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Welcome to the David Victor Vector blog. This is blog that covers religious observances around the world international affairs and global business. This blog describes religious holidays for most major religions as well as raising issues dealing with globalization, international business ethics, cross-cultural business communication and political events affecting business in an integrated world economy. I look forward your discussion and commentary on these articles and subjects. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Saint Patrick's Day Parades and Celebrations Around the World

Parties and Parades  

In Ireland until very recent times, Saint Patrick's Day was reserved primarily for religious observance. Indeed, until the 1970's, pubs were officially closed and the serving of alcohol prohibited on Saint Patrick's Day.

This article is about the parades and celebrations that have come to be associated with the holiday. For information on the serious religious background to Saint Patrick's Day, please see my post Saint Patrick's Day: Some Background to the Holiday

For the "greening" campaign out of Ireland to have monuments and buildings worldwide glow green for Saint Patrick's Day, please see my post Saint Patrick's Day and the Greening of Monuments which has gone from its meager start in 2009 to over 500 greenlit landmarks 12 years later in 2022.

By contrast to Ireland, in the United StatesAustralia and elsewhere outside of Ireland, the holiday has almost always been more about pride in Irish ethnicity and indeed has become increasingly more secular over the years. While many US Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the holiday as a religious event, many other Americans - including non-Catholics -  celebrate the holiday by wearing green and coloring things green.  Such items include cookies and pancakes dyed green, beer tinted green with food coloring, and so on. Major parades are held annually in cities with large ethnic Irish populations.

In St. Patrick Day festivities, it is common to dress in green (the national color) and to use various symbols of Ireland. Some of these, such as the harp, predate Christianity but carry no pagan symbolism. Others, symbols commonly used on St. Patrick's Day such as leprechauns ironically would had been spurned by Saint Patrick himself  (who, in fact, attempted to convert people away from traditional Irish non-Christian beliefs),

That said, at least one of the symbols is directly associated with him: the Shamrock. Now a national symbol of Ireland, the three-leafed shamrock was used by Patrick to explain to early converts about the Catholic concept of the Trinity, Patrick would hold the shamrock up to the potential convert to explain how there could be one God who has three parts - Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- just as the shamrock is one plant with three leaves.

St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

In Ireland, St. Patrick's Day still remains an essentially religious holiday. Church service is an essential part of the day.

As noted above, Ireland is very much a late-comer to the festive, non-religious celebrations so common elsewhere. Those interested in promoting tourism to Ireland saw this as something of a missed opportunity and by the 1970's the sale of alcohol once banned (as it was on Sundays and all Roman Catholic holidays)
was lifted, but the holiday remained still primarily religious in nature.

In 1995, the government of Ireland itself began to promote the idea of sponsoring St. Patrick's Day parades and festivals. As Borgna Brunner explains:

struck by the strange paradox of parts of the world (the U.S., Canada, and Australia) making a bigger hoopla out of St. Patrick Day than the Emerald Isle itself—began a national campaign to transform St. Patrick's Day into an authentic Irish celebration.
Dublin's St. Patrick's Day Parade

The first formal St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland took place on March 17, 1995 in Dublin. The Dublin parade is now a major tourist event at the heart of a three-day festival. Today there are more than 30 St. Patrick's Day Parades sprinkled around the Republic of Ireland. Indeed, even Northern Ireland got into the act when (in the wake of the peace talks), Belfast began hosting a St. Patrick's Day Parade in 1998.

The floats actually float 
at Navan's Shamrock Festival
Some of the most notable of these new events in Ireland are the St. Patrick's Day Festivals held on the Beara Peninsula (divided between Counties Cork and Kerry), at Athlone, County Westmeath and on Achill Island in County Mayo, at Clane in County Kildare, and at Longford in County Longford. As a sidenote feature, a unique twist on the idea of St. Patrick's Day floats can be seen at the Shamrock Festival at Navan in County Meath.There the floats actually float -- all entries are on boats that float down the River Boyne.

Additionally, major tourist-themed parades are held. Some of the most prominent of these are at Limerick in County Limerick; at Blarney, Cobh and Cork in County Cork; Letterkenney and Donegal Town in County Donegal; at Waterford in County Waterford; at Galway and Clifden in County Galway; at Trim in County Meath, and at Thurles in North Tipperary County.
St Patrick's Day in the United States

St. Patrick's Day has from colonial times been observed as day to celebrate Irish heritage in the United States. The Irish who emigrated to the United States commonly did so to avoid persecution and to protest English rule of the island. As a result, St. Patrick's Day rather rapidly took on a political significance on top of its religious one. This reached its height in the mid-19th Century with the Great Famine, largely viewed by Irish Americans as the result of intentional British neglect of the Irish under their rule.

As the Irish became more assmilated iinto the United States and as the political situation in Ireland improved (and especially after the Republic of Ireland became independent), the parades became much less politicized and much more reflective of a pride in Irish ethnicity. The celebration of St. Patrick's Day by the mid-20th Century had become open to Irish and non-Irish alike with common slogans such as "On Saint Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish" and the like. 

What follows is a sampling of some of the different St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the United States.

