If you find yourself in a sea of green, surrounded by wig-wearing adults and day drinkers, don't panic! It must be Saint Patrick's Day. On March 17th celebrations take place around the world, to commemorate the patron saint of Ireland. Not sure where to go for St Patrick's Day on your next vacation? From Iceland to Italy, I've found all the best places to celebrate in Europe! After all, many religious feast days turn into a day-long party! For the most part, the 17th of March is by far the biggest celebration of the year, with marching bands, live music, and colorful parades.
Lá Fhéile Pádraig in Irish: "the Day of the Festival of Patrick" is not only about drinking in the street, dye-ing rivers green and wearing “Kiss me, I'm Irish” t-shirts. Moreover, the celebration has its roots in Christianity. As a result, many people around the world will celebrate the Emerald Isle's most holy saint by a church service, prayer, and lighting candles.
Many more, however, will dig out their green clothes, draw a shamrock on their cheek and leave work early to get that pint of Guinness in the pub!
In fact, the tradition of a Paddy's Day parade began in the United States by the vast population of Irish immigrants. Today, all around the world, St Patrick's Day celebrations are marked by crowds of Irish expats and fun-lovers alike wearing top hats and having the “craic” (fun!).
Fancy joining in some cèilidh dancing?
1. Glasgow, Scotland
2. London, UK
3. Munich, Germany
4. Barcelona, Spain
5. Padua, Italy
6. Brussels, Belgium
7. Copenhagen, Denmark
8. Paris, France
9. Reykjavik, Iceland
* Fan favorite: Dublin, Ireland
It might be absolutely freezing in Scotland's largest city, but on March 17th you can guarantee your whiskey blanket will keep you warm! Glasgow is often referred to as the “second home of the Irish”. On no day is this more evident than Paddy's Day, where street comedy, marching bands, and dancing go on until the wee hours!
Pondering where to go for St Patrick's Day? Well then head up to Glasgow, Scotland to paint the town green - if you can handle the pace!
Fancy a traditional Irish pub? Head to Jinty McGuinty where they are guaranteed to put on a good show for the Irish feast day. Celebrate the day with live music, comedy, and even a Guinness photo booth!
Come rain or shine; hardcore Londoners will storm the streets on March 17th to be Irish for one day! This year's theme is #LondonisOpen, and festivities will run from Friday to Sunday.
Fancy starting early? The Camden Music Trail will run all day Saturday, showcasing upcoming Irish musicians. Also, you can expect a special headline guest at the Doc Marten Boot Room!
Londoners know how to throw a party! The London Saint Patrick's Day Festival will celebrate the best of the Irish. Expect live music, dancing, and food trucks. Put on your dancing shoes and head to the center of the action at Trafalgar Square.
This year the 17th annual parade will take place on March 17. Fifty thousand people are expected to throng the streets of London. Of course, above all, they will come to watch the marching bands, Irish dancing and elaborate floats down the 2.4 km route. The parade starts at midday from Picadilly.
Don't forget your leprechaun hat!
Do you consider yourself a Highlander, rugby player or a Leprechaun? Find your crew at the St Patrick's Day Parade in Munich! All in all, over 50 groups celebrating different cultures, dances, and sports will throng the streets of Germany’s third largest city. If you're in Munich on March 17th, follow the green crowd to Münchner Freiheit! Here the parade will begin at about midday, heading down the boulevards of Leopold and Ludwig Strasse to Odeonsplatz. The floats and organized fun will last about 90 minutes, but the unofficial street dancing and St Patrick's Day celebrations will probably continue all night long!
Here´s a “shamrocking” fact for you: buildings around Munich are lit up green altogether on St Paddy's Day. This year’s St Patrick's Day event is part of a worldwide “global greening” initiative. You can expect to see iconic sites go emerald green for one day, including the Olympic Tower, BMW Welt and the Hofbräuhaus.
Boats, beer, and Barcelona sun are on the menu in the Catalan capital. Every year on March 17th, the traditional St.Patrick's Day Regatta takes place! Go and support your company or favorite Irish pub, row to glory on traditional Irish Connemara racing currachs. What better way to celebrate than in the sun?
If you live in Barcelona and fancy taking part, head to Marbella beach for the Saint Patrick's Day Barcelona 10th Annual Mediterranean Regatta 2019 (registration costs 90 euros). Feeling too sleepy after your Guinness? You could always opt for a more relaxing boat tour!
The Currach Regatta begins at 10 am. For the most part, the sun-burned revelers will head to the center to carry on the party at Irish bars and restaurants across the city.
Highlights also include the traditional St. Patrick's Day Street party in the neighborhood of Les Corts, (thanks to Kitty O'Shea's pub) and the classic Hard Rock Paddy's party!
Did you say March 17th? The party starts in Padua way before that! Italians sure know where to go for St Patrick's Day. In the northern Italian city of Padua (or “Padova”), the celebrations last for five days. Above all, it brings together the best of the Irish and Italian: passion meets party! In other words: excellent gastronomy, music to get your feet tapping, and street parties to toast the sunset (and sunrise!) with a Guinness. Or if you´re full of the “black stuff” you could always try one of these famous Italian cocktails!
