Best Places to Go for St. Patrick’s Day
January 28th, 2011
When you think about where to go to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you probably automatically think of a couple of places – namely, anywhere in Ireland (of course), followed closely by New York (probably). But there are lots of cities around the globe that are noted for their St. Patrick’s Day festivities – and if you’re a budget traveler you might be more interested in seeking out the cheapest place to go rather than getting your heart set on a destination only to find out it’s the most expensive.
Even if you’re not a super budget traveler, you might just prefer the idea of doing something a little less predictable for St. Patrick’s Day. And just because you’re not going to New York or Dublin doesn’t mean you’ll have to make your own green beer. On the contrary, there are plenty of cities with big-time celebrations.
So here are some of the best places to go for St. Patrick’s Day – some of which you’d be smart to consider for potentially cheaper airfare.
>> March 17 is on a Saturday in 2012.
This is the no-brainer – if you could be anywhere for St. Patrick’s Day (and money was no object!) you’d be crazy to choose anything but Dublin. Unfortunately for most of us, money is an object – and even more unfortunately, Dublin is notoriously expensive even when it’s not St. Patrick’s Day. If you’ve got your heart set on Dublin, you’re in for a grand party – and your bank account is likely to take a heavy hit.
Perhaps second only to Dublin in terms of St. Paddy’s Day festivities is New York, which does offer a few more options in terms of budget travel. There are three airports in New York to choose from, and the city is full of cheap hotels and hostels (although some of them are pretty dire). If you still want to experience one of the world’s bigger St. Patrick’s Day parties without spending a fortune to get to Dublin, then NYC might be your best bet.
Another city to check out for St. Patrick’s Day is Boston – with a rich Irish history, it’s likely to be one of the more boisterous party cities on March 17th. But in addition to the usual (and somewhat tired) green beer and other alcohol-related elements of the celebration, Boston also offers things like an Irish heritage walk through the city’s traditional Irish neighborhoods. It’s also in the history books as the first city to hold a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
You’d be forgiven if you didn’t think of Savannah immediately when someone said the words “St. Patrick’s Day parade” – but this small Georgia city is home to one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parties in the United States. Savannah’s St. Paddy’s Day parade started back in 1825, and it goes right through the city’s beautiful historic center. They throw a southern twist on things, of course, by dyeing not only the fountain water green but also the grits they eat!
Along with green beer, in Chicago you’re also going to find the whole river has turned green. It’s one of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day traditions, and although it dates back to a plumbing mishap originally, it’s become a cherished part of Chicago’s St. Paddy’s Day party ever since. It usually happens a few days before the 17th, so check with the local tourism board if you want to be there as they’re dyeing the water.
If you’re looking for the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the UK, you’ll find that in Birmingham – not London. In fact, Birmingham is also home to what’s usually a 5-day celebration around March 17th, including plenty of family-friendly events as well as all the requisite debauchery. And although travel to England might be more expensive than some other parts of Europe, Birmingham is cheaper to visit than cities like London or Edinburgh, so that’s a bonus.
Canada’s oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade is in Montreal – it dates back to 1824. The city has been celebrating St. Paddy’s Day since the mid-1700s, however, so there’s plenty of history here. Visiting Montreal for St. Patrick’s Day is a great way to experience a few different cultures in one go – you get Canada (obviously), a little French culture (since that’s the city’s main language), and then the Irish influence for the duration of the party. Three cultures in one trip is definitely an economical way to travel.
Nicknamed the “Emerald City,” Seattle is as good a place as any to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! In 2009, no less than CNN called Seattle one of the 5 best cities in the US to party on March 17th. Festivities include a parade through downtown that’s usually the highlight of a week-long slate of events. It’s hardly the biggest celebration in the country, but it doesn’t lack for enthusiasm – and it’s much cheaper to visit Seattle than it is to visit New York, Boston, or San Francisco.
Argentina is another place that probably doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think about St. Patrick’s Day, but Buenos Aires does it up right with all-night parties in some parts of the city. March 17th has the added benefit of being early autumn instead of early spring in Buenos Aires, so it’s likely to be much warmer for outdoor partying than in some other parts of the world. Plus, Buenos Aires is one of those cities that’s almost always a bargain to visit.
photo by Barnacles Hostels
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