New York City

New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade
The massive annual parade in New York Cityis the largest St. Patrick's parade worldwide with between 150,000 and 200,000 marchers each year. The 2002 New York St. Patrick's Day Parade honoring the "heroes of 9/11" in the wake of the terrorists attacks in September 2001 hit the record, with 300,000 marchers. Each year an estimated 2 million spectators line the route along Fifth Avenue. New York has had an official parade on Saint Patrick's Day since 1762, giving it the title of the oldest such parade in the United States, predating the birth of the Republic by 14 years. For more on the New York parade, please see:


South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade
While New York can claim the oldestofficial St. Patrick's Day Parade, Boston can actually make the claim to the first unofficial St. Patrick's Day Parade. Indeed, the St. Patrick's Day Parade of March 17, 1737 was the first parade in honor of Saint Patrick ever. That said, Boston only began to run the parade as an official annual event in 1804.  Today, the South Boston Saint Patrick's Day Parade is annually either the second or third largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States.  For more on the South Boston parade, please see:

Savannah, Georgia

The great competitor with Boston for second largest St. Patrick's Day parade is that of Savannah, Georgia.  Savannah, Georgia, with an estimated 400,000 spectators(an often more) has the second largest annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the United States… and for several year’s actually held the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the world (a major point of pride among Georgians). The earliest private parade in Savannah dates to 1813, with the public sponsorship of the parade beginning in 1824. 

Forsyth Park Fountain flows green
in Savannah, Georgia
Savannah's celebrations extend far beyond the parade. The city's famous fountains flow green on St. Patrick's Day. This tradition started in the early 1970's as an anonymous prank, but the idea caught on and now dye is dumped into the fountains on purpose every year, starting with the parade's Grand Marshal ceremonially dumping green dye into the Forsyth Park Fountain on St. Patrick's Day Eve. The city hosts a series of events, fairs and performances in celebration. For more on the Savannah activities please see:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia's St. Patrick's Day Parade
The Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day Parade vies with New York for the oldest official such parade. As with New York, Philadelphia officially began running a St. Patrick's Day parade during colonial times, with the first one taking place on March 17, 1771. Philadelphia holds its parade on the Sunday prior to St. Patrick's Day unless March 17 itself is a Sunday. The parade is famous for its many awards ranging in categories from traditional dance to different age classes of bands and so on. For more on the Philadelphia parade, please see:

Louisville. Kentucky

Louisville's "Blessing of the Beer" takes
place at the Bluegrass Brewing Company
In one of the odder celebrations, Louisville hosts on the eve of St. Patrick's Day the "Blessing of the Beer" and the "Tapping of the Keg" events. Louisville's Ancient Order of Hibernians' Father Abram J. Ryan Division is in charge of both events, The ceremonial "Blessing of the Beer" takes place at the city's Bluegrass Brewery Company and the "Tapping of the Keg" follows at O'Shea's Irish Pub an hour later.

Louisville also hosts the more traditional St. Patrick's Day celebration of a major downtown parade on St. Patrick's Day itself. For more on the two beer events, please see:

Morristown, New Jersey

One of the most remarkable parades hosted by a smaller town in the United States is that of Morristown, New Jersey. With a population of less than 19,000, Morristown has an annual turn-out of 50,000 for its Morris County St. Patrick's Day Parade.  The parade features the usual bagpipers, marching bands and floats along with a "Native Dogs of Ireland" procession.  In addition to the parade, Morristown hosts on the weekend before the parade a 5K St. Patty's Day Run.

Morristown's Saint Patrick's Day Parade 
features a "Native Dogs of Ireland" procession

Butte, Montana

Butte's St. Patrick's Day Parade
began in 1881 in the midst of the 
American Wild West
Perhaps most remarkable of the annual parades is that in ButteMontana.Butte has a population of under 34,000 and (unlike Morristown located in the heavily populated Eastern Corridor) is the only significant population center for miles around in the mostly unpopulated Western Montana… yet each year Butte’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade somehow manages to attract an annual turn-out of 30,000 people.
Butte has run the parade annually since 1882 when the town was an outpost in the American Wild West. Billing itself as "Ireland's Fifth Province," Butte has a largely Irish-American population with its next largest ethnic group consisting of Finnish-Americans. For this reason, Butte actually begins its festivities with events honoring Finnish St. Urho's Day on March 16.  In addition to the parade itself, Butte hosts several musical venues, a Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick Dinner, and (on the weekend closest to March 17) the Duggan Dolan Blarney Stone 5K Fun Run.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago River dyed green for 
St. Patrick's Day
The city of Chicago has annually dyed theChicago River green each St. Patrick’s Day since 1962. They use 100 pounds of green vegetable dye… enough to keep the river green for up to a week.

Additionally, Chicago has a South Side Saint Patrick's Day Parade. Temporarily suspended in 2010 when the organizers felt the parade had gotten too large to manage, the parade is once again regularly being offered.

San Antonio, Texas

Declaring the San Antonio River
to be the River Shannon

Not to be outdone by Chicago, San Antonio too dyes its river green... and crowds gather along the city's Riverwalk tourist zone to watch the San Antonio River officially renamed "The River Shannon" (after the longest river in Ireland).  Once the river is appropriately emerald in color, the city hosts a "parade" of barges down the river.

In addition to the river activities, San Antonio annually puts on a string of St. Patrick's Day  activities including Irish musical performances on Arneson Stage and various Irish-themed games and food in La Villita.

Tampa, Florida

Tampa's River O'Green Fest
on the Hillsborough River
Among the latest entries to the river-dying cities, Tampa began dying part of its Hillsborough River green in 2012 after electing an Irish American mayor Bob Buckhorn. The ongoing greening of the Hillsborough is part of Tampa's larger "River O'Green Fest" that features live music, feats of strength competitions, sack races and potato tosses, among other activities.

