IT'S EASY BEING GREEN
You don't have to go to Ireland to enjoy this holiday. While many holidays encourage us to stay home and spend time with family, St. Patrick's Day is all about going out. Whether you prefer hitting the bars or attending a parade, there are loads of good reasons to get out and celebrate America's Irish heritage in every state, so here are our favorite events happening in each.
This festive Gulf Coast town is no stranger to parades, and their St. Patrick's Day parade proceeds through downtown at 11 a.m. on March 17 following a morning Mass. But the city's most extensive schedule for holiday fun happens at O'Daly's Irish Pub, where for $25, participants can go from the keg 'n' eggs breakfast from 6 a.m. to the live bands playing past midnight.
Alaska doesn't have much in the way of St. Patrick's Day parades, but the bars in downtown Anchorage make for lively places to spend the holiday anyway. Highlights include the food and drink specials, a downtown pub crawl, as well as the roving dancers and drum-and-pipe bands scheduled to stop by such Irish establishments like McGinley's, Reilly's, and Humpy's Alaskan Alehouse.
Arizona's biggest city hosts the state's biggest St. Patrick's Day celebration, complete with a parade through downtown with bagpipers, marching bands, Irish dancers, and other performers, followed by a fair at the Irish Cultural Center. The fair boasts three stages for live music, Irish step-dancing lessons, and a VIP lounge hosting a statewide Irish Red Craft Beer competition.
City: Hot Springs
Hot Springs' Bridge Street Parade on March 17 has the unique honor of being the world's shortest St. Patrick's Day parade, with a route lasting only 98-feet, packed full of leprechauns and Elvis impersonators. This year Jon Heder, aka Napoleon Dynamite, will be the parade's official starter, while Grand Funk Railroad and Morris Day & The Time will provide tunes for the night before and immediately after the parade, respectively.
City: San Diego
The largest St. Patrick's Day parade west of the Mississippi occurs in sunny San Diego, where more than 30,000 amass to see 150-plus parade entries commemorate Irish culture. The Gaslamp Quarter nearby hosts the 21-and-older San Diego shamROCK festival for a steep admittance fee ($40-$80), but frugal revelers can instead head to Balboa Park before the parade for a flag raising ceremony, or after for a gathering of food vendors, live entertainment, and Irish brews.
Denver's St. Patrick's Day parade is the city's largest throughout the year, and one of the most well-attended events for the holiday west of the Mississippi. More than 10,000 participants will walk the route through downtown and ending beside Coors Field for the parade this March 17.
City: New Haven
Connecticut's largest single-day spectator event is New Haven's annual St. Paddy's Day Parade on March 11, put on outside the State Capitol since the mid-1950s. The parade features more than 3,000 marchers and musical units paying tribute to Irish heritage as well as a host of other cultures. For $15, attendees also get access to a breakfast buffet and a shuttle to the parade from Dunn's Pub in nearby Hamden.
The Irish Culture Club of Delaware holds its annual St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 10, just so locals can still attend the larger events in Boston and New York a week later. Bands and dance groups perform briefly at the parade's end, where there will also be a tent set up for the traditional "Hooley," or party, featuring commemorative beer mugs with free refills.
City: Delray Beach
Celebrate Irish pride Florida-style in Delray Beach, which hosts the annual South Florida parade on March 17, with an accompanying Irish music festival occurring at the same time as well as the night before. Kids and adults can also start off their St. Patrick's Day with a fun run whose proceeds go to a nonprofit assisting veterans, first responders, and children.
March is one of the most popular times to visit this charming Southern city precisely because it holds festivities throughout the month for St. Patrick's Day, with even the city fountains spouting green. The world's third largest parade in honor of the holiday kicks off March 17, accompanied by a three-day festival featuring live music, food, giveaways, and interactive artist exhibits.
Several miles removed from the family-friendly parade in Waikiki, Murphy's Bar & Grill boasts a more adult-oriented atmosphere for the "grandest St. Patrick's Day celebration in the Pacific." There will be food and beverage booths, face-painting, storytelling, crafts, and starting at 5 p.m., an outdoor block party with dancing and live DJs.
Runners come decked out in green to compete for the award of best-dressed Leprechaun at Boise's St. Patrick's Day Fun Run, which offers several course options for different skill levels. The event routes proceeds along the Boise River Greenbelt before ending with post-race munchies provided by the Treasure Valley Dieticians.
