How many times does St. Patrick’s Day sneak up on you? I know it does with me because without fail, the day of, I think “oh, it’s St. Patrick’s Day”. And then I proceed to not wear green and spend the night in. But every year, I say I’ll do something fun so maybe this year is my chance…and yours too! How about a fun St. Patrick’s Day festival?
So I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best cities, in no particular order, that celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around the country, along with where you can find some healthy, vegan eats amidst all that corned beef!
New York – New York’s massive St Patrick’s Day Parade reaches back down the centuries to the roots of the United States. The first march took place 14 years before the Declaration of Independence, in 1762, and it continues to follow the same route along 5th Avenue today. It’s a relatively stripped-down affair — no floats or balloons, just swaying Irish kilts and sporrans, bagpipes, step dancers, firefighters, cops, school bands, and the heart-swelling sight of 200,000 focused marchers. If the march itself is surprisingly regimented, however, the streets around it tend to be less so, heaving with people tottering in and out of innumerable pubs and bars which throw open their doors from 11 a.m. on. A conveniently located Irish establishment is McSorley’s Old Ale House, or you could try the universal tradition of the pub crawl with St. Paddy’s Pub Crawl. Be sure to watch my New York episode to make note of where to dine before and after the celebrations!
Chicago – Chicago is still pretty chilly in March, but this doesn’t stop thousands of people pouring out onto the streets to celebrate the country whose immigrants built much of today’s Windy City. Festivities begin in fabulous fashion, as crowds line the riverbank to watch the water turn a bright emerald green. This is followed by a jubilant parade, replete with bagpipes, marching bands and Irish dance troupes, which evolves into a sprawling street party. If you need to head inside and warm up, Fado’s Irish Pubwill ensure you stay with the vibe. Here is where to eat green while in Chicago!
Savannah – The whole of Georgia seems to stream into the streets and squares of Savannah on St Patrick’s Day, which claims to have the second-largest parade in the world. Its parks flood with tables and chairs as people set up tailgating parties, and the entire city is draped in green, which spurts from the fountains and clings to the hair of every domestic creature in town. As the day darkens, head to one of the town’s Irish pubs to continue the celebrations into the wee hours. Kevin Barry’s has a lively bar and serves until 2 a.m., and there’s no better way to drift through a drunken stupor than listening to live Irish folk in its second-floor music room. Be sure to watch my Savannah episode to make note of where to get some vegan grub!
Boston – Known for its long-standing Irish heritage, Boston is an obvious choice for celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. The celebration in Boston begins a full week before Saint Patrick’s Day. An incredible 850,000 people attend some portion of the celebration, whether it’s the Gaelic Gourmet Gala, the numerous Irish band concerts, or the infamous parade with nearly 600,000 spectators. My Boston food faves are Veggie Galaxy, True Bistro and FoMu!
San Francisco, CA – On the West Coast there’s no Saint Patrick’s Day celebration that’s quite like the one that takes places in San Francisco. Called one of the most fashionable parades in the country, San Francisco’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade dates back to 1852 and follows the city’s iconic trolley tracks. Afterwards, the bars draw large crowds where green beer is served until it runs out. And there is no shortage of vegan fare, you cancheck out my round up here.
San Diego, CA – With more than 120 parade entries and thousands in attendance, San Diego’s Saint Patrick’s Day celebration has become one of the largest single-day events in the iconic city. Imitating the green scenery of Ireland, San Diego covers 80,000 square feet of its city blocks with artificial green turf to kick off Saint Patrick’s Day. Enjoy the sand and sea along with green beer and vegan eats like these!
Washington, DC – There are many celebratory events and activities throughout the Nation’s capital come Saint Patrick’s Day. The most famous of these is the Shamrock Festival, which is an all-day event showcasing over 50 Irish bands, dancers, games and other activities. Washington’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade is called “The Nation’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade” and features floats, marching bands, military and police brigades. Enjoy your patriotic parades with some awesome vegan plates!
Cheers and may the luck of the Irish be with you!