While 2012 was the first time Tampa had ever dyed its river green, the city did have a private sector precedent. A few years earlier -- 2009 -- the Tampa Attractions Association and Yacht StarShip Cruises had begun dying the city's Garrison Canal green for their own Irish recognition of the holiiday.
Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis annually dyes its main canal green. The "Greening of the Canal" has taken place since 1997. Indianapolis hosts a major parade with an accompanying Parade Tent Party with free admission for access to the entertainment stage along with  food vendors and a beer garden.

Indianapolis has dyed its canals green for St. Patrick's Day since 1997
Indianapolis also hosts a 4-Mile Shamrock Run/Walk. In the evening, Indianapolis hosts "ShamRockin' the Circle," a free concert at its Monument Circle. Finally, the city awards an "Irish Citizen of the Year" for each year on St. Patrick's Day. For more information on  the Indianapolis events, please see:http://www.indystpats.com/greening/index.htm

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans actually has three major parades and celebrations annually for St. Patrick's Day. These go along with the strong neighborhood traditions of the city.

The Irish Channel Parade centers appropriately enough on the Irish Channel Neighborhood. The events begin there on St. Patrick's Day Eve at St. Mary's Assumption Church with a Mass there, followed by a the Irish Channel Saint Patrick's Day Parade and concluding with Tracey's St. Paddy's Day Party on Magazine Street as well as Saint Patrick's Day parties in various restaurants, such as the Parasol Block Party.

Traditional "throws" in the New Orleans Downtown Parade
include Irish foods such as cabbages

On Saint Patrick's Day itself, New Orleans hosts the Downtown Irish Club Parade that runs from the Bywater area to Bourbon Street. In keeping with the New Orleans Mardi Gras custom of tossing "throws" to the crowd, participants on the various floats throw various Irish-themed items ranging from green beads and shamrocks to "Irish" food such as cabbages, carrots, onions and "moon-pies."

Other Irish parades in the New Orleans area include the Molly at the Market's Irish Parade in the French Corner, the Irish Italian Isleno Parade in St. Bernard Parish (usually in the first week of March), and the Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade in Metairie (on the week following St. Patrick's Day)

Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati hosts a month of Irish-related events sprinkled through the weeks leading up to St. Patrick's Day itself when the city opens up to its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. The events include Irish music concerts and special masses.  
The "Stealing of St. Patrick"

Perhaps the most unique event for the holiday, though, is the annual "Stealing of St. Patrick." Following mass on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day, members of Cincinnati's chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians dressed in kilts march up the steep incline to the top of Mount Adams to Immaculata Church where they remove the 6-foot (1.82 meter) statue of St. Patrick. After this, they parade the statue through the streets in a sort of mini-parade accompanied by bagpipers before returning the statue to its place. This odd tradition began with a prank in 1970 (when a formerly German parish merged with a primarily Irish one), and after that, the prank became an annual tradition.

For more on the "Stealing of St. Patrick," please see:

Rock City Illinois/Davenport, Iowa

The Quad Cities' Grand Parade
crosses the Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa

Promoted as the "only interstate St.Patrick's Day Parade in the USA," the Grand Parade in the Quad Cities region runs from Rock Island, Illinois across the Centennial Bridge over the Mississippi River into Davenport, Iowa.

The Grand Parade attracts tens of thousands of viewers along its route for over a quarter of a century to watch a range of floats, marching bands and bagpipers. 

Prizes are awarded annually for best Irish-themed and non-Irish-themed floats, best "Irish Family Walking Unit", best school group and "Most Unique Entry."

For more on the Quad Cities Saint Patrick Day festivities, please see:

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dancers at Salt Lake City's Siamsa
The Hibernian Society of Utah holds a series of major events annual in Salt Lake City. The Hibernian Society sponsors as might be expected the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade but also many other activities.

The Society sponsors a St. Patrick's Day Mass at St. Joseph the Worker Church (followed by a corned beef and cabbage meal there) and an annual Siamsa (gathering of traditional Irish entertainment -- in Gaelic Siamsa means "entertainment of the land"). The Siamsa features Irish dancers, Irish musicians and Irish food and drink. Finally, the activities conclude with the annual "Night With The Irish Poets."

O'Neill, Nebraska

O'Neill, Nebraska's annual painting
of the "World's Largest Shamrock"
The northern Nebraskan town of O'Neill proclaims itself on the sign entering the city limits as the "Irish Capital of Nebraska" and as such Saint Patrick's Day is the annual highpoint for Irish celebration. 

Each year on Saint Patrick's, the city's 3500-plus residents paint what is billed as the "World's Largest Shamrock" on its main intersection. The giant shamrock, in turn, becomes the focal point for O'Neill's St. Patrick's Day festivities featuring a large parade with a St. Patrick's Day King and Queen, a Fun-Run and culminating in a major performance by Irish dancers.

For more on the O'Neill St. Patrick's Day festivities, please see: http://www.oneillchamber.org/

New London, Wisconsin

Leprechauns annually rename
New London to New Dublin for 
the week leading to St. Patrick's Day

Each year in the week leading up to St. Patrick's Day, a group of leprechauns change the name signs entering the town from New London to New Dublin. This annual tradition of the members of the "Shamrock Club of New Dublin" initiates a week-long celebration of Irish activities that swells population of the north-central Wisconsin town of under 8000.

New London/New Dublin sponsors a week-long event called the Irish Fest. The Irish Fest features an Irish céili of traditional Irish music and dancing accompanied by Irish food.

