No parade? No worries! Celebrate St Patrick online this year
Sure it’s unfortunate that we can’t party for St Patrick’s Day as we usually do, greeting friends at pubs and parades. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still celebrate Ireland – you can take in lively concerts, virtual parades, literary readings and so much more, no matter where in the world you are! Here’s a roundup of our very top picks to make March 17 – and indeed, the whole St Patrick’s Season – special.
Biggest extravaganza: St Patrick’s Festival
The St Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin is ordinarily a true spectacle, with days of activities capped off by a magnificent, carnival-style parade replete with colorful floats, costumed dancers, and street performers galore. This year, you don’t have to be in Dublin to join the party – you can watch more than live 100 events over six days. The festival’s theme is “Dúisigh Éire! Awaken Ireland!” and it’s a clarion call to everyone across the world to throw off the long, dark months and rise to embrace the brighter days ahead. Catch all the fun from March 12 – 17 on www.StPatricksFestival.ie.
Most classic: NY St Patrick’s Day parade
New York City’s big parade up Fifth Avenue is the oldest, largest, and most historic in the world – it’s been held every year since 1762. This year a small band of marchers will continue the tradition for the 260th time, though the spectators will be online. At 8:30, you can watch a live broadcast of a special St Patrick's Day Mass at New York City's iconic St Patrick's Cathedral. Then at 10, there will be a virtual parade, followed by a festive hour-long streamed show on Facebook with entertainment and greetings from Irish and American leaders, as well as videos from members of the armed services abroad. At 7 pm WNBC in New York will host an hour-long show on the parade. The full schedule with links for all the activities is on the NYCStPatricksParade.org website.
If the heritage of the parade piques your interest, join the New York Irish Center for an online salute called “History Loves a Parade”, with some top historians of Irish-America and guest musicians including Phil Coulter. Register at the New York Irish Center’s website – it’s on March 17 at 4 pm.
Top for family-friendly fun: Sober St Patrick’s Day
While “drowning the shamrock” is a traditional way to celebrate the day, the organizers at Sober St Patrick’s Day want to show you don’t need a drink to enjoy a hooley. This family-friendly party celebrating Irish culture and the legacy of St Patrick marks its tenth anniversary this year. The entertainment is world-class, with some of traditional music’s best players of the accordion, fiddle, guitar, uilleann pipes and more joining forces with singers and dancers for several hours of powerful entertainment. Tickets for the annual event in New York City usually sell out, but this year the musical mix will be free to everyone around the globe, with hosts in both New York and Ireland. Sign up at SoberStPatricksDay.org. The event is on at 4 pm NY time, 8 pm Irish time (the usual five-hour time difference is reduced to four thanks to the US changing to Daylight Savings Time first).
Best hashtag: #RTEVirtualParade
This one lets you join in the fun. It started last year; with all the parades shut down, people took to their living rooms, back gardens, and driveways for tiny celebrations. The celebrations featured families marching in their driveways, children on toy cars and trucks, stuffed-animal audiences, musicians young and old, glittery shamrock headpieces, and a lot of joy. Watch it on Twitter, and maybe you’ll be inspired to gather the kids or grandkids, grab a flag, and march around your own backyard.
Best way to start the day: Safe Home Ireland’s Lunchtime Concert (that’s breakfast time for North Americans)
Safe Home Ireland is a wonderful charitable organization that helps older Irish emigrants return home after many years away and settle back into Irish life. Their St Patrick’s Day concert is sure to be a heartwarming treat, with plenty of fantastic musicians, singers, and dancers zooming in from Ireland and around the world. Thanks to the time difference, if you’re in the US or Canada it could be the perfect way to kick off your celebrations over breakfast. Watch it on Safe Home Ireland’s Facebook page, starting at 1 pm Irish time, 9 am EST.
Most literary: Irish Arts Center Book Day
Every year, the Irish Arts Center celebrates St Patrick’s Day by distributing free books across New York City, showcasing Ireland’s splendid literary heritage. This year, the IAC will be donating books to community centers around the city, and inviting civic leaders and community members from around the city to read work by authors from Ireland and the Irish diaspora. Tune in throughout the day – there’ll be readings every half-hour, starting at 8 am. The Irish Arts Center has several other great events on this month, including a lecture by legendary musician Mick Moloney on March 10 that highlights St Patrick’s Day around the globe. Check out all their events on IrishArtsCenter.org.