There are dozens of sizable cities in the U.S. that put on grand St. Patrick’s Day celebrations – from parades to dyeing rivers green and all sorts of hoopla. While there are some awesome festivities in those cities, small towns come to life for the Irish-inspired holiday, too. This list includes a mix of both. Originally honoring the death of St. Patrick and Irish heritage, St. Patrick’s Day has commercialized significantly in recent times, but maintains parts of its initial intent in many areas – mainly celebrating Irish culture. Here are the five places in the U.S. where you won’t want to miss St. Patrick’s Day:
New York City, New York
With one of the oldest and largest St. Paddy’s Day parades in the country, according to TripSavvy, New York City has a “no-float rule” where spectators are treated to a more traditional event with a lineup of Irish dancers, bagpipers, marching bands and other such groups. After the parade, you can pop into one of the city’s many Irish pubs to hear conventional Irish songs and grab a pint. Or you can choose a more reserved route, learning about the culture’s history at the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum, East Village’s Merchant House Museum or the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park, among other places.
“Nebraska’s Irish Capital,” O’Neill is a town of less than 4,000 that doubles for St. Patrick’s Day, according to the city. Founded by an Irish native and proclaimed the “Irish Capital” 50 years ago, it’s also home to the world’s largest shamrock. The shamrock gets a fresh coat of paint every year (it’s been permanent in the concrete since 1993) and can even be seen on Google Maps at the intersection of Highways 20 and 281. If you want a unique celebration in a place that is built around Irish culture, look no further than O’Neill.
In the Windy City, St. Patrick’s Day is one big long party. But don’t just mark your calendar for March 17 – there’s the St. Paddy’s Day Run on March 16, which is also the day the city famously dyes the Chicago River. There are three parades: Downtown (March 16), Northwest Side and South Side (both March 17). Buildings light up green, among them the United Center, Soldier Field, 875 N. Michigan Ave., the Wrigley Building and the Irish American Heritage Center. All around, it’s a huge celebration that’s tough to rival. Just search for “St. Patrick’s Day Chicago” to see the massive list of things you can do. Shamrock pub crawls and booze cruises are only a couple of the fun ideas that will make for an enjoyable St. Patty’s.
New London, Wisconsin
Only 7,000 people or so live in town, but New London’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is still the largest in the state of Wisconsin. “The legendary week of festivities begin when local Shamrock Club leprechauns change the town’s name to ‘New Dublin,’” reads the club’s website. As New London becomes New Dublin, loads of events ensue. Aside from the parade, there’s Irish Fest, which features Celtic bands, Irish food, beverages and other products. Corned beef, cabbage and entertainment are fixtures at area restaurants and pubs for the whole week. A clock on the “New Dublin” website is counting the seconds – literally – until the Irish merriment.
It’s the most Irish city in the U.S., with nearly 25 percent of its inhabitants boasting Irish heritage, so it makes sense that Boston puts on quite the hoorah for St. Patrick’s Day and draws more than 600,000 tourists for the holiday each year. Everywhere near the lengthy parade route is decked out in green for the day, which has a longstanding importance to the city. Boston held America’s first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in 1737. Today, it’s home to more Irish pubs than any other place in the country. Plus, there’s more Irish history than any person can consume in just a day: from the Granary Burying Ground to numerous Irish memorials. The Irish Cultural Center of New England also has an extensive lineup of music and dance to celebrate.