Chicago's annual St. Patrick's Day parade features marching bands, floats, and a St. Patrick's Day queen to represent the Irish community. The celebration is perhaps best known for the dyeing of the Chicago River, which is turned a brilliant green "identical to the greens of Ireland." Always held on a Saturday, this year the parade falls on March 17.
Downtown Indianapolis' St. Patrick's Day Celebration begins on March 15 with the "Greening of the Canal." The town's emerald waterways are then just festive enough for the next day's parade and accompanying block party, where there will be live music, food trucks, giveaways from event host the Hoosier Lottery, and an award given for Irish citizen of the year.
City: Davenport/Quad Cities
The Quad Cities' Grand Parade -- the nation's only bi-state St. Patrick's Day parade -- actually begins in Illinois but soon proceeds across the Mississippi River to end in Davenport for a post-parade bash where trophies are presented to the parade winners. The parade will feature the usual marching bands, decorated floats, and novelty entries, plus walking units composed of Irish extended families.
Celebrate March Madness and St. Patrick's Day together at Wichita Brewing Company's four-day tailgating party from March 14-17, held just outside the INTRUST Bank Arena where the NCAA Men's Basketball championship will be played. Guests can hear live music throughout the day, watch basketball on outdoor TVs, play lawn-games like cornhole, or enjoy wood-fired pizzas and other specialties from local food trucks.
On March 17, downtown Lexington has a whole day of Irish-themed festivities planned, starting with the 3K Shamrock Shuffle at 8 a.m. to benefit the local Habitat for Humanity. That's followed by a festival featuring pipe bands, dancers, and the traditional "Blessing of the Keg" before the requisite St. Patrick's Day parade begins at 1 p.m.
City: New Orleans
A great place for free fun, New Orleans knows how to throw a holiday party. So it's only natural that the South's largest port of entry for Irish immigrants holds multiple activities the week of St. Patrick's Day. The Irish Club parade along with a host of street parties offering corn beef hash and green beer clog the streets on St. Patrick's Day. An added bonus in the Crescent City this time of year: There are also numerous festivities celebrating St. Joseph's Day (March 19).
Now one of Portland's most popular seasonal traditions, the Paddy's Day Plunge sees dozens of fearless participants wade into the ice-cold waters off East End Beach at 5:30 a.m. on March 17, raising funds for the Portland Firefighters Children's Burn Foundation. Swimmers are rewarded afterward with a complimentary Irish breakfast and live auction at Rí Rá's Irish Pub.
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day a week early at Annapolis' Irish Weekend, which begins with the ticketed Hooly ($75) at 6 p.m. on March 10, complete with dinner, live entertainment and fresh-brewed Irish coffees. The next day's St. Patrick's Day parade is free to attend and features participants from at least three countries and 15 different states.
Beantown is one of the first cities to come to mind when Americans think about St. Patrick's Day -- and for good reason. More than 20 percent of its residents claim Irish heritage, so it's no wonder the city goes all out for the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade. This year it will be held on March 18, featuring festive costumes, music, food, and floats.
City: Grand Rapids
Irish on Ionia, Michigan's biggest St. Patrick's Day party, starts early at 7 a.m. on the holiday and goes until at least 10 p.m., featuring a buffet-style beer breakfast, Irish street food, Celtic dancers, and three stages of live music to keep guests entertained the whole day. Admission for the 21-and-over event costs $25 per person.
No matter the oft-frigid weather, Minneapolis holds its St. Patrick's Day parade and associated celebrations every year on March 17, with a volunteer organization devoted to funding the whole thing through beads and buttons sales. The 50th annual parade will feature floats and marchers before the ensuing Blarney Blast, where awards are given for "Ms. Blarney" and, for kids, "wee leprechaun."
The emphasis is on Gulf Coast rather than Irish cuisine at Biloxi's annual Grillin' on the Green on March 17, where guests enjoy delicious spoils of the big barbecue competition like ribs, brisket, and grilled oysters for $5 a plate. There will also be live entertainment and arts & crafts vendors operating right on the city's scenic waterfront.
