Each year, the United States celebrates Saint Patrick's Day on March 17. No matter which day of the week this popular holiday falls, different cities will celebrate with big parades, live music, Irish food, and a variety of other festivities.
Whether you're Irish or not, Saint Patrick's Day—or Saint Paddy's Day, as some call it—can be a fun time for the "wearing o' the green," watching a parade, or getting together with friends for a pint. A number of U.S. cities have formal Saint Patrick's Day celebrations, complete with marching bands and baton twirlers, while other places use the day to throw a big party. Here are some of the best places in the U.S. to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day.
The biggest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the world takes place right in New York City, bringing out about 2 million spectators for the parade and accompanying debauchery. The epicenter of the entire event is in the area around St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown, although you can find revelers dressed in green and enjoying some pints across the entire city—usually in a local Irish pub.
The parade, which features about 150,000 marchers, walks up the length of Fifth Avenue between 44th and 79th streets and always takes place on March 17. The crowds are notoriously rowdy, so if you're traveling with young kids or not in the mood for a party, you may want to steer clear of Midtown on this holiday.
The second-biggest and perhaps the most unique Saint Patrick's Day celebration in the country takes place in Chicago, when the Chicago River is dyed emerald green to celebrate the city's Irish heritage. The dyeing happens in the morning on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day and the best places to get a view of this psychedelic event are from the east side of Michigan Avenue, the west side of Columbus Drive, or upper and lower Wacker Drive between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive.
On the same day as the river coloring, there are two parades that you can see in the city. The bigger one goes directly through downtown and attracts the most spectators, although South Side residents will tell you their parade is the better one. Whichever one you decide to see, just make sure you find some local Irish bars to visit afterward.
Bringing out 750,000 excited visitors, the coastal southern city of Savannah, Georgia, holds St. Paddy's celebrations for several days culminating with the St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17. The parade route passes through the entire historic downtown district of the city and anyone can enter to be a participant in the parade—just get your most decked-out green attire ready.
Other signature events include dyeing the Forsyth Park Fountain green and accompanying food and music festivals. Plus, springtime in Savannah means warm temperatures before the humidity of summer arrives, making it the perfect weather to enjoy a couple of cool pints of Guinness.
Known for its deep-rooted Irish heritage, Boston is an obvious choice for celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The city's history is so steeped in Irish culture that even the local NBA team is called the Celtics and uses a leprechaun as its mascot. The parade is one of the biggest in the nation and usually takes place on the Sunday before St. Paddy's Day in South Boston, historically the city's most Irish neighborhood.
Washington, D.C., is another East Coast city that goes all out for St. Patrick's Day festivities. The celebration is known as the Nation's St. Patrick's Day Parade, and it includes decorated floats, local marching bands, and troupes of bagpipe-playing entertainers to get the entire Capitol region in the holiday spirit. The D.C. parade takes place on the Sunday before St. Patrick's Day, but there are smaller parades in local suburbs like Alexandria and Gaithersburg.
Fresh off the heels of Mardi Gras, the Big Easy keeps the parties going through March with a week-long celebration for St. Patrick's Day. In true New Orleans style, the holiday is celebrated with various parades hosted by different groups throughout the week, with highlights including the Irish Channel Parade and the Metairie Parade. On the day of March 17, there's a huge block party in the French Quarter that brings out the whole city.
The St. Patrick's Day festivities usually occur right around the same time as celebrations for St. Joseph's Day and Mardi Gras Indian Super Sunday, so make sure you're ready for nonstop partying if you visit the city in March. The vibe is very Mardi Gras but with far fewer crowds and cheaper hotel rates.
If you have the luck of the Irish, then maybe you'll find yourself in warm and sunny Los Angeles for Saint Patrick's Day. The City of Angels becomes the City of Leprechauns during the Saint Patrick's Day season, with events and pub crawls all around different parts of the city such as Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown LA.
One of the best parades in Southern California is in the coastal town of Hermosa Beach just south of Los Angeles, bringing out the local community as well as LA visitors on the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day. If you're willing to drive a bit further, the Southern California Irish Fest is just an hour south of Los Angeles in Irvine.