Paris might lag considerably behind Dublin or New York when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but March 17th is still a fun and lively date on the Parisian calendar. English-speaking residents and French locals alike flock to the city's numerous Irish pubs to raise a toast to the man responsible for green Guinness and some of the world's liveliest street parades.
In 2020, a special St Paddy's day parade is even on the menu, when it's been absent in years past. Mostly free of the cliches that sometimes characterized it in the past, it's feted by the city's increasingly large Irish community, giving it a degree of authenticity.
Whatever your tastes (and whether you choose to indulge in Guinness or enjoy the occasion without partaking of any alcohol), March 17th should not pass you by without some form of celebration. Paris has plenty on offer to ensure you have a Lá Fhéile Phádraig (Happy St. Patrick's Day).
Head to an Authentic Irish Pub
For many, March 17th is synonymous with Irish pub culture, so it's not surprising that most of the St. Patrick's Day action takes place at a table or terrace at one of Paris' numerous Irish pubs.
These watering holes make wonderful spots to celebrate St. Paddy's in the city of lights, and are generally frequented by expats, as well as anyone attracted by the laid-back, welcoming atmosphere often lacking in certain traditional Parisian bars and brasseries.
Regular bars will also be jumping on the Paddy’s Day bandwagon, offering specials to pull the crowds, but are best avoided in favor of an Irish equivalent, where you will be guaranteed craic, sport agus spraoi (fun and games).
We recommend pubs including Corcoran's, which has eight locations around Paris (including at St. Michel in the Latin Quarter, Bastille and nearby the Sacré Coeur in Montmartre.) The Galway Irish Pub is also a good choice. See our full guide to the best Irish pubs in Paris for more details and directions.
Some tips for enjoying your St. Paddy's Day pub outing this year
March 17th falls on a Tuesday this year. Nightlife spots celebrating St Paddy's are likely going to be putting on some lively parties and special events like live music. It may be mellower, however, than on years when the holiday falls on a Friday or weekend.
Be prepared for the crowds. Even though the holiday falls on a weekday in 2020, you may still have to battle for a spot inside at the liveliest bars and other venues! Arrive early if you want to secure a table at a pub playing live music or staging other special events for the holiday.
Drinking in Irish pubs is an expensive pastime, even by Paris standards, so if you’re fond of the black stuff, be prepared to fork out up to 15 or 20 euros for a pint of Guinness. Certain establishments offer special deals for March 17th, though: you may just get lucky!
Listen to Live Music at the Irish Cultural Center
Every year, the Irish Cultural Center (Centre Culturel Irlandais) hosts a lively festival in honor of St Patrick's Day, with live music, performances and dancing representing the most-attended events.
In 2020, you can enjoy spirited performances of traditional music and other events at the center during the annual St Patrick's Day Festival, held this year from Friday, March 13 through Tuesday, March 17. Here are highlights from the program:
Friday, March 13, 7:30 pm: A live concert from Kíla, an eight-member traditional Irish band inspired by numerous musical infliuences. Tickets are €20 (standing places only) and reservations are strongly recommended.
Sunday March 15, noon to 4:30 pm: Take in a live show from Cúig, a five-piece band from the North of Ireland. At 3:30 pm, the Lords of Strut will again take to the streets outside the Irish Cultural Centre.
7.30pm: See another musical performance from Cuig. Tickets cost €18 (€15 for students) and reservations are recommended.
Tuesday March 17, 7:30 pm: See a lively musical performance from Ensemble Eriu, a group that draws on numerous influences to perform traditional Irish music principally from West Ireland and North County Clare. Tickets cost €18 (€15 for students and unemployed) and we recommend making reservations.
For more information on this year's events at the Cultural Centre, visit the official website.
Enjoy a Parade, Facepainting and Other Family Activities
In addition to hosting live music on St. Patrick's, The Irish Cultural Centre has also planned a series of events designed for families and children as part of its weekend festival this year. The best part? Entry is free for all!
Saturday, March 14 from 11:30 am to 4:30pm: This daytime gala may be ideal for an outing with the family. At 12 pm, traditional Irish ensemble Kila will perform a concert in the courtyard, followed by the departure of a special St Paddy's Parade organised by Irish in France at 1:00 pm.
Finally, at 3:30 pm, enjoy a street performance from traditional dance group, the Lords of Strut. There's also face-painting for kids between 11 am and 3 pm on Saturday.
Dance the (Green) Night Away at a Pub
Feel like getting your dancing shoes on? The Hide Pub-Club in central Paris is hosting an all-night party for St. Paddy's on Tuesday the 17th, featuring several DJS spinning different styles of music across two different dance floors.
Also enjoy Happy Hour-priced drinks for the occasion: a pint of beer is 3 euros, while mojitos are going for 5 euros on pitchers of beer are priced at 10 euros.
Have a Family-Friendly St. Paddy's at Disneyland Paris
If, despite all this, you're still hankering after a real St. Patrick's Day parade, then there's nothing for it but to get yourself over to Disneyland Paris. It's located less than an hour outside of Paris and is easily accessible by the RER A commuter line train.
The kitschies — and arguably most fun — of all St. Paddy's Day parades awaits you at the beloved amusement park. Bask in the vision of green-clad Disney characters, Irish dancers, face painters and a dazzling green fireworks display to finish the evening in bright cheer.
This is a great outing for the whole family, and another good choice for revelers who want to celebrate the occasion while steering clear of alcohol-fueled events.