5 Best Cities for St. Patrick’s Day 2015
Everyone is Irish on March 17, when green beer and parades fill every town with even the most tenuous connection to the Old Sod. If you want to get beyond the plastic shamrocks and neon leprechauns to discover the most enthusiastic devotees of St. Patrick’s Day, Nova Car Hire can show you how. Here are five international cities where you can celebrate this Irish holiday in style:
With a theme like “Celebrate Now,” the organisers of this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin leave no room for doubt about the purpose of the festival. Local favourite Brendan O’Carroll (a comedian best known for his creation Mrs. Brown’s Boys) is this year’s Grand Marshal, leading bands from Ireland, Germany, the United States and Mexico, as well as colourful floats and exciting performers through the heart of Dublin City.
Hire a car in Dublin and enjoy other events planned for the four-day festival, including treasure hunts, ceilis, concerts, street theatre and art installations. The festival is in the second year of a three-year cycle based on past, present and future. Entertaining and all as the parade is, the real action on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is in the pub. Firm favourites include Gogarty’s and the Palace Bar, but for the best Guinness in town, you need to visit Mulligans of Poolbeg Street.
The first official St. Patrick’s Day parade in Canada took place in Montreal in 1824, but (unusually for a French-speaking city) the day has been celebrated here as far back as 1759, when Irish soldiers defeated the Montreal Garrison. Montreal explodes into colour and shows just what multiculturalism looks like when it’s done properly, with French-Canadians and Irish-Canadians revelling with everyone else at the biggest parade of its kind in the country.
The parade is scheduled for 12 noon on Sunday, March 22, this year, with the action kicking off at the corner of Fort and St. Catherine and proceeding east to Phillips Square. Ever responsible, the Quebecers have issued a 2015 update of last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Survival Guide, where tips include the revelation that green beer has no magical qualities and is just as intoxicating as ordinary beer.
Even if the constant references to “Patty’s Day” make you grit your teeth, New York is hard to beat as the king of Irish kitsch on March 17. The annual parade winds its way along Fifth Avenue past such celebrated New York attractions as St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 50th Street and Central Park. It kicks off at 11am on 44th Street and ends at the American Irish Historical Society between 4.30PM and 5PM at East 80th Street.
It may be 3,000 miles from Dingle to the east coast of the United States, but an Irish pub in New York City is the perfect place to get into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day. Nobody celebrates their Irishness quite like the Irish-Americans (and the Irish-for-a-day Americans), so head to somewhere like Riverdale’s An Béal Bocht, an arty spot scattered with posters of Irish writers and serving comfort food such as the meat-laden full Irish breakfast. Donovan’s Pub in Woodside is a doggedly unhip bar lined with dark wood and offering the malty red ale Smithwick’s alongside shepherd’s pie and roast beef sandwiches.
Whatever about the United States and Canada, Argentina is certainly not among those nations one traditionally associates with shamrocks and shillelaghs. You might be surprised to learn, however, that this South-American country is home to the fifth-largest Irish community outside of Ireland itself, so for a St. Patrick’s Day like you’ve never experienced before, head to Buenos Aires. And, once you stay off the cerveza for long enough, you can rent a car in Buenos Aires and visit the estancias (ranches) of the Pampas.
Appropriately enough for a celebration associated with drunken antics, the day has become known as Dia de la Cerveza (Beer Day). Indeed, many of the locals make no attempt to don emerald garments or pin wads of greenery to their lapels in an effort to claim Irish heritage, but they do join in the spirit of the day. The parade does not kick off until about 6PM, with all-night parties taking over the streets afterward. A dinner dance takes place in the Hurling Club of Buenos Aires.
As Ireland’s nearest neighbour, the U.K. has no shortage of Irish residents and one of the biggest concentrations of those immigrants is in Birmingham. In fact, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Birmingham is believed to be the third-biggest in the world (after Dublin and New York), with some 100,000 merrymakers joining in the festivities.
The parade takes place on Sunday March 15th, but events kick off a full nine days before, with a launch party on March 6th. During that time, events celebrating Irish heritage and culture take place across the city, with everything from an Irish literary evening, an Irish ale festival, a race night, and traditional Irish music and storytelling. When you’re not doing jigs or learning about Yeats, you could hire a car in Birmingham and immerse yourself in the scenic pleasures of the Malvern Hills.