Events, Festivals and Exhibitions

St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival

17 March

St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.

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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.

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. This has gone largely unheeded.

St Patrick’s Day in the US

Naturally considering the large Irish diaspora, the day is also massive in the United States. The first recorded celebration in America was at St. Augustine, Florida, in 1600. Chicago has painted its river green since 1962 to mark the special occasion.

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?

St Patrick
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.

St Patricks DAY
Even the beer turns green
Is St Patrick’s Day a Holiday?

It is in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, as well as Savannah, Georgia and Suffolk County, Massachusetts in the United States, and Montserrat!

St Patrick’s Day Parade

Parades were not a traditional component of the celebrations. The parade started in America in the 18th Century. The Boston Parade, which was more a gathering in reality, started in 1737, while the New York Parade dates back to 1762. Now there are parades all over the United States from Alabama to Washington DC.

The first Irish parade was held in Waterford in 1903, with the first state St Patrick’s Day Parade Dublin in 1931.

The New York City Parade with some 150,000 participants and two million spectators, and the Chicago Parade with a similar number of spectators are the two biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the US.

St Patrick’s Day Parade New York

St Patrick's Day Parade
NYC Parade, Midtown, Upper East Side

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 ending on 5th Avenue at 79th Street. The NYC Parade is held on 17 March at 11:00am.

St Patrick’s Festival

In Dublin, the St Patrick’s Festival is from 15 to 18 March, 2024. The Dubln St Patrick Day’s Parade will set off on 17 March. The 2024 St Patrick’s Festival programme, which includes music and comedy, can be found here.

Other St Patrick’s Day Festivals 2024 in Ireland

There will be celebrations across the whole of the island of Ireland. These include:

The day is celebrated all over the world – even Moscow

When is St Patrick’s Day?

It is always on 17 March, come wind, rain or snow. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Accommodation in Dublin, Chicago and New York

If you are looking for accommodation in these cities or elsewhere to celebrate the green day, book well in advance.

Things To Do in Dublin and New York

For ideas on what to do in Dublin, click here. And for things to do in New York, click here.


17 March


St Patrick’s Festival Box Office
12 Essex St E, Temple Bar
Dublin,D02 EH42Ireland
+ Google Map
View Venue Website

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Mark Bibby Jackson

Mark Bibby Jackson

Before setting up Travel Begins at 40, Mark was the publisher of AsiaLIFE Cambodia and a freelance travel writer. When he is not packing and unpacking his travelling bag, Mark writes novels, including To Cook A Spider and Peppered Justice. He loves walking, eating, tasting beer, isolation and arthouse movies, as well as talking to strangers on planes, buses and trains whenever possible. Most at home when not at home.

Read more posts by Mark Bibby Jackson →

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