Regardless of your actual heritage, everyone's a little bit Irish during the month of March. That might help explainwhy elaborate St. Patrick's Day celebrations can be found across the globe every year. Outside of Ireland, some of the biggest March 17 events are held in the U.S., but all of these cities host parades, festivals, and plenty of Irish dancing. Throw on some green and get ready to party at the world’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Erin go Bragh!
New York City
New York hosts the country’s (and the world's) largestSt. Patrick’s Day celebration, with more than two million people gathering for the city’s grand parade on March 17. The march up Fifth Avenue starts at 11 am on 44th Street and lasts about six hours, ending at 79th, with a stop at the St. Patrick’s Cathedral along the way. There are no floats or cars allowed in the parade, which features bands, bagpipes, and dancers, and typically between 150,000 to 250,000 participants. The tradition itself dates back to 1762, making the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade older than the U.S. itself.
Of courseDublin hosts one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations,five days filled with boat races, theIrish Beer & Whiskey Festival, music and street performances, and a spectacular parade. This year the festival runs from March 16through March 19. The parade, which takes place on St. Patrick’s Day, attracts about half a million spectators to watch the procession from Parnell Square to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And as part of “greening the city,” major landmarks throughout Dublin, such as the Natural History Museum and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, are given a green glow for the holiday.
The Sydney Opera House turns green for St. Patrick’s Day and so does the rest of the city. With a huge themed parade (dating back more than 200 years) on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, there’s also pre- and post- parade entertainment along the streets ofSydney. The parade itself is one of the largest in the world, and the only one organized and sponsored by the Irish Community and Government.
The city of Chicago truly commits toSt. Patrick’s Dayby dyeing the Chicago River green every season. The tradition dates back to 1961, when the chairman of the annual parade saw green dye in the river (which at the time was used to identify a sewage problem) and got the idea to use it for the upcoming holiday. On the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, more than 400,000 people gather along the Chicago River to watch 45 pounds of environmentally-safe vegetable dye turn the murky river a bright shade of green. After the morning's dyeing ceremony, even more spectators gather for the city’s parade at noon. The parade lasts about three hours, with dancers and bands making their way up Columbus Drive through Grant Park.
Since its inauguration in 1824, theMontreal St. Patrick’s Day Paradehas never been cancelled, regardless of poor weather in past years. The festivities take place on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day and includes floats, bands, and plenty of costumes. The three-hour parade features a massive replica of St. Patrick, which announces the beginning of the celebration.
For the rest of the world's biggest St. Patrick's Day celebrations, including the leprechaun costume contests of Buenos Aires, visitFodor's.