Despite the small size of the host town, the New Dublin St. Patrick's Day Parade annually features around 125 groups featuring various floats, marching bands, bagpipers, clowns and the like.
The New Dublin Finnegan's Wake re-enactment

Arguably the most unique feature of the New Dublin St. Patrick's Day celebrations, though, is the annual Finnegan's Wake, begun as a joke in 1983 and repeated every year thereafter. This parody of the Irish classic song features a green hearse that drives through the main street with a wicker coffin. The wicker coffin is taken from the hearse and carried through the streets while periodically outs pops a mannequin of the not-so-dead Finnegan. 

For more on the New London/"New Dublin" festivities, please see:http://www.newdublin.com/

Hot Springs, Arkansas

World's shortest parade
at Hot Springs
Home to neither the oldest nor the largest parade, Hot Springs' St. Patrick's Day Parade has made the record books for the shortestparade. Every March 17, Hot Springs runs a parade along Bridge Street whose mere 98 feet (29.87 meters) -- which is in the record books (both Guinness and Ripley's Believe It Or Not) as the shortest city street. Although the parade travels less than a football field in length, it goes on for over an hour of floats, bands, musicians, leashed Irish wolfhounds and invited celebrities. 

Hot Springs Blarney Stone Kissing Contest
The world's shortest parade, however, is not all Hot Springs has to offer for St. Patrick's Day. Before the parade, the city conducts a Blarney Stone Kissing Contest. Finally, following the parade, Hot Springs then opens the town up to street dances and open-air entertainment. For more on the Hot Springs festivities, please see:

Other Cities in the United States

What follows is a list of 301 St. Patrick's Day parades in the United States for 2016. The list does not include the many St. Patrick's Day festivals or 5K runs and bar crawls elsewhere -- only parades.  There are probably more (please help me update the list. I have tried my best to keep this current (for example, adding the inaugural Sherman, Texas for 2019),  The list is divided by US region for easier identification of a parade near you.

New England (32)
  • Abington, Massachusetts 
  • Bath, Maine
  • Bennington, Vermont
  • Bondville, Vermont
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Bridgeport, Connecticut
  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts (Yarmouth)
  • Danbury, Connecticut
  • Essex, Connecticut
  • Greenwich, Connecticut
  • Hartford, Connecticut
  • Holyoke, Massachusetts
  • Lawrence, Massachusetts
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Milford, Connecticut
  • Mystic, Connecticut
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • New London, Connecticut
  • Newport, Rhode Island 
  • Norwalk, Connecticut
  • Norwich, Connecticut
  • Old Orchard Beach, Maine
  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • Portland, Maine 
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • Saint Alban's, Vermont
  • Scituate, Massachusetts 
  • Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Stamford, Connecticut
  • Waterbury, Connecticut
  • West Warwick, Rhode Island
  • Worcester, Massachusetts
Mid-Atlantic (76)
  • Albany, New York
  • Allentown, Pennsylvania 
  • Asbury Park, New Jersey
  • Atlantic City, New Jersey 
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Bay Shore, New York
  • Bayonne, New Jersey
  • Bayport-Blue Point (Sayville), New York
  • Bayridge, New York
  • Beacon, New York
  • Belmar, New Jersey 
  • Bethpage, New York (Nassau County)
  • Binghamton, New York
  • Brookhaven, New York
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Chesterton, New York
  • Conshohocken, Pennsylvania
  • Dover, Delaware
  • Dutchess County, New York
  • Eastchester, New York
  • Gaithersburg, Maryland (Greater Washington, DC)
  • Girardville, Pennsylvania
  • Glen Cove, New York (Long Island) 
  • Gloucester City, New Jersey
  • Goshen/Mid-Hudson, New York
  • Hackettstown, New Jersey
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Hoboken, New Jersey
  • Hoosick Falls, New York 
  • Keansburg, New Jersey
  • Keyport, New Jersey
  • Kingston, New York
  • Lake George, New York
  • Mamaroneck (Sound Shore), New York
  • Medford (Burlington County), New Jersey
  • Milton, Delaware
  • Montauk, New York
  • Morristown, New Jersey
  • New York, New York
  • Newark, Delaware
  • North Wildwood (Cape May), New Jersey
  • Nutley, New Jersey
  • Ocean City, Maryland
  • Old Forge, New York
  • Oswego, New York
  • Patchogue, New York 
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Pittston, Pennsylvania
  • Ringwood, New Jersey
  • Robinsville, New Jersey
  • Rochester, New York
  • Rockville Centre, New York
  • Rocky Point, New York
  • Ronkonkoma, New York
  • Rumson (Red Bank), New Jersey
  • Saint James, New York
  • Saranac Lake, New York
  • Scranton, Pennsylvania
  • Sea Isle, New Jersey
  • Somerville, New Jersey
  • South Amboy, New Jersey 
  • Springfield, Missouri 
  • Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 
  • Syracuse, New York
  • Tarrytown/Sleepy Hollow, New York
  • Trenton, New Jersey
  • Union, New Jersey
  • Utica, New York 
  • Washington, DC
  • West Orange, New Jersey
  • White Plains, New York
  • Wildwood, New Jersey
  • Williamsport, Pennsylvania
  • Wilmington, Delaware 
  • Woodbridge, New Jersey
  • York, Pennsylvania 

