The saying goes that everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and judging by the magnitude of celebrations throughout the USA, that certainly could be true. The parades and shenanigans in New York and Boston are very popular, but there are plenty of other cities and towns in which to find the luck o’ the Irish. Let’s take a look at 17 ways to have fun leading up to and on March 17, and into the weekend.
1. Let’s start with the granddaddy of all parades. On March 17, 400 marching groups from throughout the USA, Ireland and even France will parade through New York City during the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, just as they have since 1762. In 2016, 100,000 people marched in the parade, with two million spectators. The Big Apple definitely goes big for St. Patrick’s Day.
2. In the appropriately-named town of Shamrock, Texas, crowds of 10,000 to 12,000 descend upon the town to enjoy a weekend filled with events (March 16-19), including concerts, dancing and more, and even a Donegal Beard Contest.
3. Since 1936, the Newark St. Patrick’s Day Parade has marched through the streets of downtown Newark, and is touted as being “New Jersey’s First and Finest.” The 82nd annual parade will feature nearly 100 groups as they celebrate on March 24, postponed from March 17 due to weather and icy conditions.
4. Savannah, Ga.’s numerous Irish festivities culminate with the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which will begin at 10:15 a.m. on March 17 when thousands of spectators will line the historic and tree-lined streets.
5. In San Antonio, the river is dyed green and becomes the River Shannon, kicking of the Murphy’s St. Patrick’s Day River Parade & Festival March 17-18. On March 18, a parade of barges floats two-and-a-half miles down said green river to the sounds of live music and the aromas of traditional Irish food. Festival-goers can kiss the Blarney Stone and maybe even participate in the festival’s first-ever Pretty Knees Contest.
6. In San Diego, the 21st Annual ShamROCK on March 17 features Irish rock bands and pints of green beer, with an expected 15,000 revelers to join in the fun.
7. St. Patrick’s Day Weekend brings two days of festivities to Holyoke, Mass. On Saturday, the 42nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Road Race will end at the Mummers Concert in downtown Holyoke, followed by a day filled with entertainment, food and drink, and a party that will last well into the night. The following day, the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at 11 a.m., and the town of 40,000 residents swells to 300,000 to 400,000 people celebrating the green.
8. In Providence, R.I., between 5,000 and 10,000 people come out to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and participate in the 5K, which precedes the parade. Both events will be held on March 18.
9. Norfolk’s 50th Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and After-Party on March 18 keeps the celebration going all day long. The nearly-two-mile-long parade will weave through the heart of the city beginning at 10 a.m., and the after party will keep the festivities going with live music, and local food and drinks.
10. Floats, pipe & drum bands, Irish dancers, leprechauns and more fun and entertaining groups will make up the 125 entries that will march in the 21st Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Charlotte, N.C. on March 18. Afterwards, the Charlotte Goes Green Festival will fill the day with more Irish music, dancing, and food and drinks.
11. The entire month of March is devoted to the wearing o’ the green in Dublin, Ga. On March 18, or what organizers have dubbed SUPER Saturday, five different events will be happening simultaneously: the Leprechaun Road Race, an Arts & Crafts Festival, the 39th Annual St. Patrick’s Tennis Tournament, the St. Patrick’s Parade and an Irish Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner. Not surprisingly, with more than 40 different events, an estimated 75,000-100,000 people visit Dublin for the festivities.
12. The Mayor’s River O’Green Fest in Tampa on March 18 will not only feature the winding Hillsborough River dyed green for the festivities, but a day filled with family-friendly live entertainment, kids’ activities, Irish food and drinks, and much more.
13. The St. Patrick Society Quad Cities Grand Parade XXXII starts in downtown Rock Island, Illinois, and crosses the Centennial Bridge and over the Mississippi River into downtown Davenport, Iowa, making it the only bi-state St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the USA. Expect about 20,000 other revelers to join you in the festivities on March 18.
14. It’s all St. Patrick’s Day, all day long on March 18 in Murphysboro, Illinois, starting with the 30th Annual 5K Walk/Run. Afterwards, enjoy an Irish Stew Cook-Off, parade, Irish Kids’ Festival, Shamrock Craft Beer & Spirits Tasting, and even a Leprechaun Classic Bags Tournament.
15. A city that changes its name to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Why not! That’s just what New London, Wisc., does, when it changes its name to New Dublin for its week-long festivities, including the St. Patrick’s Day Grand Parade and Irish Fest on March 18. The largest parade in the State of Wisconsin draws between 15,000 and 25,000 to the town of 7,000.
16. Earlier this month, Massachusetts Governor Charles D. Baker proclaimed March Irish Heritage Month; 20.5% of residents in Boston alone claim Irish ancestry. On March 19, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade will march through the streets of South Boston to celebrate that heritage.