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St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival
St Patrick’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is the day that all the Irish diaspora around the world celebrate the Patron Saint of Ireland.
Expect plenty of green to be on display as well as gallons of Guinness to be consumed as the Celtic nation celebrates being Irish, with a dash of shamrock.
Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s parades in Dublin and New York have been cancelled, athough the St Patrick’s Festival in Dublin is going ahead.
Did you know that St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival?
St Patrick’s Day History
Called Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish, the day marks the death of St Patrick on 17 March. Although records of the day being celebrated in both Ireland and Europe date from the 9th and 10th centuries, it was not until the 17th century that it was made a Christian feast day.
Celebrations normally involve a large parade, dancing at céilithes, and the wearing of green. Allegedly St Patrick used the three-leaved shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish.
The day has not always been observed in Protestant Northern Ireland, especially during the Troubles (60s to 90s) However, since 1998 parades have been held throughout Northern Ireland as St Patrick’s Day is used to emphasise Irishness. The St Patrick’s Day Festival was introduced in Dublin in 1995.
In recent times some religious leaders have bemoaned the excessive alcohol consumed on17 March, saying that the day should be returned to its religious roots, despite the ceremony existing for several centuries before it became a Christian feast day.
St Patrick is not the only patron saint to be celebrated in March in the UK, read our preview of St David’s Day in Wales.
Who was St Patrick?
Born in the second half of the 4th century in Roman Britain – possibly Cumbria, Scotland, or Wales as details are sketchy – Patrick was kidnapped aged 16 and taken to Ireland where he was made a slave.
While working as a shepherd he had a vision of God telling him to go to the coast where he stowed aboard a boat that took him back to Britain. There he became a priest before returning to Ireland with the Pope’s blessing, to convert the island to Christianity.
He is also reputed to have driven snakes from Ireland, although this is disputed. Patrick died on 17 March, 461 (or 493) and was buried in Downpatrick.
Is St Patrick’s Day a Holiday?
It is in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, and Montserrat!
St Patrick’s Day Parade
Parades were not a traditional component of the celebrations. The St Patrick’s Day Parade started in America in the 18th Century – the New York one is the oldest. The first Irish parade was held in Waterford in 1903, with the first state St Patrick’s Day Parade Dublin in 1931.
St Patrick’s Day Parade New York
The original New York City’s St Patrick’s Day Parade was first held in 1762. Expect marching bands, bagpipers and revellers daubed in kelly green as the parade proceeds from 44th Street at 11am ending on 5th Avenue at 79th Street at around 5pm. Unfortunately due to the coronovirus pandemic, New York’s St Patrick’s Day Parade 2020 is cancelled. It is the first time the parade has been cancelled. There are more than 200 coronavirus cases in New York.
St Patrick’s Festival
In Dublin, the St Patrick’s Festival will be from 13 to 17 March, with the Parade setting off at noon on the 17th. The Festival will include music from Annie Mac, Kojaque and Soulé, as well as events such as an historic tour of Gay Dublin, and talks. The 2020 St Patrick’s Festival programme can be found here.
Due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic the St Patrick’s Day Parade 2020 is cancelled, however the St Patrick’s Festival will go ahead. Further detials of what is cancelled and what is going ahead can be found here.
St Patrick’s Day in Thailand
Thailand will go especially green this year. Bangkok City Hall, All Seasons Place and the Thailand Cultural Centre will be lit green for Tourism Ireland’s Global Greening Initiative 2020 with the Embassy of Ireland in Thailand. In addition, the Irish Society of Pattaya will have a Parade on 17 March, and the St Patrick’s Society of Bangkok will hold its annual Emerald Ball on 14 March.
When is St Patrick’s Day?
It is always on 17 March, come wind, rain or snow, but perhaps not coronavirus.
Accommodation in Dublin and New York
If you are looking for accommodation in either city, or elsewhere to celebrate the green day, please fill in the form below, which can also help you with flights. Alternatively, here are some ideas of where to stay in New York.
Things to do in Dublin and New York
Mark Bibby Jackson
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