South (78)
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Augusta, Georgia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Biloxi, Mississippi
  • Birmingham. Alabama 
  • Cape Coral, Florida
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Conyers, Georgia
  • Cottleville, Missouri
  • Dallas, Texas 
  • Delray Beach, Florida
  • Dublin,  Georgia
  • Dublin, Texas
  • Erin/Houston County, Tennessee
  • Fayetteville, Arkansas
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Fort Smith, Arkansas
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Fredericksburg, Virginia
  • Greenville, North Carolina
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Hendersonville, North Carolina  
  • Hilton Head, South Carolina
  • Hollywood, Florida 
  • Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Huntsville, Alabama
  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Jamesport, Virginia
  • Jensen Beach, Florida
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Lake Jackson, Texas
  • Key Largo, Florida
  • Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
  • Lake Worth, Florida
  • Little Rock, Arkansas  
  • Long Beach (Gulf Coast), Mississippi
  • Louisville, Kentucky
  • Madison County (Huntsville), Alabama
  • Manassas, Virginia (Greater Washington, DC) 
  • Marco Island, Florida
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Mobile, Alabama 
  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Nag's Head, North Carolina
  • Naples, Florida
  • Nashville, Tennessee  
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Onancock, Virginia 
  • Pass Christian, Mississippi
  • Pinehurst, North Carolina
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Roanoke, Virginia
  • Rock Hill, South Carolina
  • Rolla, Missouri  
  • Saint Augustine, Florida
  • Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands
  • Saint Louis, Missouri 
  • San Antonio (Alamo), Texas
  • Savannah, Georgia
  • Shamrock, Texas
  • Sherman, Texas
  • Shreveport, Louisiana
  • Spotsylvania (Fredericksburg), Virginia
  • Spring, Texas
  • Springfield, Missouri
  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Tampa, Florida
  • Townsend, Georgia
  • Tybee Island, Georgia
  • Vero Beach, Florida
  • Waveland, Mississippi
  • West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Wilmington, North Carolina
  • Winter Park, Florida

Midwest and Great Plains (73)
  • Akron, Ohio
  • Bay City, Michigan 
  • Calvin, North Dakota
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa 
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Clare, Michigan 
  • Cleveland, Ohio 
  • Crosslake, Minnesota
  • Crown Point, Indiana
  • Davenport, Iowa
  • Deadwood, South Dakota
  • Des Moines, Iowa 
  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Dublin, Ohio
  • Dyersville, Iowa
  • Emmetsburg, Iowa
  • Erin, Wisconsin
  • Fargo-Moorhead, North Dakota
  • Fox Lake, Wisconsin
  • Gaylord, Michigan
  • Galena, Illinois
  • Grand Ledge, Michigan
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • Holland, Michigan
  • Hopkins, Minnesota
  • Huntington, West Virginia
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin
  • Lake Villa, Illinois
  • Lawrence, Kansas 
  • Ludington, Michigan
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Manhattan, Kansas
  • Manitowoc, Wisconsin
  • Maple Lake, Minnesota
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Monroe, Wisconsin
  • Muskegon, Michigan  
  • Naperville, Illinois
  • New London, Wisconsin
  • New Ulm, Minnesota
  • Omaha, Nebraska 
  • O'Neill, Nebraska
  • Oshkosh, Wisconsin
  • Palatine, Illinois
  • Pierre, South Dakota
  • Plymouth, Wisconsin
  • Port Huron, Michigan
  • Portsmouth, Ohio
  • Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
  • Racine, Wisconsin
  • River Falls, Wisconsin
  • Rock City, Illinois
  • Royal Oak (Detroit area), Michigan
  • Saint Charles, Illinois
  • Saint Paul, Minnesota  
  • Saint Peter, Minnesota
  • Saugatuck, Michigan
  • Shawnee, Kansas
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Siren, Wisconsin
  • South Bend, Indiana
  • Springfield, Illinois
  • Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
  • Toledo (Lucas County), Ohio
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Traverse City, Michigan
  • Wentzville, Missouri
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Youngstown, Ohio
West (47)
  • Anaconda, Montana
  • Bellingham, Washington
  • Billings, Montana
  • Bremerton, Washington
  • Butte, Montana
  • Cashmere, Washington 
  • Cody, Wyoming
  • Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Dublin, California
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Great Falls, Montana
  • Healdsburg, California
  • Helena, Montana
  • Henderson, Nevada
  • Heppner, Oregon
  • Hermosa Beach, California
  • Hilo, Hawaii
  • Hillsboro, Oregon
  • Honolulu (Waikiki Beach), Hawaii
  • Ketchikan, Alaska
  • Kingman (Chloride), Arizona
  • Lake Oswego, Oregon
  • Leederville, Washington
  • Long Beach, California
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Pendleton, Oregon
  • Petersburg, Alaska
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Price City, Utah
  • Ronan, Montana
  • Sacramento, California
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Sedona, Arizona 
  • Soldotna, Alaska
  • Spokane, Washington
  • Springdale, Utah
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Twin Falls, Idaho
  • Ventura, California
  • Virginia City, Nevada
  • Vista, California
If I missed your city, please forgive me... and add a note about it in the comments section if you would like to do so.

Saint Patrick's Day in Australia

Just under a third of Australians claim Irish heritage and the celebration of St. Patrick's Day has a long and very strong tradition in the country. The Irish population of Australia is closely tied to the country's founding as a penal colony of England. Beginning as early as 1791, Irish political dissenters were forcibly "transported" to Australia for speaking out against the British occupation of Ireland. While Irish opponents to English rule were sent to Australia in every year between 1791 and the end of the policy in 1867, a great number of Irish transplants came in three great waves of forced Irish transportation: the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the 1803 Irish Rising, and during the Great Famine of the 1840's with the resultant violent clashes between the Young Ireland movement and the British authorities.

