If you’re planning on celebrating your Irishness this next March (or getting yourself adopted for the day), the most obvious place to head is Dublin. But not everyone can get there – plus prices are high, half a million people descend on the capital for the parade, and it’s hard to find a place to stay. The good news is, with so many Irish expats around the world it won’t be just Dublin that’s partying. Why not release your inner leprechaun in one of these five places instead.
Probably one of the best-known Irish diaspora communities lies in the Windy City, and they’ve built up some unusual ways of celebrating – such as dyeing the river green at 10am on the day of the parade. Be warned that the parade in Chicago always goes ahead whatever the weather, and is always on a Saturday – the one preceding St Paddy’s day, if they don’t coincide.
Monserrate, The Caribbean
As Montserrat came under English control when Irish indentured servants were forced from the nearby island of Nevis, it’s perhaps little surprise that it’s the only place outside Ireland and Canada where St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday. This emerald isle of the Caribbean celebrates many aspects of its unique heritage on the special day, not least the “freedom run” commemorating the failed uprising in 1768. And it’s a lot sunnier than Dublin.
Birmingham’s rich Irish heritage is such that there’s long been a whole festival dedicated to St Patrick rather than just a single day. This begins the Friday evening before the Sunday of the parade and features a flower show, literary evenings, dance, music, drama and an art exhibition. This year the parade will be led by a team marking the coming of the Olympics to the UK. Probably the single most colourful event is the fundraising balloon race, when thousands of balloons are released into the sky at noon.
Seoul, South Korea
Seoul might be the last place that springs to mind when someone mentions St Patrick’s Day, but the Irish Association of Korea has been working hard to change that. With over 15,000 supporters at the most recent events, the celebrations look set to grow as more and more local businesses and sponsors get involved. There’s no parade this year but Korean-grown traditional and rock-based Irish music will be the centrepiece of a flamboyant festival instead, not to mention a display of gaelic football, face-painting, food and plenty more.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is unquestionably a party place. There are a variety of ways to celebrate “La Fiesta de San Patricio” here, from a parade to fancy dress leprechaun competitions, but the one best (or perhaps least) remembered by returning visitors is the traditional Buenos Aires pub crawl. These bar-hopping expeditions happen all year of course, but green pizza and green beer is a unique way to kick things off on St. Paddy’s Day. Some 500,000 Argentines are of Irish descent so it’s no surprise that the festival began as a purely religious affair – though the secular side has flourished in the centuries since.