Though St. Patrick’s Day is now seen as more of an excuse to drink green beer and wear silly outfits on March 17, it was originally a religious holiday, and was first placed on the church calendar sometime in the 1600s. It became an official holiday in 1903 but the first parade wasn’t until 1931.
During those early days, the holiday honored the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. Now it’s a more secular holiday for many people who enjoy the parties, parades, music, food and demonstrations that highlight the culture and history of Ireland. The biggest celebration, the five day St. Patrick’s Festival, is held every year in Dublin. As the capital of Ireland and the largest city, it’s one of the best cities for St. Patrick’s Day throughout the world.
Included in the event are comedy shows, storytelling and cultural lectures, film and visual art shows, musical performances and boat races as well as scavenger hunts for the kids. And of course, there will be plenty of good Irish food and beer on hand to keep festival goers happy. Parade grandstand seats sell for 60 euros (lining up on the street costs nothing), but other events are free. Even if you don’t attend many of the festival events, you’ll still find a celebratory atmosphere in Dublin at the time and you don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy yourself.
Dublin isn’t the only place in Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the holiday’s homeland. Cork, Derry, Galway and several other towns also host large celebrations. Of course you’ll mostly likely find flights to Dublin are cheaper than to other destinations in Ireland (as Dublin is the hub), but once in the country it’s easy to get around and distances from town to town are not great.
Even if you can’t make it to Dublin, you’ll find several other destinations putting on a lively St. Paddy’s Day party. From Chicago and New York in the US to Japan, Argentina and New Zealand, other cities and countries around the world get in on the holiday. The level of emphasis on Irish culture can vary – some places focus more on shamrocks and green beer – but the fun factor will be equally high no matter where you raise your glass.
Photos by infomatique at Flickr
By Katie Hammel of BootsnAll