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The first-ever official St. Patrick’s parade took place in 1737. However, it wasn’t in Ireland — it was in Boston, Massachusetts. Ireland didn’t host its own until 1903, nearly 200 years later! If our math is correct, that also means St. Patrick’s Day events in North America pre-date the founding of the United States by nearly 40 years.
Today, it’s still a beloved holiday with lively celebrations marked by Celtic music and dancing, hearty Irish food, plenty o’ green beer, and St. Patrick’s Day parades that draw hundreds of thousands of onlookers. If good music, food, and fun aren’t great reasons to travel, what are?
We rounded up 10 of the best 2023 St. Patrick’s Day events, from the wildly popular and long-running to the quirky and family-friendly. And to save the most green on your travels, use Wanderu to score deals on bus and train fares, hotels, and rental cars.
Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Events
March 11 (Parade) — March 17, 2023
If you don’t already know, Chicago is a lively city that takes partying pretty seriously. Any time of year, any weather, any occasion — Chicagoans show up, ready to celebrate.
This is especially true when it comes to Chicago St. Patrick’s Day festivities. It begins with the Chicago River dyeing, when the waterway becomes bright green for several hours before the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago. Fun fact: when the tradition of dyeing the Chicago River began in the 1960s, the dye lasted for a whole month (!!), but today’s quick-dissipating, environmentally-friendly dye is gone in a few hours.
Immediately following the Chicago River dyeing is the parade, among the city’s most beloved St. Patrick’s day activities. The next day, there are two additional parades: the South Side Irish Parade and the Northwest Side Irish Parade. Of course, there are also tons of Irish-themed events throughout the city, including live music performances and plenty of green beer and food!
March 11 — 18, 2023
Vancouver, British Columbia
Michael Nugent / Flickr
Speaking of cities that know how to have a great time, Vancouver certainly fits the bill. Unsurprisingly, this city renowned for its nightlife is one of the best places to spend St. Patrick’s Day 2023 — and specifically, CelticFest.
The week-long festival leading up to St. Patrick’s Day includes a vast range of events, from family-friendly to not-so-family-friendly. Think street fairs, outdoor concerts, comedy shows, pop-up markets, children’s storytelling, live dance performances, sporting demonstrations, and whiskey tastings. Best of all, many of these St. Patrick’s Day events are free!
Vancouver has tons to do outside CelticFest, including dozens of bar crawls, river cruises, concerts, museums, and other festivals. And there’s no need for a pot of gold to enjoy these free activities.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Denver
March 11, 2023
Billing itself as “the largest parade west of the Mississippi,” Denver’s St. Paddy’s Day event is not to be missed. The parade is by far the city’s largest and impressively, it’s run entirely by volunteers.
On the Saturday before the holiday, the parade will wind through downtown Denver in a loop and feature over 10,000 performers. City officials say 250-300,000 people line up to watch the parade on its 15-block route!
Beyond the parade, this Colorado destination is a wonderful place to enjoy other St. Patrick’s Day 2023 events and Irish pubs. Keep in mind that March in Denver can bring anything from 70-degree temps to a snowstorm, so be sure to pack layers!
NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 17, 2023
New York, NY
James Felder / Flickr
Believed to be the oldest in the entire world, the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade dates back to 1762. The parade features over 150,000 participants and draws a crowd of over two million people every year.
This St. Patrick’s Day parade route marches up iconic Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 80th Street, passing St. Patrick’s Cathedral along the way. There are plenty of excellent viewpoints, but you’ll need more than the luck of the Irish to score a front-row seat to the parade. Though the parade starts at 11:00am, many spectators line up along Fifth Avenue several hours early to stake out their spots.
If you’re looking for more things to do for St Patrick’s Day after the parade, well, this is New York City — there’s no shortage of activities. Better yet, there are lots of free things to do in NYC.
Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 17, 2023
Bruce Tuten / Flickr
It’s easy to consider huge cities like Chicago and NYC the capitals of all things St. Patty’s, but Savannah deserves a spot among them. The city is home to the country’s second-biggest parade, right behind NYC!
The parade has been held continuously for nearly 200 years, beginning in 1824. It draws between 400,000 to 500,000 spectators, well over 2.5 times the city’s population. Highlights include green-dyed fountains in the Historic District and the city’s relaxed open-container laws. 🍻
Aside from the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade, there are plenty of reasons to visit in March. The weather is ideal, azaleas bloom throughout the city’s iconic squares, and there are numerous other events, including the Savannah Stopover Music Festival.
