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St Patrick's Day in the U.S. - An Insider's Guide

St Patrick's Day

The U.S. hosts some of the biggest St Patrick’s Day (or St Patty’s Day as the Americans often call it) celebrations in the world. It’s barely a surprise since there are nearly seven times the number of Americans claiming Irish heritage than the population of Ireland itself! 

But aside from the well-known parties and parades, we want to shine a light on the lesser-known events so you can celebrate like a true local. From the cool to the quirky, here are some of the alternative ways our cousins from across the pond mark the occasion…



On St Patrick’s Day, the number of pints of Guinness consumed around the world more than doubles. But while we usually associate the black stuff with St Patrick’s Day boozing, in America you’re more likely to be served a pint of green-dyed beer! Drinking this emerald concoction has been a tradition for years now, but for those who prefer to toast the occasion with non-luminous liquids, the Harpoon Brewery in Boston hosts an excellent alternative. Their annual St Patrick’s Day festival features live Irish rock and roll, craft beers, homemade pretzels, and even free non-alcoholic drinks for designated drivers. Oh, and not a glass of green beer in sight!



. At their St Patrick’s Extravaganza they give out free Irish stew, shepherd’s pie and not forgetting plenty of potatoes! They even hold their own Irish Olympics, including cabbage bowling, Guinness relay races, and potato decorating competitions. Where do we sign up for next year’s games?!



New York not only holds the record for hosting the largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world, but also the oldest, with the first one founded way back the 1760s. But to bypass the busy Manhattan streets, catch the metro downtown for the alternative Brooklyn option. Unlike the bigger parade, the Brooklyn organisers encourage everyone—neighbours, bands, and dancers—to participate too, giving it a friendly, sociable vibe. Or, for an even more intimate affair, Arkansas hosts the shortest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world, which stretches just 98 feet!



 who take the celebrations to the next level by dying their river green. 400,000 people gather on the Saturday before St Patrick’s Day to watch the transformation, but if you want to catch it in its most vibrant form, make sure to get there quick as it only remains green for a few hours.

 who host a ‘17 Days of St Patrick’, with some of the best Irish-inspired music, food, and drink in town. Highlights include a whiskey dinner, Guinness glass engraving, and proper Irish music sessions.


Dress up

And finally, we can’t forget about the other key element that makes St Patrick’s Day the colourful affair it is – the garms. 


So there you have it! There’s no need to follow the crowds this St Patrick’s Day, or any other day for that matter. There are always lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered wherever or whenever you travel, and we can help you find them…

, and enjoy St Patrick's Day!

Tagged in:

  • Chicago
  • New Orleans
  • City and shopping breaks
  • New York
  • Events
  • Travel tastes
  • Travel tips
  • USA
  • Boston
  • Off the beaten track
20 Jun 2016 | Virgin Holidays


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