Sure, you can wear a green tie, eat corned beef and crank up the Dropkick Murphys, but if you really want to get into the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, you’ve gotta check out the coolest city-wide, tradition-soaked celebrations. Thankfully, we’ve found ‘em.
10. Hot Springs, AR
Tradition: Holds the record for shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade, 86 feet long. But don’t jump to conclusions—those 86 feet are jam-packed with Irish belly dancers, Irish Elvis impersonators, Irish wolfhounds, and this year’s celebrity Grand Marshall, John Corbett. Yes, that is right, Aidan from Sex in the City—they really go all out. Hot Springs wraps things up with a pub-crawl to wash away all of the memories of the insanity you just witnessed.
9. New Orleans, LA
Tradition: You don’t even have to flash the goods to get the freebies at this parade. Floats traditionally throw cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions into the crowd, but you still have a chance to get beads or kisses from marchers. New Orleans hosts different parades all throughout the week to maximize the magic.
8. Chicago, IL
Tradition: In 1962, Chicago pollution control started using dye to trace illegal sewage discharge, and when the river unexpectedly turned bright green, ta-da, the world’s greatest St. Patrick’ Day decoration was born. To this day, the city dumps 40 pounds of green vegetable dye in the river to keep it green for the whole celebration.
7. New York City, NY
Tradition: The first St. Patrick’s parade in NYC took place in 1766, held by Irish military men serving in the American colonies. The Big Apple boasts the world’s largest parade, with a recorded 150,000 marchers getting their step on from 5th Avenue and 44th Street.
6. London, UK
Tradition: Stall after stall of traditional Irish cuisine and performances by Gaelic bands and Irish dancers. Theatrical performers also march in the parade to keep you entertained until the toast to St. Patrick in Trafalgar Square, which truly kick-starts the party.
5. Kansas City, MO
Tradition: After the Irish population exploded in the 19th century, so did the epic St. Patrick’s Day parade. Every year the city selects one lucky observer for an all expenses paid trip to Ireland. So put your A-game Irish pride outfit on, because this year’s theme is “No Small Potatoes: A Tribute to the Wee Irish.” Meaning…leprechauns?
4. Savannah, GA
Tradition: This parade has it all—the green rivers and fountains of Chicago, the crowds of New Orleans, and 32 oz. “to-go” cups full of green beer. And forget “Erin Go Bragh,” Savannah goes by “Erin Go Bare.” We think you can figure out what that means.
3. Boston, MA
Tradition: Boston isn’t only known for their beans. South Boston boasts a huge Irish population and one of the biggest St. Patty’s Day parades with nearly 1,000,000 in attendance each year. Southside Boston rides this holiday out for the entire week, with block parties, beerfests and enough bands for you to shamrock ‘n’ roll until you drop.
2. Boulder, CO
Tradition: The fight for the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade rages on, with Boulder ringing in at number two. Boulder really packs the punch with their St. Patty’s parade, having a pipe & drum band escort the marchers the entire two blocks that the parade lasts. Hey, only two blocks of men in green sequined vests before you get to hit the pub. That is the Irish spirit.
1. Dublin, Ireland
Tradition: With a parade that travels down Patrick Street, ends up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and is just a few blarney stones away from the Guinness factory, you couldn’t brew up a more perfect parade. The Irish go all out, understandably, with a weeklong celebration including film festivals, fireworks and, yes, a little bit of drinking.
(Lacey Maulding is secretly French and German. But she does like corned beef.)