The tiny island of Ireland has a size and population comparable to that of Indiana, yet each year around this time, a lot of people claim to be from there. And we're not judging: Who wouldn't want to get in on the festivities of one of the world's most entertaining national days, regardless of ancestral heritage? Here are five cities where you'll enjoy the best craic this St. Patrick's Day.
1. Dublin, Ireland
Well, obviously St. Patrick’s Day HQ lies in the holiday's spiritual home, Dublin. More than merely a parade, the Irish capital’s St. Patrick’s Day festival, which celebrates its 21st anniversary this year, is a four-day event that stretches from March 17 through 20 and includes musical events, street theater, food, and markets. The highlight, of course, is the spectacular parade. Starting at midday on the 17th, the parade features an array of dancers, colorful costumes, and floats strutting the mile and a half route from Parnell Square on the city's Northside, over the River Liffey, past Trinity College at College Green, before finally finishing at St. Patrick's Cathedral — all watched by more than 675,000 attendees. Afterward, get out your camera for some snaps as the city’s iconic buildings are lit up in green to celebrate the big day.
2. New York
New York City loves to do things bigger than anywhere else, and so it is with the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, which is the world’s biggest and dates all the way back to 1762. Expect more than two million people to crowd midtown Manhattan for the city’s grand parade on March 17. The march, which is led by a military unit and features up to 250,000 participants including bagpipers, bands, and Irish dancers, begins on Fifth Avenue and 44th Street and takes around six hours to end up at 79th and Fifth, making a stop at St. Patrick’s Cathedral along the way.
Every year, Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration provides the iconic image of a kelly green Chicago River — achieved with EPA-approved dye, thankfully. This year’s parade has added resonance for those of Irish descent as it will commemorate the centenary of Ireland’s Easter Uprising, which eventually led to the independence of the Irish Republic. Chicago’s Parade Day always falls on a Saturday, and so this year’s event will place on March 12. Beginning at Balbo and Columbus, dancers and bands take about three hours to make their way north on Columbus through Grant Park.
4. Montserrat, British West Indies
The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat – settled in the 17th century by indentured servants from Ireland and thus known as “the Emerald Island of the Caribbean” – is the only country (besides Ireland) where St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday. The island celebrates in true Caribbean style with a weeklong celebration that includes boat parties, live music, traditional games, and a treasure hunt. March 17 is especially important to Montserrat as it also marks the anniversary of the failed slave uprising of 1768, a sacrifice that is honored throughout the week’s festivities.
5. Tokyo, Japan
Japan may not seem like the likeliest place to come across hordes of green-kitted revelers toasting the health of the Irish saint, but Tokyo’s 1,500-person-strong St. Patrick’s Day parade has the distinction of being the largest such event in the whole of Asia. Started in 1992 as a way to introduce Irish culture to the Japanese people, Tokyo’s street parade has grown as steadily as the Irish community living in Tokyo has swelled. The parade, which draws a crowd of around 50,000 people, starts on the upscale shopping boulevard, Omotesando, and finished up at the epicenter of youth culture, Harajuku. Added bonus: Shopping opportunities abound durnig this event, held this year on March 20.
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