City: Kansas City
The traditional Kansas City St. Patrick's Day festivities kick off March 10 with the Snake Saturday Parade, a local pastime incorporating carnival rides and cook-offs in the service of local charities. The next Saturday, the St. Patrick's Day Parade is led by a lone bagpiper and features some of the nation's most impressive floats, within walking distance to some of the city's many Irish pubs.
Butte claims to be America's most Irish city per capita, so naturally the town of 35,000 will put on a memorable parade this March 17, with an expected attendance rate to rival the population. The parade runs through uptown Butte from noon to 1 p.m., and is immediately followed by a party at the intersection of Main and Galena with food vendors and live Celtic music.
The self-proclaimed "Irish Capital of Nebraska," the town of O'Neill's big claim to fame is the world's largest shamrock, painted over the intersection of two major highways, which gets a fresh coat of paint for the annual St. Patrick's Day celebration starting March 14. The town's 4,000-plus population briefly doubles for the event, which also includes a grand parade on March 17, and a Green Eggs and Ham breakfast for children.
City: Virginia City
Of course Las Vegas has no shortage of Irish pub parties and casino-set parades, but for a more unusual celebration, visit remote Virginia City's Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry on March 17. Attendees can march in the parade, participate in a pub crawl, wear their greenest garb for the costume contest, and, of course, sample the culinary specialty of bull testes in every imaginable preparation.
For a $40 entry fee, runners in Dover's Run Before You Crawl 5K are rewarded with a plethora of free food samples like Irish stew and Reuben sliders and prize giveaways at a pub crawl immediately afterwards. Visitors can also choose to attend just the pub crawl ($20) or just the 5K run ($25, or $10 for children).
On March 11, the coastal town of Rumson hosts a relatively new parade that's already tripled in attendance in just six years, with progressively more people coming to see the march of bagpipers, classic cars, Irish step dancers, veterans groups, and more.
As many as 100 hot air balloons of all colors, shapes, and sizes will be floating in the air above Belen Eagle Park this March 16-18 for the annual St. Patrick's Day Balloon Rallye, the state's second-largest balloon rally. Beyond the shamrock-shaped balloon, the annual tradition also features skydiving, food vendors, prize giveaways, and free parking.
City: New York
The Niagara Falls may turn green on the other end of the state, but New York City wins out for being home to the first ever St. Paddy's Day parade, held in 1762. Today the world's "oldest, biggest, and best" St. Patrick's celebration is much larger, with roughly 200,000 people expected to parade up Fifth Avenue on March 17.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center adopts a new color for its annual Green Water Revival this March 17, when the onsite rapids turn as vibrant and verdant as a four-leaf clover at 1 p.m. Participants in the 5K Trail Run at 10 a.m. are doused with green dye as well, before brass and rock bands begin playing on the River Jam stage.
The Fargo-Moorhead St. Patrick's Day Parade is a seasonal tradition in the Red River Valley that encourages local Irish "clans" to enter their own decked-out vehicles in the lineup of 100-plus floats marching through downtown Fargo on March 17. Many give away candy and other treats for young spectators, while the Heather and Thistle Bagpipes bring the traditional Celtic tunes.
Cleveland knows how to throw an excellent St. Paddy's Day bash. The parade is among the oldest celebrations in the state of Ohio and is put on every year by 28 local Irish organizations. This year, spectators can see roughly 10,000 participants march through the streets in festive garb starting at 1:04 p.m. precisely on St. Patrick's Day.
Even statues of local legislator Will Rogers will be decked out in festive green garb for Claremore's St. Paddy's Day Party this March 16, for which the college town near Tulsa goes all out. The event starts with an Irish lunch of bangers and mash at the Claremore Progress parking lot before proceeding to Main Street Tavern for beer, whiskey, Irish bands, and dancing demonstrations.
Portland lives up to its hip reputation with a host of unique events throughout St. Patrick's Day weekend, the most noteworthy of which is probably the Shamrock Run the morning of March 18. Oregon's largest running event includes a half-marathon race, as well as easier routes for all fitness levels, ending with a celebration featuring live music, a beer garden, and hot Irish soup.
Philadelphia's famed parade is nearly as old as New York's, dating back to 1771. On March 11, the traditional festivities begin with a commemorative mass at 9:15 a.m., before the parade starts at noon, with awards given to the most creative and spirited float displays. For the second year, the parade will also be broadcast on television for those who can't make it in-person.
