The annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, held in downtown Chicago, Illinois, is attended by over three hundred thousand spectators every single year on Saint Patrick’s Day.
Perhaps the biggest attraction in downtown Chicago on Saint Patrick’s day is the Chicago River—which gets dyed a bright Clover-green for the holiday! The Windy City has been practicing this unusual tradition since the 1960s. You can even take a cruise down the emerald-colored river on one of the many river boat tours available in the city. Irish Cabbage and Corned Beef are served on the boat to complete your Saint Patrick’s Day experience.
Philadelphia was one of the first American cities to publicly celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. The historic Declaration-signing city held it’s first Saint Patrick’s Day parade before the Revolutionary War, all the way back in 1771! To this day, the Philadelphia Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, held in historic downtown Philly, attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators every year.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco holds a huge festival every year, in addition to it’s Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade begins at the corner of 2nd and Market Streets, and continues on to City Hall. The Festival is held at the San Francisco Civic Center Plaza on Grove Street, from Polk to Larkin Street in the downtown area. The events are free to attend.
Boston has Philadelphia beaten by over three decades, having held it’s first Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the year 1737! Massachusetts has the added benefit of having the largest percentage of Irish-Americans in the country, which also gives them one of the highest attendances at their Saint Patrick’s Day parade, with over six hundred thousand spectators turning out for the annual event. If it’s Saint Patrick’s Day spirit you’re looking for, it’s hard to beat Boston. While you’re there, be sure to check out the Irish Heritage Trail, as well as the plethora of Irish Restaurants and Pubs the city is known for.
Live in the south? You may want to try attending Savannah’s Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade. This historic southern city rather surprisingly boasts the largest parade attendance in the world, outside of New York City. More than seven hundred thousand spectators line the streets of the city every year to watch the Saint Patrick’s Day event.
New York City
New York City is home to the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the world, first held way back in the year 1762. The city’s Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is held on 5th Avenue in downtown Manhattan every year on Saint Patrick’s Day. The parade conveniently and appropriately passes right in front of the famous Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in downtown Manhattan. In shocking contrast to the other cities on this list, over one hundred and fifty thousand people march in New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade every year!
In Michigan, the annual Michigan Saint Patrick’s Day Party is held at the Fricano Event Center in downtown Muskegon, Michigan. It features live Irish music and dance, Corned Beef and other Irish foods, in addition to great Pizza and a silent auction. Admission is $6.00 for adults, and the event is held on March 11th & 12th. The festivities begin at 5:30 pm and continue until Midnight.
Upstate New York
For those living farther North in New York State, the Dutchess County Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is held in Wappinger’s Falls, New York. The parade begins at 1:00 pm on the first Saturday in March at Saint Mary’s Cathedral. Over three thousand people march in the parade, and over ten thousand spectators come to watch the event every year.
The Shamrock Fest at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. is held every year on Saint Patrick’s Day. The event features live music and entertainment, and is attended by thousands of people every year. Admission is $24.99 for adults. VIP tickets can be had for $84.99. Those bringing a group can buy tickets at a discounted rate. See shamrockfest.com for more details.
The North Texas Irish Festival is held in Fair Park, Texas on March 4th-6th. The event’s main attraction is it’s live Irish music. They take great pride in attracting the highest levels of music & dance quality and talent of any Irish Music Festival in the United States. They also have a children’s fair to keep the kids entertained. More details can be had at the event’s website, NTIF.org.
There are hundreds more parades and festivals held every year in the United States, far, far more than we could ever list here. If you live to far from any of these locations to attend, be sure to search online and find an event near you! Here’s a link to a list of even more events to get you started. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!