SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - If the luck of the Irish is with you, there will be shamrocks, Guinness and a party of fine friends to share your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 17th. Dublin won’t be the only city decked out in green for the festivities honoring the patron saint of Ireland, so that’s why online travel consultant Hotwire (www.hotwire.com) has helpfully provided this list of its Top 10 St. Patrick’s Day destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Chicago, Illinois Besides offering delicious deep-dish pizza and wonderful views of Lake Michigan, the Windy City is home to one of the most spectacular St. Patrick’s Day displays in the world. Every year, thousands of festive Midwesterners take the train downtown to celebrate the holiday and witness the dyeing of the Chicago River. Using over 40 pounds of environmentally friendly coloring, the river stays green for an entire day, providing the perfect backdrop for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and throngs of enthusiastic locals.
2. Boston, Massachusetts
As home to a thriving and Irish pub scene and the Celtic-influenced punk rock group Dropkick Murphys, Boston is a prime spot for celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. Every year, the city holds one of the biggest parades and boasts party after party at one of their many vibrant pubs. Visitors can also walk along the city’s Irish Heritage Trail, which begins at the Rose Kennedy Garden and ends near Fenway Park, to experience firsthand the rich Irish background behind some of the city’s most beloved historical areas.
3. Dublin, Ireland
What better place to celebrate an Irish holiday than, well, Ireland? Last year, an estimated 500,000 festive folks flocked to the city to celebrate the holiday and enjoy a few pints from the Emerald Isle. This year, the city is putting a spin on its annual parade with a new theme of the “People’s Parade,” allowing 8,000 people from around the world to sign up to be in the ceremony and take in the electrifying atmosphere as they march down the historic streets. Dublin travelers can also pay a visit to the Guinness brewery to enjoy a fine beer straight from the source or watch some of the city’s historical buildings light up in festive colors for the Greening of the City.
4. Florence, Italy
It may not seem like your typical St. Patrick’s Day destination, but from March 17th through March 22nd, Florence honors the patron saint of Ireland with a ‘Festa Irlandese,’ or Irish Festival. During this festival, the city offers an Italian spin on the holiday while also hosting pub crawls, live music and of course, alcohol in spades. And those interested in the ultimate Irish pub experience can head to Finnegan’s, which is said to be the only Irish-owned pub in the city.
5. London, England
Many of the cities on this list have St. Patrick’s Day Parades; in fact, London’s celebration drew over 100,000 guests last year. But London also hosts a holiday festival at Trafalgar Square that’s full of Irish traditions, like music and dance, which are perfect for families and free to enjoy. In addition, London offers more authentic Irish-owned pubs than any other city outside of the Emerald Isle, so folks can enjoy some of Europe’s finest - and oldest - Irish whiskeys and beers.
6. San Francisco, California
As home to one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the Western United States, San Francisco offers an eclectic mix of cultural festivities, night life and crowds of enthusiastic locals. Folks can attend the St. Patrick’s Day-themed NightLife event at the California Academy of Science the Thursday before the holiday weekend, check out the famous Market Street parade or pay a visit to San Francisco’s Irish Cultural Center, which hosts its annual “Greenfest Block Party” with Irish cultural activities, music and dancing.
7. Newfoundland, Canada
Newfoundland is a historically Irish locale, with immigrants from the Emerald Isle reaching the small island off the coast of Canada back in the 17th century. One of the island’s main city centers, in fact, is now known as the “Irish Loop” after the settlers who helped found it. As an area of such rich heritage, Newfoundland has declared St. Patrick’s Day a public holiday - making it only one of two cities outside of Ireland to do so. Because of its deep ties to the Irish culture, Newfoundland is the perfect place for visitors who want to enjoy some traditional Irish dishes and wash them down with a nice pint afterwards.
8. Sydney, Australia
St. Patrick’s Day celebrators shouldn’t forget about our friends Down Under. Sydney, Australia boasts a gigantic St. Patrick’s Day Parade of its own, complete with an overarching narrative and themed floats, but it might be most notable for its party scene. On St. Patty’s, the Sydney pubs and bars stay open until the wee hours, serving up traditional Irish music and Jameson in equal proportion. Those with stronger stomachs and more grandiose party appetites can also check out the St. Patrick’s Day Booze Cruise, which sails through Sydney harbor for three crazy hours of holiday celebration.
9. Buenos Aires, Argentina
In March, Buenos Aires boasts near-perfect weather, and when you take into account it has the fifth largest Irish community globally, there may be no better time than the present to pay a visit to Argentina. With narrow streets and its very own city-wide parade, Buenos Aires offers an authentic experience, as well as a crowded, rambunctious city geography that lends itself to international celebrations like this one.
10. New York, New York
New York’s St. Patrick’s Day parade has been running for over 250 years, and much like its Thanksgiving Day parade, it’s a doozy and is known internationally. While other celebrations would be ecstatic just to draw crowds of 100,000, New York’s parade has been known to feature over 150,000 marchers alone. Visitors can visit the many Irish pubs, partake in a walking tour of former “Little Ireland” or even create Irish-inspired crafts over in Central Park.
Editing by Paul Casciato