Pipe bands, drum corps, clown units, historical re-enactors, and myriad other local organizations will participate in Newport's 62nd annual parade on March 17. Following the two-hour march, adults and children alike can enjoy the comparatively new St. Patrick's Day Family Celebration, where there will be face-painting, Irish step dancers, and a "How Green Am I" contest with cash prizes.
City: Five Points
It costs just $20 this year to see more than 20 bands rock out on five stages for the annual St. Pat's in Five Points music festival on March 17. The beloved local bands, vendors, and activities onsite are enough to rival most large-scale music festivals, with highlights including a food truck rodeo, children's area, silent disco, craft beer alley, and an interactive life-sized chalkboard called "St. Pat's Wall."
City: Sioux Falls
The only requirement to participate in Sioux Falls' annual parade is to buy a $3 St. Patrick's Day button, so almost anyone can join in the local tradition. The celebration kicks off at 11 a.m. on March 17 with the painting of a giant shamrock on Phillips Avenue, before the parade starts at 2 p.m.
Though there are many ticketed concerts happening in Nashville to honor St. Patrick's Day, it's hard to beat the free-to-attend Music City Irish Festival on March 17-18 at Riverfront Park. The city's country-bluegrass bona fides collide with its Scots-Irish musical roots as more than 17 bands and cultural performers take the Riverfront Stage throughout the weekend.
The town of Shamrock takes advantage of its unique name and prime location on historic Route 66 with an annual St. Patrick's Day Festival, now the state's official celebration for the holiday. The ever-growing festival runs from March 16-18 this year and will feature the usual festive parade, in addition to a carnival, auto show, motorcycle rally, cornhole tournament, beard contest, and arts & crafts show.
City: Salt Lake City
The year, the Hibernian Society of Utah's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade and "Siamsa," or celebration, in downtown Salt Lake will benefit the Shriners Hospital of Salt Lake City. Families with Irish surnames march alongside festive floats before relaxing for a party outside the Holy Trinity Cathedral featuring dancing demonstrations, live music, and traditional Irish songfests.
City: Mount Snow
Ski down snow-covered slopes decked out in your greenest garb for a truly Vermont-style St. Patrick's Day at the Bud Light Shamrock Fest at Mount Snow. In between ski-runs on March 16 and 17, visitors to the resort can enjoy live music, breakfasts of corned beef and green eggs, and the Pot O' Gold Scavenger Hunt for which the prize is a ski pass for the 2018-19 season.
The Freedom First St. Patrick's Day celebration on March 17 includes more than just the standard parade -- there's also the Shamrock Festival, boasting live music and adult beverages, and the Freedom First Kids Zones, with face-painting inflatables, and various games. The dual offerings make Roanoke's free annual festivities difficult to beat for kids and parents alike.
Tucked away in Seattle's famous Pike Place Market, the longstanding Kell's Irish Restaurant and Bar hosts one of the city's best St. Patrick's Day parties, complete with dancing, corned beef, Irish soda bread, and an outdoor tent for extra space. Irish-influenced bands from near and far will be playing throughout the weekend, including Oasis' Liam Gallagher on March 17.
Of course, the town of Ireland goes above and beyond for St. Patrick's Day with its Irish Spring Festival, lasting from March 15-19 with loads of colorful local traditions. Beneath a rugged cliff called Blarney Rock, visitors and locals can enjoy a flag raising ceremony, parade, Pot O' Luck dinner, and road bowling -- an Irish sport involving metal balls being tossed along a predetermined path of country roads.
Madison puts on a great show of Irish pride each St. Patrick's Day, with festivities including a traditional parade with marching bands and floats as well as Irish-themed contests awarding prizes for best costume, reddest hair, largest clan, and more. The celebration starts March 17 at 1:30 p.m., following the 5K "Shamrock Shuffle Walk" starting at 10 a.m.
This proudly Western town in Yellowstone country throws an annual parade for St. Patrick's Day that's more geared towards kids than cowboys. On March 10, children can decorate their bikes and ride with the parade before the accompanying Spring Fling, with activities like a potato soup contest, petting zoo, face-painting, clogging performances, and a treasure hunt that takes kids to participating merchants.