At Italy's best-loved Irish festival, you can expect live music and entertainment on multiple stages. There will also be free parking for cars and motorbikes. Get ready for five days of authentic Ireland!
Whether it's the Irish-Italian heritage, shared Catholic roots or simply their mutual love of a good party, Padua is a sure winner for a Paddy's Day to remember.
Tuscany Vineyard tour and Dinner in the Chianti
Did you say Belgium? The Irish in Europe Association, set up to promote Irish culture in Europe, is located in Brussels. The 10,000 to 15,000 strong Irish population, coupled with the lethal Belgian beer makes for one heck of a combo. It's no wonder this is one of the best St Patrick's Day celebrations in Europe!
Brussels is home to a melting pot of cultures, languages, and nationalities, and the seat of the European Union. Therefore it is the perfect place to celebrate on March 17th. The festivities take place in the central neighborhood of Schuman, locally known as the “Irish village”!
The Irish Embassy in Brussels will certainly be painting the Belgian town green this year! They will have the traditional parade, Irish dancing, live music, and a Saint Patrick's Day ball.
Of course, the best place to celebrate the day of all things Irish in Europe is in an Irish pub! Brussels has some terrific options: Micheal Collins at Bailli, O’Reilly's in front of the Bourse, and my personal favorite, the Hairy Canary in the EU quarter!
Did you know? Even the famous Belgian statue “Mannekin Pis” (literally the “Pissing Boy”!) will be notably dressed up for the occasion.
Are you looking for something different on this festive day? If you need a break from traditional music, parades, and dancing, go to Copenhagen! Here in the Danish capital, March 17th is marked by the annual 3-legged charity race. Contestants will be tied together in teams of two. Part of the pub crawl also includes drinking half pints at the bars on the way!
This year the chosen charities are the Laura Lynn Children's Hospice, Danske Hospitalsklovne, as well as the Cambodian Children's Advocacy Foundation.
Do you want your Guinnesses to give more than a hangover? Have fun with a difference by joining the fundraising St Patrick's Day event race in Copenhagen!
Parisians know how to put on a good show, above all on St Paddy's Day! One of their most famous iconic buildings, the Basilica Sacre Coeur, even turns green for the day!
For an undeniably all-around Irish extravaganza, Paris has some noteworthy events in store. The Celtic Legends will be putting on their famous “Connemara Tour” showcasing Celtic culture. This year it will take place at the Paris L'Olympia.
True to its name, the Centre Culturel Irlandais will be hosting a series of St Patrick's Day events. Get ready for Irish music, food and drinks, and culture. Or if you fancy a little flutter, check out the celebrations at the Paris Casino! Once you've taken in all of the festivities, don't forget to head up to the Eiffel tower for a look over the Paris skyline.
Paris Tour with Lunch in the Eiffel Tower and a Seine Cruise
Rolling green hills, dramatic cliff faces and a population who likes a drink or two, did you say Iceland or Ireland? The two countries have nearly identical spelling coupled with some shared characteristics such as landscape and a notoriously difficult language! In fact, there’s even a town in the West Fjords of Iceland called Patreksfjörður which is named after the patron saint of Ireland. Where better to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day than in Saint Patrick's town?
As for the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, the city goes all out, lighting up all its major monuments emerald green for the saint of their sister island. If you choose to spend the 17th of March in Reykjavik, expect to see the Icelandic landmarks such as the Harpa Concert Hall, the Pearl and the Hallgrímskirkja bathed in green light. If you are lucky, you may also see them in the light of a green sky if you catch the Aurora Borealis (Northern lights!). What a magical place to spend the feast of Saint Patrick, generally speaking, one of the best in Europe.
We couldn't make a list of where to go for Paddy's Day in Europe without the capital of all things Irish, Dublin itself!
Ironically this is not the biggest celebration for Saint Patrick in the world, but it is the most authentic! Here you will experience the pride of a nation celebrating their patron saint, and as a result, the party goes on for days!
In most cities, employers pray Saint Patrick's Day will take place on a Saturday (as the hangover virus and green beer will mean lots of empty chairs in the office!). While in Dublin, March 17th is always a national holiday, and the whole city joins in the fun.
Furthermore it’s the biggest day of the year in Dublin. You won't be wondering where to go for Saint Patrick's day here. Over 500 000 people come to see the famous St.Paddy's Day Parade, which runs from Parnell Square to St Patrick´s Cathedral. There is fun for all ages, with Irish dancing, arts and crafts festivals, and the traditional Firefighters Pancake Breakfast!
Warning: the festivities can get out of hand as many people ignore the ban on public drinking for this occasion. Flights book out fast too - here's a handy guide to making sure you get that cheap seat! Finally, while Ireland is, of course, famous for many things, the sun is not one of them, so don't forget to pack your umbrella!
In conclusion, it's time to “shamrock” on! Slainte