Saint Patrick’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, began as a celebration of the Irish patron saint who introduced Christianity to the Emerald Isle. Though Saint Patrick’s Day is a traditionally Catholic holiday, contemporary festivities celebrate Irish culture and heritage. More than just an excuse to sport green attire, Saint Patrick’s Day brings us a plethora of festivals and parades observed around the world as a day of fun and shenanigans. We profile ten cultural ways to celebrate Irish culture in New York City this March.
Attend the Irish Arts Center’s Annual Saint Patrick’s Open Day
The Irish Arts Center is a performing arts center that showcases the best of Irish culture through music, theatre, film, and exhibitions. Every year, the venue hosts a Saint Patrick’s Open Day to celebrate Ireland’s national holiday. The event is free and open to anyone wishing to master the tin whistle, play football with the Manhattan Gaels, learn Irish Gaelic, sketch interactive maps of Ireland, or listen to Irish folklore. There will also be music, dance, and theatrical performances in celebration of the holiday. Whether you wish to participate or simply relax with a cup of tea, the Irish Arts Center welcomes all looking to experience a taste of Ireland’s rich culture.
Irish Arts Center, 553 West 51st Street, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 757 3318
Battle Of The Dance Anaheim | © Prayitno / Thank you for (9 millions +) views/Flickr
Take a Walking Tour of NYC’s Irish Quarters
For a look at Irish history, Big Onion Walking Tours is hosting two Saint Patrick’s Day tours of Irish New York. The tours will take visitors though the former ‘Little Ireland’ district of the Lower East Side between City Hall and Houston Street and will examine the tremendous role of Irish immigrants in the city’s history. A few stops include the founding site of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, statesman Al Smith’s home, early NYC neighborhood ‘The Five Points,’ and the first Catholic Church in the city, amongst others. The tour will even unveil why Saint Patrick’s Day is more popular here in New York than in Ireland. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here.
St. Paul’s Chapel, 209 Broadway, New York, NY, USA
Get Down with The Narrowbacks and Girsa at Webster Hall
Located in the East Village, Webster Hall has been operating as a historic performance venue and nightclub since 1886. This Saint Patrick’s Day, the famed New York City performance space will host two musical groups of Irish origin: The Narrowbacks, and Girsa. The Narrowbacks churn out storytelling tunes in an American punk-meets-Irish folk twist, and Girsa will also showcase Irish hymns and ballads laced with the fiddle, accordion, and banjo. Attendees must be 18 years of age or older, and tickets are $25. End your Saint Patrick’s Day on a musical note as these two bands fill the hall with foot-stomping tunes.
Webster Hall, 125 East 11th Street, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 353 1600
Music – The Narrowbacks – Bowery Ballroom | © Steven Pisano/Flickr
Sneak a peek at Irish history at the Merchant's House Museum
Sneak a peek at Irish history at the Merchant’s House Museum
Marked on the National Register of Historic Places, the Merchant’s House Museum is the only entirely-preserved 19th century home in New York City. Inside and out, the building is one of the finest surviving examples of architecture from the 1800s. This Saint Patrick’s Day, the museum will host tours dedicated to unveiling the daily life of Irish servants who ran the household. The museum will also hold a haunted house tour, uncovering the mystery of some bizarre occurrences that took place in the servants’ quarters and unveiling spooky stories of family members who passed away in the house. These tours pay homage to the lives of Irish immigrants in 19th century New York, so learn a little while you have lots of fun.
Merchant’s House Museum, 29 Eeast 4th Street, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 777 1089
Celebrate Beer on a New York Pub Crawl
One of the biggest pub crawls in NYC is approaching, and it happens, unsurprisingly, on Saint Patrick’s Day (a holiday well known for its alcoholic indulgence). Drink and food specials will be available at all participating locations – all you need is a wristband and a map. Participating pubs include Bar None, the Village Pourhouse, Van Diemen’s, Bait and Hook, The Hill, Suite 36, PS 450, Madison Square Tavern, Howl at the Moon, Keats Bar, and Boss Tweed’s Saloon. All participating venues are within walking distance from one another, so it’s easy for you to celebrate all day long.
Taste the best Irish Whiskey
If you’re a fan of the hard stuff, Camaje Bistro is hosting a Saint Paddy’s Day event dedicated to Irish whiskey tasting. Tickets are $65 per person but include a taste of the chef’s favorite Irish spirits plus accompanying nibbles. Come by to brush up on your whiskey knowledge, and sample your way across the board.
Camaje Bistro, 85 MacDougal Street, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 673 8184
Whisky | © Phil Long/Flickr
Pay a visit to Saint Patrick's Cathedral
Pay a visit to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral
What better way to celebrate this Catholic holiday than with a visit to one of New York City’s most stunning cathedrals that is named after the man himself? Clad in marble, stone, and vivid stained glass, this impressive building can accommodate up to 3000 people, with spires standing over 300 feet tall. The cathedral’s altars were designed by world-class artists with pipe organs designed by only the most talented artisans. With its grand architectural aesthetic, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral takes up a whole city block and remains a prized landmark for locals and tourists alike. Tickets are required for their special Saint Patrick’s Day mass, which will be held at 8:30am on March 17th.
Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, 460 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, USA + 1 212 753 2261
St. Patrick’s Cathedral (New York) 1 | © Steve Kelley/Flickr
Stay Sober at the Sober St. Patrick’s Day Party
Returning for its fifth year in New York City, the Sober St. Patrick’s Day Party is an event aimed at reclaiming the true spirit of the day. In an authentic celebration of Irish culture, the event will include world-class musicians, singers, and more. Returning artists include Donie Carroll, Margie Mulvihill, Brendan Dolan, Brendan Fahey, The Fee Sisters, and Marianne McShane, with new additions to the mix such as James Keane, Jerry O’Sullivan, Séagda Coyle, Eugene Bender, Alexander Weir, and Alice Breda Ryan. Held at the New York Irish Center, tickets are $20 and include hot dogs, snacks, baked goods, coffee, tea, and soft drinks. First and foremost a celebration of Ireland’s rich culture and history, this is your opportunity to enjoy some of the more traditional festivities this city has to offer.
New York Irish Center, 1040 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY, USA + 1 718 482 0909
Attend the Annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
What is Saint Patrick’s Day without the famous NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade? Last but certainly not least, this celebration is the oldest and largest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the world. The first parade was held on March 17, 1762 (14 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence). Today, the parade route starts at Fifth Avenue beginning at East 44th Street and ending at East 79th Street. It begins at 11am and attracts about 2 million spectators annually, usually sporting green, shamrocks, and Irish flags. Experience colored floats, musical performances, bagpipers, Irish dancers, and more.
The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to 79th Street, New York, NY, USA + 1 718 231 4400