There’s no better place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in America than in the Northeast. The Northeast corridor is rich with Irish-American history and eager to pay homage to the Emerald Isle. This year, St. Patrick’s Day is on a weekend, falling on Sunday, March 17. It’s the perfect time for a celebration. The best way to revel in Irish culture is to go to one of the Northeast’s famous St. Patrick’s Day parades.
American St. Patrick’s Day parades are about more than St. Patrick himself. They’re about the Irish diaspora, and the celebration of Irish-American culture. Whether you’re Irish or not, you’re sure to receive a hundred thousand welcomes at one of these St. Patrick’s Day parades.
New York City
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the oldest civilian parades in the world. It’s been running since 1762 and gets bigger every year. There are usually 150,000 to 250,000 marchers, and around 2 million spectators decked out in green.
The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches north along Fifth Avenue, from 44th to 79th Street. Along the way, it passes by St. Patrick’s Cathedral, named after the very same patron saint of Ireland.
There are no floats in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but there are plenty of marching bands, scores of bagpipes, Irish step dancers and local politicians wearing green ties. The parade is led, as always, by the “Irish” 69th Infantry Regiment, and includes many Emerald societies – organizations for firefighters and police officers of Irish descent.
You can catch this parade from anywhere along Fifth Avenue. Make sure to get to your spot early, though. The parade is on Saturday, March 16, and lasts from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
St. Patrick’s Day is actually a legal holiday in Boston (and surrounding Suffolk County), thanks to Evacuation Day, the anniversary of the retreat of 3,000 British troops from Boston during the Revolutionary War. The first observance of St. Patrick’s Day in the Colonies was in Boston in 1737. New York City didn’t catch up until 1762. This March marks the 118th South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The parade snakes around West and East Broadway and Dorchester Street, ending in Andrew Square. It’s estimated that around 600,000 to 1 million spectators attend.
At the parade, you can expect to see pipe bands from Ireland and the U.S., marching bands, colorful floats and Emerald societies.
The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on Sunday, March 18, from 1 to 3:30 p.m.
Operating since 1842, the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the oldest parades in the country. Three thousand people march in the parade, and around 300,000 spectators attend.
The Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade twists through the streets of New Haven, from Chapel Street at Sherman Avenue to Orange Street. At the parade, you’ll be able to see historical re-enactors, pipe and drum bands, Irish dancers, an honor guard, marching bands, drill teams, fife and drum corps, floats and vintage cars. The Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade also crowns a parade queen in addition to the traditional grand marshal.
The Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade traditionally takes place the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. This year, the parade is on Sunday, March 10, at 1:30 p.m.
Newport, R.I., loves St. Patrick’s Day. (It even has a sister city – Kinsale – in the Emerald Isle.) Parade organizers hold a Half-Way to St. Patrick’s Day festival every September to raise money for the March extravaganza. The Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade rings in its 63rd anniversary this year.
The route of the Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade traces the shoreline, going from Newport City Hall to Saint Augustin’s Church in the Fifth Ward. The parade is populated by pipe bands, local organizations, fife and drum corps, historical re-enactors, clowns, Emerald societies, step dancing students and school music groups. There’s also a group called “Friends of World’s Biggest Leprechaun” and I don’t know what that is, but it’s certainly on theme.
After the parade, there are several community events. The St. Patrick’s Day Family Celebration, at the Martin Recreation Center, has bagpipers, step dancers, face painting and more. You might even win a prize.
The Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade is on Saturday, March 16, from 11 a.m. to around 1 p.m.
So, what are you waiting for? Head out there and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the Northeast! I’m sure the road will rise up to meet you, and the wind will be at your back.
Have you ever been to a St. Patrick’s Day Parade? What was the best part? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for a place to stay near one of these parades? Book a hotel room with AAA.
This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.