Many towns and cities in Australia offer St. Patrick's Day events. Two of the most notable are those in Sydney and Brisbane.


The Sydney St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of the largest in the world outside the United States. The Sydney parade is also one of the oldest St. Patrick's Day parades outside the United States, dating to 1810. 

Sydney's St. Patrick's Day Parade is the only major such parade in the world that is entirely hosted by the Irish Community alone. The parade has themes and, following a tradition practiced in Brisbane (see below), the 2012 will have a theme of historical education. The seven themes from which entrants can choose include Ireland of the Past, 1788 (the year of the first Irish in Sydney), Convincts & Rebels, Free Settlers, the Modern Irish in Australia, Ireland of the Present, and Cultural Connections (a sort of catch-all category).

Sydney's Opera House lit up in green

In addition to the parade itself, Sydney hosts a Gaels Got Talent Contest, Bachelor of the Year Contest (of whom the 10 finalists ride on a float in the parade), and an Irish-themed Family Day in Hyde Park North which showcases the winners of the Gaels Got Talent Contest before an annual crowd of 30,000.

Finally, Sydney is famous for its annual tradition of bathing the iconic Sydney Opera House in green lights for the event. For more on the Sydney activities, please see 


Brisbane celebrates St. Patrick's Day with the 4-day Brisbane Irish Festival. The activities are highly varied ranging from an Irish Film Night to Irish sporting events to historical lectures at the state library. The city hosts music venues from those featuring Irish traditional music to those with modern performers. For example, the 2013 Irish Festival features the Irish-based Finbar Furey and Australia’s Murphy’s Pigs, and the 2012 Irish Festival featured Ireland's The Cranberries and Australia's Wolfmother, for example).

The Brisbane Parade is traditionally based on the theme of the Irish historical story, featuring floats and participants dressed as cane cutters, gold miners, teachers, widows and orphans and so on. This is a theme now adopted by the Sydney parade as well. For more on the Brisbane Irish Festival, please see

Saint Patrick's Day in England

The histories of Ireland and England are closely intertwined and, to say the least, highly complex and multi-layered. The Irish have settled there historically when Ireland was part of the United Kingdom, when leaving the newly independent Republic of Ireland for political or religious reasons, and (as notably a factor again during Ireland's current financial crisis) for economic opportunity. Attitudes in England toward celebrations of Irish ethincity have waxed and waned over the years. Currently, attitudes are at what may be their most favorable ever. In short, it is a good time to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in England.


England's largest concentration of people with Irish heritage is in the Midlands, and the highest concentration of in the Midlands is in Birmingham. As one would therefore expect, Birmingham's seven-day St. Patrick's Day Festival is the largest such event in the United Kingdom. Over the week, over 100,000 people come to the events that include Irish musical  and dance venues, comedy performances, and food throughout the city but especially concentrated around Millennium Point and the city center areas. The parade itself has over 1000 marchers, more than 60 elaborate floats, antique vehicles and children carrying the flags of the 32 counties of Ireland. In an attempt at inclusiveness, the Birmingham parade also has marchers representing the Polish, Chinese and Indian communities. 
Birmingham's St. Patrick's Day pipers

The feature, however, for which  the Birmingham St. Patrick's Day Parade is most famous is the gathering of the pipers at its conclusion. When the parade marchers have completed, all of the bagpipers who were in the parade (and this usually involves a very large number) assemble for the massing of the pipers. They then perform for the gathered crowd.  For more on the Birmingham St. Patrick's Festival, please see: 


Annually for 16 days  to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, Manchester hosts the Manchester Irish Festival. This is the most extensive Irish festival in the United Kingdom, with an enormous variety of activities.  These
Manchester Tradfest musicians
include Irish traditional and contemporary musical venues, dance performances, dinner galas, lectures on geneaology and academic subjects, contests (from Irish trivia to darts) and Irish comedy acts. The center also opens up Albert Square for four days to a Festival Community Market. 

The centerpiece of the Manchester Irish Fare, though, is its now world-famous Tradfest (for Traditional Irish music and dance) including a Battle of the Bands. Overall, the Manchester Irish Festival is far too extensive to explain in any great detail here. Indeed, the 2012 festival booklet goes on for 64 pages of activities. To look at the booklet, please seehttp://www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk/manchester_irish_festival_2012_brochure/index.html


St. Patrick's Day stage 
at Trafalgar Square, London
London's St. Patrick's Day Parade draws about 100,000 spectators annually as it wends its way from Green Park to Trafalgar Square. London held its first St. Patrick's Day Parade in 1996 and has held one each year since. While the parade itself is the main event with its musical performances, floats and marching bands, the distinguishing hallmark of the London celebration is the free open-air concert at Trafalgar Square that runs from the parade's end into the night. On stage, Irish musicians and dancers perform for the crowds while booths selling souvenirs, food and traditional arts and crafts contribute to the festive environment.  For more on the London St. Patrick's Day Parade, please see

Other English St. Patrick's Day Events

In recent years, the celebration of St. Patrick's Day has grown more and more widespread in England. While it is not possible to list all these events, it may be worthwhile to point out some of the more notable ones. These would include those at Crawley, Huddersfield, Kent, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and Nottingham.

