With a diaspora in the millions, Irish heritage has spread far and wide and it's never more obvious than 17 March, St Patrick's Day.

Thankfully, you don't need to claim Irish ancestry to join the party and, with Patrick's Day celebrations taking place across the globe, you won't even need to travel far. If you can't make it to Ireland, these cities are the next best thing to celebrate the occasion.

A woman in traditional Bavarian dress walks in Munich's St Patrick's Day parade waving two Irish flags
The 2019 Patrick's Day parade in Munich © NurPhoto / Getty

1. Munich

Bavarians already have their own boozy celebration – Oktoberfest – so it’s hardly a surprise that they’ve readily embraced another one. Munich has observed Paddy’s for over two decades now; with city-wide festivities, live music and an impressive parade attracting thousands of people year-on-year. The official Munich St Patrick’s Day events sometimes kick off the weekend before 17 March, so be sure to check ahead of time to ensure you don’t miss out on any of the revelry.  

2. New York

With average numbers of around two million people visiting to see its annual parade, the Big Apple can get pretty crowded on St Patrick’s Day. It’s been like this for quite a while; New York has marked the feast of St Patrick since 1762, a full 14 years before the United States declared independence from Britain. To this day the parade is mostly run by enthusiastic volunteers, many of whom identify as part of the city’s half-a-million-plus Irish American community.

A man dressed in green holds a puppet with a green beard, suit and hat.
New Yorkers have a long tradition of Patrick's Day parades © Stuart Monk / Shutterstock

Dubliner Tadgh Bolger was one of the 150,000 who marched in the New York parade a few years ago, when Ireland’s national lacrosse team was invited to participate. “The scale and size of it was absolutely incredible; unlike anything I’ve seen pretty much anywhere else,” he says. “Anyone who wants to experience St Patrick’s Day should definitely consider New York.” Visitors should expect the colour green, a lot of Guinness and a likely hangover the next day.

3. Buenos Aires  

Argentina boasts the fifth-largest Irish diaspora of any country, as well as the largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the non-English-speaking world. Better known as  El Dia de San Patricio, Buenos Aires’ event is overseen by the country’s Irish Embassy and the Argentina–Ireland Association. An all-night street party in the city centre means that visitors can enjoy drinking, local variations of traditional dishes, and a night so good that they probably won’t be able to remember much of it. Salud!  

4. Montserrat

This Caribbean country does things a little bit differently than the rest of the places on our list. The people of Montserrat mark St Patrick’s Day as a way of commemorating their freedom from colonial rule. Many of the first European settlers to arrive on the island were of Irish descent and 17 March is the anniversary of a failed slave revolt that took place against them back in 1768. St Patrick’s Day is so important to Montserratians that it’s considered a public holiday, and celebrations run for a full week. Past events have included a freedom run, dancing and, of course, spectacular parades.

A woman dressed in orange, white and green holding a green and white umbrella on the beach on a sunny day
St Patrick's Day festival, Little Bay, Montserrat © Mark Read / Lonely Planet

5. Sydney 

Hundreds of thousands of Australians cite Irish heritage. This is probably why Sydney has developed such an affinity for St Patrick’s Day, which sees an enormous green cavalcade march through the city, as well as the famous Hyde Park. There are plenty of music and cultural events to boot.

Sydney’s St Patrick’s Day is a bit more of a family affair than its Munich or New York counterparts. "But there’s certainly still a lot going on," explains Irish man Séamus Ó Cuilleanáin, who was living in the city for the festivities recently. "The Australians take it pretty seriously; all the Irish pubs are rammed all day. My employer rang me the morning of it, asking if I was going into work. I said: 'Wouldn’t it make more sense to ask me if I was coming in tomorrow instead?'"

People in shorts and T-shirts hold up a banner saying 'Bondi Shamrocks' in a St Patrick's Day parade
Sydney is a popular spot for Irish emigrants © Greg Wood/Getty

6. Chicago

The Chicago River runs a luminous green every year on St Patrick’s Day, with officials dyeing it using a closely guarded formula. Many pubs and bars have in turn been inspired to dye their beer as well, so prepare for a colourful day of drinking if you decide on venturing to Chicago’s world-famous celebrations. The Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) has personally participated in the procession in recent years, alongside a lineup of celebrities and thousands of punters donned in full leprechaun regalia. A word to the wise: stay away from the Chicago Guinness and drink a locally brewed beer instead.   

A green river runs through Chicago for the city's St Patrick's Day celebrations
Chicago's green river is now a tradition © berni0004/Shutterstock

7. Tokyo 

There are only a few thousand people from Ireland living in Japan, but that hasn’t stopped the land of the rising sun from loving Irish culture: Tokyo is home to the oldest, largest, and most extravagant St Patrick’s in all of Asia. Visitors are treated to a day of cultural events at Yoyogi Park, typically followed by a large, ornate parade through the city the following day. The Japanese put on St Patrick’s Day with a real sense of pageantry: costumes, music, and even traditional Japanese attire dyed green.  

You might also like:

7 festivals worth the flight this March
How to celebrate Carnival in Spain
Kurentovanje: the wildest Mardi Gras celebration you've never heard of

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