year’s celebrations start on March 16 and will run through March 19 – with the parade happening on March 17.

And with an audience of half a million, the parade in the Irish homeland, which proceeds from Parnell Square to St Patrick’s Cathedral, is a sight to behold.

This year’s theme is “Home is Where the Heart is.”


In London, St Patrick’s Day celebrations take place the weekend of March 17, usually starting the 19th and ending the 18th.


London’s St Patrick’s Day parade will happen on March 18 (Getty)

This year, the parade will be on March 18. Featuring floats and dancing, the procession starts at noon, making its way down Piccadilly on a 1.5-mile (2.4km) route. The parade passes some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including The Ritz, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square.

There is then an all-day festival in Trafalgar Square – which features food, fashion, music, and drinks.

It is free to attend


While certainly not the biggest celebration, the city of Chicago takes their dedication to the holiday a step further than most by dyeing the Chicago River green.

The tradition started in 1961 when the chairman of the parade at the time saw green dye in the river. At the time, green dye signalled illegal pollution.

But taking something negative and turning it into a positive, the parade chairman got the idea to turn the river green in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day.


The Chicago River is annually dyed green for the holiday (Getty)

Now, the start to Saint Patrick’s day is marked with the dyeing of the river, which draws 450,000 people, and then continues to the parade which starts at noon, where more spectators arrive to join in on the celebrations.

The parade lasts for three hours and follows a route from Columbus Drive through Grant Park.

Both events are free to attend.


Known as the “Emerald Isle” of the Caribbean, Montserrat is the only other place outside of Ireland where St Patrick’s Day is considered a public holiday.

Irish descendants make up most of the inhabitants of the island located in the British West Indies.

The day is commemorated with a 10-day festival, which includes festivities such as a Kite Festival and a St Patrick’s Day dinner.

Saint Patrick’s Day is also the anniversary of the country’s first slave uprising, that took place in 1768, which adds African and Caribbean festivities to the day of celebration.

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the slave uprising, so the 2018 celebration is especially important.  

While there is no parade, the country’s celebrations will centre around a reconstructed slave village where attendees can buy traditional food or participate in traditional games and dances.

As with every St Patrick’s Day, this year’s celebration will feature hundreds of landmarks lit green in what is expected to be the world’s largest Global Greening ever. 

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