St. Patrick's Day in Canada

The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador officially recognizes St. Patrick's Day as a provincial holiday. While there is no actual annual special event in that province, there are several elsewhere in the country.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Each year, Vancouver hosts a week-long CelticFest with both traditional and contemporary music performances. Vancouver's CelticFest is the largest such event in the country. This is accompanied throughout the week by what it calls the Celtic Village with various activity tents, wandering "royalty" dressed in costumes, and booths with food, drink, and arts and crafts. The city has also hosted a St. Patrick's Day Parade since 2004. Finally, Vancouver hosts an annual 5K St. Patrick's Day Fun Run which  serves as a fundraiser for Canadian Children's Diabetes organizations.  For more on Vancouver's CelticFest, please seehttp://www.celticfestvancouver.com/

Montreal, Quebec

Montreal St. Patrick's Day float
Canada's oldest annual St. Patrick's Day parade is that in Montreal, as befits a city whose official flag has a shamrock as one of the four symbols. Montreal held its first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in 1824, although the Irish community had been celebrating the day with a formal Saint Patrick's Day dinner since at least 1817. The city also crowns a St. Patrick's Day Queen (and two princesses). Finally special citywide masses are held in St. Gabriel's Church for the Feast of Saint Patrick and in commemoration of the deceased. For more on the Montreal St. Patrick's Day activities, please see:

Other Canadian Activities

Several Canadian cities hold St. Patrick's Day parades. Among these are Canada's capital city of Ottawa as well as Toronto, Ontario; Quebec City, Quebec and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Halifax, Nova Scotia hosts a modest parade and a substantial Irish Ceili of music and dance. Finally, Tignish in Prince Edward Island holds an annual (if fairly modestly-sized) Irish Heritage Festival for the holiday.

St. Patrick's Day Elsewhere in the World

Because the Irish diaspora is so far-flung, celebrations of St. Patrick's Day are similarly far-flung. Wherever there is a community of people of Irish heritage, it is quite possible that some sort of celebration of St. Patrick's Day will take place. That said, some of the more notable countries with St. Patrick's Day traditions not already listed above would include those in Argentina, Mexico and Montserrat.


Argentina is home to the largest Irish community in the non-English-speaking world, and the fifth largest Irish community outside of Ireland.  Between 500,000 and 1 million Argentines claim Irish heritage. The Irish who came to Argentina did so not only to escape the economic hardships under English rule but also because -- unique among the main Irish destination countries -- Argentina was a primarily Roman Catholic nation, something that especially appealed to the more religious emigrants who faced religious discrimination at home.

While Cordoba, Rosario and other Argentine cities have St. Patrick's Day gatherings at pubs, the most significant celebration is the Buenos Aires Fiesta de San Patricio.BA actually has two San Patrick's Day Parades, one centered around the Plaza San Martin in Retiro and the other (appropriately enough) centered around the Plaza Irlanda in Caballito. Unlike most parades in the English-speaking world, both BA St. Patrick's Day Parade begin in the evening.

The tamer of the two parades is the one in Caballito. The  Caballito celebration is more family-friendly and more focused on things that are actually Irish in nature. People gather at the Plaza Irlanda at roughly 6:00 PM with the parade beginning at roughly 7:00 PM. From 8:00 PM until midnight, Plaza Irlanda becomes the setting for an evening of Irish traditional dance and music performances.

Reconquista Festejo de San Patricio
Buenos Aires
The activities in Retiro, by contast, are much more of a party atmosphere. While most people dress in green and the parade has many leprechauns and other Irish themes, this parade is much more about partying and much less about things Irish per se. The parade begins at 7:00 PM and, following this, a 10-block area along Reconquista in the Retiro neighborhood is shut down to traffic until 7:00 AM. This then turns into an all-night open-air party and pub crawl that attracts roughly 50,000 people annually.

For more background to the significance of the BA events, you may wish to read a somewhat scholarly (but still interesting) article on the Irish-Argentine celebrations of Saint Patrick's Day. This is "Saint Patrick's Day in Buenos Aires: An Expression of Urban Folk Tradition," by María Inés Palleiro, Patricio Parente and Flora Delfino Kraft: http://www.irlandeses.org/0703palleiro4.htm


Mexican San Patricio
Commemorative Medal 
As with Argentina, Mexico received an influx of Irish immigrants seeking religious freedom in a primarily Roman Catholic nation. The largest wave of immigration came during the Great Famine of the 1840's and the Mexican army had an entire Irish battallion --significantly called theBatallón de San Patricio -- fighting on its side in the US-Mexican War (1846-48). There are many interesting stories related to this. For example, many of the Irish who learned to fight in this war (and there were Irish on the US and Mexican sides) returned to Ireland well-trained and battle-hardened where they led skirmishes against the British. Other stories involve how Irish on both sides who refused to fire if faced with those flying green flags or other Irish symbols. For more on this aspect of the Irish in Mexico, please see Jim Estrada's "Why the Mexicans Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day":  http://latinola.com/story.php?story=9364
While many Mexicans celebrate Saint Patrick's Day as more of a religious feast day or as a day of historical recognition of the Irish to Mexican history, several Mexcan cities do have Irish-themed events in Irish pubs. Nowhere, though, is Saint Patrick's Day more openly celebrated than in the town that bears his name: San Patricio in Jalisco state.

