Few cities in the world outside of Ireland can lay as strong a claim to being the place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as New York City can. With its deep historical connections to Ireland, rich Irish cultural institutions, and sizable Irish-American population, New York City knows how to throw a St. Patrick’s Day-sized party. Regardless of whether you’re lucky enough to be a local regular during these festivities, or you’re at last able to visit New York City during the shamrock-centric weeks of March, you’ll want to waste no time putting your St. Patrick’s Day plans in place.
It’s difficult to go wrong spending St. Patrick’s Day in New York City, but with so much to see and do, you won’t want to end up green with envy because you missed out on something amazing only because you weren’t in the loop about it. Keep reading for some fun suggestions about how to make certain your New York City St. Patrick’s Day is an unforgettable experience.
Shamrocks on Parade
New York City held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade way back in 1762, and it proudly boasts that this makes it the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parade found anywhere in the world. No matter the records or statistics, this is one parade you won’t want to miss. The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade begins every year at 11:00am on March 17th (unless that year’s March 17th is a Sunday, in which case the parade runs on March 16th). It typically features some 150,000 participants, and roughly 2 million people line its route to watch the annual procession.
Things vary from year to year, of course, but the parade usually runs until about 5:00pm. If you’re interested in attending the parade (and why wouldn’t you be!), know that there’s plenty of good spots to be had along the route. However, it’s first come, first served, so the earlier in the day you arrive, the more likely it is you’ll snag that perfect spot.
Fifth Avenue Fun
Speaking of the parade route . . . just because it’s St. Patrick Day and the parade is front and center of everyone’s mind doesn’t mean you can’t branch out and do something slightly less Irish-y throughout the day. In fact, you can combine the two experiences for double the fun! Many of New York City’s most popular attractions are located along its St. Patrick’s Day parade route, which runs northward along Fifth Avenue from East 44th Street to 80th Street.
Along this prominent thoroughfare alone you’ll pass such landmarks as Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art, Radio City Music Hall, Central Park, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’ll be a breeze, if you’re so inclined, to combine your Irish festivities with some classic New York City sightseeing.
Let’s be honest, if you limit your time in Irish pubs to St. Patrick’s Day and/or the month of March . . . well, you’re missing out. Still, it’s never too late to make up for lost time by checking out one or more of New York City’s finest Irish pubs as part of your St. Patrick’s Day reveling. Whether you grab a quick pint, enjoy a leisurely meal, or just tag along with some friends, you won’t regret making just such a stop central to your New York City St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s important to keep in mind that even if Guinness isn’t your thing, or you aren’t in the mood for fish and chips, there’s still much merriment to be had at an Irish pub. Most establishments these days serve a wide selection of beverages, and the average menu at your typical Irish establishment isn’t as narrow as you might expect it to be if you deal only in clichés. What’s more, some of the best live music you’re liable to encounter in a bar can be heard at any number of Irish pubs. So what are you waiting for? Hit one up right away . . . or, rather, as soon as you finish reading this blog entry!
Take to the Stage
A stunning body of literature is one of the most significant gifts the Irish people have given the world. From James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett to Paul Murray, Sally Rooney, and Kevin Barry, Ireland has produced far more than its fair share of wonderful writers. Ireland’s rich literary history extends to the stage, too, and if you’re looking for a different way to mark the arrival of another St. Patrick’s Day in New York City, you’d do a lot worse than going to a live theatre performance.
A terrific place to find contemporary Irish theatre is the Irish Repertory Theatre. Located on West 22nd Street, between the famous Flatiron Building and the city’s chic Chelsea neighborhood, the Irish Repertory Theatre has been staging acclaimed works of Irish theatre for over 30 years. Whether it’s a revival of a classic work, or the debut of an provocative new show, you’re sure to find compelling work being presented here.
Learn How to Speak Gaelic
Since 1972, the Irish Arts Center has been New York City’s go-to place for Irish cultural events. Located in Hell’s Kitchen, at the corner of West 51st Street and 11th Avenue, the Irish Arts Center shines a light on the contemporary Irish and Irish-American experience by regularly hosting all sorts of live events. These include music concerts, poetry readings, art shows, theatre performances, and more. The Irish Arts Center also sponsors classes that teach participants how to play traditional Irish instruments like the harp and fiddle, the basics of Irish step dance, and even Gaelic!
Okay, okay . . . so, while it’s true you might not be mastering the nuances of Gaelic over the course of your St. Patrick’s Day visit to New York City, all the same it’s worth carving out some time this March to stop by the Irish Arts Center to learn more about this remarkable country and its lasting impact on the people of New York City and beyond. Sláinte!