The Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day That Aren’t Ireland (or the U.S.)4 min read
These days, March 17th may be best known for green beer and Kiss Me, I’m Irish tee-shirts. But this holiday actually has a long history full of pomp and ritual, dating all the way back to the original Christian feast day first observed in the early 1600s. In fact, St. Patrick’s Day got its reputation for booziness in part because it falls during Lent, and the church lifted the seasonal restrictions on alcohol as part of the celebration.
Fast forward 400 years, and we’re still tipping one back come mid-March — or, if we’re being honest, several. St. Patrick’s Day has long since outgrown its Celtic roots and is now widely celebrated in more countries than any other national festival.
All of which is to say, it’s a great opportunity to find an incredible international party to attend. But aside from the obvious, where are the best places to get down on St. Patrick’s Day?
Celebrate St. Patty’s Day in These 5 Destinations
Looking for an excuse to get away from it all this spring — and still participate in everyone’s favorite first-quarter bender?
Here are some of the countries where they do St. Patrick’s Day right.
1. New Zealand
St. Patrick’s Day is well-loved down under, with both Australians and Kiwis coming out in droves to celebrate.
Auckland, in particular, brings its A-game to the occasion, hosting a four-day St. Patrick’s Day festival complete with a parade, displays of traditional dancing, authentic Irish eats and more. They also organize the annual “Greening of Auckland,” wherein the city’s best-known national landmarks are illuminated in green light to make for an even more festive backdrop. The organizers update both Facebook and Instagram pages, just in case you need some photos of the event to get you through the long flight it takes to get there.
Everyone knows Bueno Aires is no stranger to a party, and St. Patrick’s Day is no exception to the rule. In 2006, more than 50,000 people congregated in the streets to celebrate with a pint (or three) from the city’s Irish pubs.
It’s not all just about getting buzzed, though. Argentina is actually home to the fifth-largest Irish community outside of Ireland itself, so there’s definitely a spirit of pride and authenticity. Regardless, we can’t think of a better place to dance the night away than a warm March night in South America.
Danes are well-known for their overall contentment; Denmark frequently ranks amongst the happiest countries in the world.
So why wouldn’t they take the opportunity to participate in a holiday that’s all about eating, drinking and being merry?
In Copenhagen, March 17th is marked by a big hullabaloo on Town Hall Square, complete with live music, Irish step dancing and a parade. People of all ages are invited to come and “be Irish for a day” by wearing green and joining in the festivities through the streets of the capital city. There’s even a three-legged race whose proceeds go to charity!
Name a European country with a reputation for its love of beer-based festivals… aside from Ireland.
Chances are, Germany’s not too far down your list — so it makes sense that they pull out all the stops for St. Patty’s. In Munich, the holiday is marked each year by a parade, in which performers pay homage to Ireland with traditional music and dances. Food vendors are also in attendance, so you can follow up with a heaping helping of corned beef and cabbage.
5. Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Balkans might not be the first place you think of when you think of traditionally Celtic celebrations.
But Sarajevo is actually home to a vast population of Irish ex-pats, and just because they’re far from home doesn’t mean they don’t remember how to throw a proper party. In 2015, they established the Sarajevo Irish Festival, which extends the one-day St. Patrick’s Day observation into a three-day bash. Festival activities include a parade, Irish film screenings, and live concerts featuring Irish folk musicians.
No matter where in the world your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations take you, always remember to enjoy them responsibly. Name a designated driver or make plans to catch a ride, or simply stay within walking distance of the festivities.
After all, you want to be around to catch the holiday again next year… there are too many great St. Patrick’s Day parties out there to experience!