  Día de San Patricio parade
Melaque, Jalisco
San Patricio joins with its two neighboring towns of  Melaque and Villa Obregón its annual Fiesta del Torros y Día de San Patricio. This is a week-long celebration that concludes on March 17 each year. The three towns sponsor (as the name suggests) bullfights and parades but also rodeo events, boxing matches, folk dance performances and nightly firework displays. The streets of Melaque are home to a carnival with booths and vendors for the entire week. Religious services are held to bless the fishing fleets in Saint Patrick's name and a special mass is held on Saint Patrick's Day itself.   For more on these events, please see


Montserrat St. Paddy's Day masks
The British Oversea Territory of Montserrat recognizes Saint Patrick's Day as an official holiday, as befits the self-proclaimed "Emerald Isle of the Caribbean." While the Montserrat does not share Ireland's weather, it does share its greenness but more importantly, it shares a history. The island was founded in the 1600's by Irish refugees escaping from St. Kitts and Nevis. The Irish, welcomed by the largely African slave population, found a home at a time when many British territories were banned to them. The Irish worked as free men alongside the African slaves on Montserrat's sugar plantations and early on the two groups regularly intermarried. The result is today's unique Afro-Irish culture on Montserrat.

The Saint Patrick's Day Carnival of Montserrat last for a full week and is arguably the most distinctively unique of all Saint Patrick's Day celebrations worldwide. The islanders, as one might expect, carry shamrocks, wear green and drink plenty of Irish beer, but they also have performances of calypso, soca and steel band music in honor of Saint Patrick. Islanders also wear special masks for the day (which visitors might mistakenly be associated with Carnival in nearby Trinidad rather than St. Patrick's Day). While Montserrat does have a St. Patrick's Day Parade, the centerpiece of March 17 is actually the staged re-enactment of the St. Patrick's Day Slave Revolt that took place on the island in 1768.

Other Countries

St. Patrick's Day, as indicated before, is probably present wherever one finds significant numbers of people of Irish heritage. This list is meant to give only a taste of some of the traditions.

Copenhagen's Little Mermaid
goes green for St. Patrick's Day
The Saint Patrick's Day celebration in Copenhagen, Denmark features lighting up its iconic Little Mermaid
statue in green and then annually concludes with a three-legged charity race. Saint Patrick's Parish in Grenada annually hosts a Saint Patrick's Day Festival. Singapore annually hosts a St. Patrick's Society Ball. Japan hosts four parades, one in Kumamoto (home to the Irish author Lafcadio Hearn, whom they consider somewhat of a native son) as well as in Ise, Nagoya and Tsukuba.  There are also notable St. Patrick's Day parades in Stockholm, Sweden; Singapore, Budapest, Hungary; Valletta, Malta; Cardiff, Wales; Coatbridge, Scotland; Dubai, UAE; and Auckland, New Zealand. Several cities around the world hold organized St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawls, with particularly well-known ones in Berlin, Germany and Ljubljana, Slovenia. Finally, dozens of cities world wide hold Irish nights in their local Irish pubs and restaurants.

Closing Comments

As always, I am delighted to hear your thoughts on this. If you have any points I should add, please let me know for the future... or if you just want to say that you liked this (or not), I would love to hear from you.

Also, if you would like to share a tradition in your family or just give mention to a St. Patrick's Day parade or festivity in your hometown, please feel free to add it in the comments section.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Want To Learn More?

Borgna Brunner, "St. Patrick's Day: Until Recently, More Dallas Than Dublin -- A Short History of the Holiday":http://www.infoplease.com/spot/stpatsintro1.html

Catholic Saints.net, "Saint Patrick": http://www.stpatrick.name/

Mary Anne Cusack, Saint Patrick (from An Illustrated History of Ireland), Library Ireland: http://www.libraryireland.com/HistoryIreland/St-Patrick.php

"Patrician Power," Ireland of the Welcomes, Jan/Feb 2012, pp. 14-19.
"Saint Patrick," Catholic Online: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=89

Saint Patricks Day.com: http://stpatricksday.com/

"Saint Patrick in America/St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin," Ireland of the Welcomes, March/April 2012, pp. 14-19.
Saint Patrick's Day Parade.com: http://www.saintpatricksdayparade.com/

Clip Art Sources

New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade: Photo by Rebecca Kinsella:http://rebeccakinsella.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/stpats.jpg

Forsyth Park Fountain flows green in Savannah, Georgia:http://www.orbitz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/fountain-300x219.jpg

Butte St. Patrick's Day Parade 1881: http://www.buttecvb.com/history

Indianapolis canals dyed green: http://www.indystpats.com/greening/index.htm

Traditional "throws" in the New Orleans Downtown Parade include Irish foods such as cabbages: http://www.stpatricksdayneworleans.com/gallery.php

The Quad Cities' Grand Parade crosses the Mississippi from Illinois to Iowa:http://i2.ytimg.com/vi/9SPSWTLUo0w/mqdefault.jpg

Dancers at Salt Lake City's Siamsa:http://www.utahirishdance.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Siamsa_020.88123707_large.jpg

O'Neill, Nebraska's annual painting of the "World's Largest Shamrock":http://www.oneillchamber.org/StPats2012/Pages/7.html

Leprechauns renaming New London to New Dublin: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e4/NewDublin-leprechauns.jpg

Finnegan's Wake in New London, Wisconsin: http://www.newdublin.com/wp-content/uploads/wake-fin.jpg

Hot Springs Blarney Stone Kissing Contest: Fox16 News:http://www.fox16.com/Photo.aspx?content_id=db68412b-32c7-4269-a145-aa7ac9cf1f7e&i=2

St. Patrick's Day stage at Trafalgar Square, London:http://www.hellotravel.com/events/saint-patricks-day

Mexican San Patricio Commemorative Medal: http://latinola.com/story.php?story=9364

San Patricio parade. Melaque, Jalisco: http://www.tomzap.com/patrick2.html


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