You don't have to be Irish to celebrate St Patrick's Day in England and around the UK. The festivals and parades in some of Britain's biggest cities seem to get bigger every year.
St. Patrick's Day in London
London turns St. Patrick's Day in to at least a week of festivities, free performances and all kinds of Irish culture - from step dancing that rivals Riverdance to the latest crop of Irish stand-up comedians.
It all culminates in a parade and festival - on the Sunday closest to St. Patrick's Day - in Central London's big public spaces - Trafalgar Square and spilling out into Covent Garden and Leicester Square.
In 2018, the London event is a three day affair, starting on Friday, March 16, with a festival in of Irish cpmmunity and culture on and around Trafalgar Square. There will be musical entertainment, including turns from Irish stars now performing in London's West End, food stalls and a family area. The London St. Patrick's Day Parade, including marching bands from Ireland and the UK, community groups, sports cubs, schools and street theater, heads out from Piccadilly at noon on Sunday, March 18 in 2018. You can usually register to march behind your Irish county's flag. Details are posted on the London St Patrick's Day website a few weeks before the event. You'll find details of art and photography exhibitions and an Irish film festival there as well.
And it wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day (or week in London) with raising a pint or two in an authentic Irish pub. London has plenty of those Check out These top Irish pubs in London to find one you'd like. If you are looking for the genuine article, try The Tipperary, the old journo's pub on Fleet Street, London's oldest at 410 years in 2016.
St. Patrick's Day in Manchester
Manchester lays claim to the UK's biggest St. Patrick's Day Parade, with more than 70 floats, bands and marching groups snaking through the streets from the Irish World Heritage Centre on Queens Road, along Cheethan Hill Road, Corporation Street, Cross Street and Albert Square before retracing the route back to the start. The heritage center also has dozens of events - music, theater and film - throughout the month of March. Check out this year's schedule. The parade starts at noon on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day. (In 2018 that's Sunday March 11). It's all part of Manchester's two-week plus long Irish festival of music, dance, art, food, drink, comedy and family fun during the first half of March (March 2 to 18 in 2018).
Visit the Manchester Irish Festival Website for the full schedule and the latest dates.
St. Patrick's Day in Birmingham
Birmingham goes all out for St. Patrick's Day, regularly attracting as many as 100,000 people for what the city claims is the "third biggest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world," on the Saturday or Sunday of St. Patrick's Day weekend. In 2018, the parade runs from noon to 2 p.m., March 11 on Digbeth High Street, setting out from Camp Hill roundabout.
The Parade, that features at least 60 floats and more than 1,000 marchers, is the culmination of a week long Irish festival of music, dance, comedy, food and family events around Birmingham's city center and Millennium Point. And it's a multi-cultural affair. Welsh dragons, Chinese dragons and Caribbean dancers all take part.
A highlight of the Birmingham parade is the performance of the massed pipers. At the end of the parade, about 20 minutes after the last floats and walkers have completed the route, all the pipe bands come together to form a mass pipe band. The huge band of pipers then marches from Alcester Street to the Irish Club and then back to Alcester Street.
At "The Emerald Village", alongside the parade on Bradford Street, there's free live music from 2p.m. until "late".
Visit the Birmingham St. Patrick's Festival Website for full details and a parade route.
St Patrick's Day in Edinburgh
How could a festival and party city like Edinburgh not get in on the St Patrick's Day act? And, of course, being Edinburgh, they are having a festival, complete with a festival fringe. The Festival of Ireland 2018 lasts from March 16 through March 24 and includes concerts, Irish dancing and free showings of classic Irish films. A Grand Finale of Irish and Highland dancing will be held at the Jam House from 6 p.m. on March 31. Edinburgh's Irish bars will be celebrating too with live music, food and drink plus plenty of good craic. Try Malones or Biddy Mulligans where, in addition to food, live music and Guinness, they've got more than 80 different Irish whiskeys- a pretty good showing in the land of Scotch whisky. At Biddy Mulligans they are also doing a four day Irish festival of music from 7a.m. to 3 a.m. (phew!) from March 15 to 18.