7 Amazing St. Patrick’s Day Parades in the United States

 

Plan Your Parade Route for St. Patrick’s Day

Grab the green (or orange) from the back of the closet, it’s time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Whether you’re craving a taste of Ireland or just love a good parade, Irish Americans know how to throw a serious party every spring. 

We’ve put together a list of seriously epic celebrations for everyone looking to take their festivities up a notch this year. From 5th Avenue in New York City to the southern charm of Savannah, there’s a parade where every American, young or old, Irish or not, will feel right at home.

Let’s march!

1. New York City, New York: The Largest Parade in the World

Did you know the Big Apple hosts the largest and oldest continuously running St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world?

They’ve been at it so long, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in New York are actually older than the United States itself. The first known festivities were held on March 17th, 1762–over a decade before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Now, over 150,000 participants march down 5th Avenue, past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, decked out in green and filling the air with lively music and the spirit of Ireland. If you think the marchers are a spectacle, wait until you hear about the over 2 million spectators who line up each year to watch it all happen! 

2. Boston, Massachusetts: The Historic Heart

Boston takes its St. Patrick’s Day parade seriously, with a history that dates back to 1737. This city’s Irish roots run deep, making its parade a heartfelt tribute to Irish culture and history. Notably, the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the thirteen colonies was put on by Irish Protestants.

Now, the parade has moved to the historically Irish neighborhood of South Boston and pulls in audiences as large as 1 million people. Coincidentally, the parade pulls double duty, celebrating the anniversary of Evacuation Day–when the British troops were expelled from the city on March 17, 1776.

Kayakers and boaters on the Chicago River for St. Patrick's Day.
Kayakers paddle along a bright-green river during the annual dying of the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. 3/14/2015

3. Chicago, Illinois: The River Runs Green

Surely you’ve heard of green beer on St. Patrick’s Day, but how about a green river?

St. Patrick’s Day parade is famous not just for its impressive turnout but for the magical moment when the Chicago River is dyed a bright emerald green. About 40 pounds of vegetable-based green dye are poured into the river to the delight of hundreds of thousands of spectators. This celebration has become so popular, other cities, including the next on our list, have taken to dying their own rivers green!

4. Savannah, Georgia: The Southern Charm

When you find yourself down in Dixie in the spring, make your way to Savannah for the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the south and one that is marking their 200th anniversary in 2024. With beautiful parks and historic squares as the backdrop, the parade offers a unique blend of bagpipes, high school bands, and Irish dancers.

Now, if you’re looking for the oldest parade in the region, trip on down to St. Augustine, Florida, who first held their St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1601. “Wait a second,” you might be thinking, “I thought I just read New York had the oldest parade and Boston had the first celebration in the country?” Well, yes, but Florida was a Spanish colony and was not part of the United States until 1845!

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: The City of Brotherly Love Goes Green

Philadelphia’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the country’s oldest, dating back to 1771. This event is a vibrant display of Irish culture, with dozens of marching bands, dance groups, and floats. The parade route along Market Street turns into a lively celebration of Irish heritage, drawing families, friends, and revelers from near and far.

While not quite as large as New York City’s show-stopping procession, over 20,000 locals join the parade as marching bands, dance troops, Irish societies and more.

Miss San Francisco rides in an old-fashioned car in the San Francisco St. Patrick's Day parade.

6. San Francisco, California: The West Coast Celebration

If you love St. Patrick’s Day parades and Market Streets, but can’t make it to Philadelphia, boy do we have a treat for you. San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day parade not only brings a touch of Irish charm to the West Coast, it also marches down Market Street!

With over 150 years of history, this parade highlights a day filled with fun, where the city’s diverse community comes together to celebrate Ireland’s rich traditions. For those of us who prefer to soak in the atmosphere without getting steps in, San Francisco also offers a free music festival–sponsored by Guinness and Aer Lingus.

7. Kansas City, Missouri: The Heartland’s Hooray

Last, but certainly not least, is Kansas City, home to a St. Patrick’s Day parade that brings the cheer of the Emerald Isle to America’s heartland. This family-friendly event is known for its creative floats, spirited music, and, of course, lots of green.

What sets this procession apart from the rest is a special theme every year including “Peace in Ireland” in 1996, “An Irish Tribute to Walt Disney” in 2006, and “Blarney on Broadway” in 2016.

A Taste of Home with Tommy Moloney’s

So, there you have it–seven of the biggest and best St. Patrick’s Day parades across the United States.

If, like us, all of this is St. Paddy’s talk is making you crave Bangers & Mash, well, you’re in luck! Tommy Moloney’s is here with all of your favorite premium Irish meats.

Tommy Moloneys