World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 17, 2023
Hot Springs, AR
Kimberly Vardeman / Flickr
When you imagine where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2023, we’re willing to bet Hot Springs, Arkansas, isn’t anywhere near the top — but it should be!
Hot Springs is the home of the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one that follows the 98-foot-long Bridge Street. The parade includes Irish floats and festivities, but also some unexpected twists. For example, the Grand Marshal is always a famous celeb — last year was Emmy-nominated actor John Corbett, and 2023’s is country star Justin Moore. There are also several unusual attractions and St. Patrick’s Day activities for kids, like the World’s Biggest Potato on Wheels and the World’s Shortest St. Paddy Footrace.
While you’re in town, don’t miss taking a soak on historic Bathhouse Row or filling water jugs (for free!) from one of the town’s thermal spring fountains.
St. Patrick’s Day in San Antonio
March 17 — 18, 2023
San Antonio, TX
Ken Lund / Flickr
The Chicago River dyeing may be world-famous, but it actually isn’t unique among St. Patrick’s Day events. The San Antonio River also gets dyed green each St. Patrick’s Day since 1968!
San Antonio’s event is even more unique, in fact, as the city dyes the river multiple times on two days: March 17 and 18. Thanks to the slow-moving current, the color typically sticks around for a few days. Spectators can find a good view (and plenty of green beer) anywhere along the 2.5-mile Riverwalk.
The river hosts another beloved San Antonio event, the St. Patrick’s Day River Parade. Taking place very literally on the river, the parade features a procession of 12 Irish-themed floats, complete with bagpipers.
Wearin’ of the Green Parade
March 18, 2023
Baton Rouge, LA
It’s no secret that Louisiana as a whole takes celebrations pretty seriously. The ingredients are all there, between Mardi Gras, mild weather year-round, and incredible food, cocktail, and music cultures.
The Wearin’ of the Green parade in the state capital combines all of these things. A 5K Shamrock Run kicks off the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Baton Rouge, followed by the procession featuring nearly 100 floats.
Several local businesses along the parade route have their own St. Paddy’s Day events, including the Overpass Merchant and Uncle Earl’s.
Luckily, St. Patrick’s Day just so happens to coincide with crawfish season in Baton Rouge. Oh, and don’t geaux to the parade without your green!
Irish Whiskey Hooley
March 19, 2023
Victoria, British Columbia
Stéphane Gallay / Flickr
You might be wondering what’s so special about an Irish pub that we’d include it in a list of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Victoria’s Irish Times Pub has been named one of the best pubs in the Americas…more than once. It’s phenomenal year-round, but really comes to life with its annual Irish Whiskey Hooley event, hosted by the Greater Victoria Festival Society.
You won’t exactly find St. Patrick’s Day activities for kids here, but you will find live Celtic music, dancing, authentic Irish food, an elaborate costume contest with prizes, and of course, lots o’ whiskey. Advance reservations are required, and tickets include 16 whiskey tastings and a commemorative glass.
South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade
March 19, 2023
rachaelvoorhees / Flickr
Boston is inseparable from Irish culture. When you consider that nearly 20% of the city’s population is of Irish heritage, it’s no surprise that Boston is one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
The Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade dates all the way back to 1737, and it still draws around one million spectators every year! In addition to the parade, Dropkick Murphys (Boston locals) play several shows leading up to St. Patty’s Day and there are tons of themed bar crawls throughout the city.
Fun fact: Boston is the only place in the world where St. Patrick’s Day is an officially observed holiday, with bank, government, and school closures. This is because March 17 also commemorates Evacuation Day, the date British troops finally left Boston in 1776.
Wherever you decide to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, be sure to check Wanderu or download the Wanderu app for seamless travel booking. From bus and train tickets to rental cars and hotels, we make the entire travel planning process hassle-free. Lucky you! 🍀
Looking for more spring travel ideas? Check out some of the most affordable Spring Break destinations, unique and unexpected places for Spring Break, and the best cities for a spring girls’ trip. Or for something a bit different, head to one of the most dog-friendly US cities or the most Instagrammable US national parks.