Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the UK

13 December, 2018 in Destinations, Tips for Travellers, United Kingdom & Events and Festivals

The luck of the Irish stretches to having the most delightful national day, celebrated across the globe. You have most likely heard of St. Patty’s Day, or one of the various names attributed to it, but do you actually know the origins of these festivities? And more importantly, how will you be celebrating it this year? Read up about this emerald and chartreuse tinted day, including the best ways to celebrate it right here in the UK!

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What is the history of St. Patrick’s Day?

Saint Patrick’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held annually on the 17th March. It is held in honor of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland, and is celebrated on his traditional death date. The day was made an official Christian feast day in the early 17th century, and is considered to be the arrival of Christianity in Ireland.

What is St. Paddy’s Day about now?

Nowadays, the name is often shortened to St. Paddy’s Day, and the celebrations have taken quite a turn. It has evolved into a celebration of Irish heritage and culture in general, and these celebrations tend to be extravagant and rather wild! Celebrations usually consist of public parades and festivals, cèilidhs and the wearing of green attire and shamrocks. Many unfamiliar with the festival would be shocked to enter the streets of Dublin and find what appears to be an emerald tinted society, but luckily residents will be quick to help you match. It is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as some other territories. It is the most widely celebrated national festival, with celebrations stretching to New Zealand, Argentina and Canada. This day was historically when the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted, which has propagated the holiday’s tradition of excessive alcohol consumption.

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Find a St. Patrick’s Day Parade Near You

Now wait a second before you book that flight to Dublin! Because you can celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in glorious emerald style without leaving the country, just head to one of these major parades near you!

  • London transforms St. Patrick’s Day into at least a week of festivities. It features all sorts of performances and snippets of Irish culture - from step dancing to rival Riverdance to the latest rising Irish stand-up comedians. It finally culminates in a parade and festival on the Sunday closest to St. Paddy’s Day. Enjoy delicious traditional food, performances by Irish stars from the West End, marching bands and more! One year even had a lime green Trafalgar fountain to round it off!

  • But Manchester boasts of holding the UK’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, with a procession of more than 70 floats, bands and marching groups touring the streets. It begins at the Irish World Heritage Centre, which also has dozens of events throughout the month of March. If you wish to celebrate but can’t make the day itself, Manchester is ideal given their two-week long irish festival of music, art, dance, drink, food and comedy during the first half of March.

  • Of course Edinburgh knows how to celebrate in style, with the immense Festival of Ireland featuring concerts, Irish dancing and classic Irish films. This week long festival is engaging and alive with energy, it will keep you grooving till the early hours.

  • Birmingham claims to have the “third biggest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world” on the Saturday or Sunday of St. Paddy’s Day weekend. It attracts over 100,000 people and begins at Digbeth High Street with over 60 floats and 1,000 marchers. They also have a week long Irish festival, but create a multi-cultural affair with Welsh dragons, Chinese dragons and Caribbean dancers all joining.

  • Northern Ireland has far too many celebrations for us to even begin listing them, so instead we’ll guide you to the Belfast Telegraph who can detail them all for you! It is true that celebrating in the home of Patrick will rival any other celebrations...

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Other Ways to Celebrate

Perhaps you’re not a fan of the crowds, perhaps the dates just don’t work for you, that is alright! Here are some other ideas of ways to celebrate the emerald isle from the UK!

  • Raise a pint in an authentic Irish pub! Grab a green hat, some pals and find your closest Irish pub. They are guaranteed to be decorated and celebrating, and it will ensure a cosy and fun evening. Check out these top Irish pubs in London if you’re in the area. In Edinburgh, you must try Malones or Biddy Mulligans for the most authentic experience, complete with live music, food, drink and plenty of great craic! Or check out this list of the best Irish pubs in Scotland to celebrate at!

  • Enjoy some live Irish music! If you’re near Birmingham you simply must check out The Emerald Village for free live music from 2pm until “late”.

  • If you hope to celebrate with the whole family, then we recommend driving over to Nottingham. They celebrate with the usual parade and festival, but also have numerous children’s workshops. The kids will be happily painted into little leprechauns, and the adults will be happily enjoying a drink together!

  • Why not have your own St. Patrick’s Day celebrations? Invite over a good group of people, organise some fun family activities for you all to do together. You can also check out these magical ideas to keep the little leprechauns happy, while you enjoy a traditional pint with the adults. Be sure to keep the festivities going with some delicious food to fill everyone’s stomachs (and ensure the guinness drinking can continue!). Creating themed food will both delight and fill everyone, so look for some great St. Paddy’s day themed recipes here.

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We hope that these ideas can provide you with a day full of food, drink, fun and some good craic! Whether you head to a bustling St. Patrick’s Day Parade or choose to spend it at home with the family and green frosted cupcakes, it is a day for celebrating with those close to you and blowing off a bit of steam!