The Irish are a well-travelled bunch. Millions of people all over the world have Irish roots so it’s no surprise that Ireland’s national holiday has become an international celebration. People all over the globe don their finest green clothing and drink pints of the black stuff to rejoice in their Irish heritage. So, don’t worry if you can’t be in the motherland on the 17th of March, there are plenty of great places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day outside Ireland.
Birmingham was one of the first cities in the UK to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The Second City first got involved in 1952. Currently, Birmingham has the third largest parade in the world. It attracts around 90,000 people a year, only New York and Dublin can boast bigger numbers. This year’s event will be headlined by Dublin folk legend Finbar Furey. Find out more about the festival here.
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“They drink a lot in Ireland and they drink a whole lot in Denmark, so it’s a perfect combination of cultures!”, according to a recent Copenhagen parade attendee. The Irish take over Copenhagen’s Rådhuspladsen on the 17th of March with decorations, face-painting, a costume shop, and of course, Irish bars. The organisers’ website says, “Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day”, and when you experience their parade you’ll feel like you’re in Dublin.
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The Irish population in Berlin is growing every year, and with more Irish people moving to the German capital, the celebrations get bigger too. There are loads of Irish bars in Berlin where pints will be flowing, music will be pumping and the craic will be mighty. Berlin’s festival has plenty of events on over the weekend. Check out their website to find out what’s happening on St. Patrick’s Day in Berlin.
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“All along the banks, of the ‘Dam’s canals…” Okay, they might not be the actual lyrics to The Dubliners’ iconic ballad, but when you’re in Amsterdam on St. Patrick’s Day you won’t have to go far to hear classic Irish songs like The Auld Triangle. Running since 2014, Amsterdam’s Paddy’s Day festival grows in popularity every year and with a host of Irish bars in the city’s buzzing squares you’ll feel like you’re standing in Temple Bar.
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Italia ’90, chippers and John Travolta. Ireland and Italy have a lot in common, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of Europe’s best St. Patrick’s Day festivals happens in Italy. Every year over 25,000 people descend on the historic university town of Padua, just a short drive from Treviso, to have a party at “Festa Irlandese”. It’s completely free to attend, and pasta with Guinness isn’t as weird as it sounds.
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Barcelona hosts a number of events throughout the city to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The city is taken over by Irish expats, locals and tourists with a festival atmosphere to rival anywhere in Europe. You can pop into any of the many Irish bars in the city, join in the street party organised by Kitty O’Shea’s pub in the Les Corts area of Barcelona, or go for a pub crawl down Las Ramblas.
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Originally organised by the German-Irish Society of Bavaria in 1996, Munich’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations continue to grow every year – in both attendance and scale. We’re not surprised Munich is home to one of Europe’s biggest Paddy’s Day festivals. There’s a large Irish community in Bavaria, and the locals are known to enjoy a few drinks too. Just swap the mug of Paulaner for a pint of Guinness and it’s basically Oktoberfest with more shamrocks.
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With an ever-growing Irish population in the French capital and plenty of Irish-American tourists, Paris is one of the most popular destinations to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Europe. They organise a number of events with music, dance, beer and a fantastic parade through the city’s streets. Find out more about St. Patrick’s Day in Paris here.
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England’s capital becomes flooded with green during the Paddy’s Day festivities. With a huge Irish community in London and numerous events on during the festival, you won’t even notice you’re not in Ireland. If you get a chance in between all the events and activities, head to Kilburn in North London where you’ll find a number of Irish shops selling delicacies such as Tayto crisps and Club Orange to really get in the spirit of things!
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As mentioned above, Italy and Ireland have a strong connection – which is why another Italian St. Patrick’s Day festival makes our list. Milan might not have a traditional parade or organised festival, but that doesn’t stop locals, tourists and expats turning the city into Ireland for the day. Walk into any Irish bar in the city and you’ll be greeted with a sea of green and a chorus of Irish tunes. Bellissimó.
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The Benelux region of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg has a population of around 30,000 Irish people, with roughly 10,000 of them in Belgium. This makes Brussels’ St. Patrick’s Day festivities one of Europe’s finest. People from different cultural backgrounds flock to the Belgium capital to revel in the party atmosphere and get a taste of the craic Irish people are famous for.
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If there’s one city outside Ireland that knows how to do Paddy’s Day, it’s Edinburgh. The Scottish capital goes all out, with live music and shows every night with acts like Jedward and B*Bitched (the drag homage to legendary girl group B*Witched) performing, and certain pubs around Cowgate even offer free fry ups to help cure the hangover you’ll probably have the next morning. See what’s on in Edinburgh here.
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St. Patrick’s Day is increasing in popularity with every passing year in Prague, so much so that Irish bars in the Czech capital often spread out the celebrations for an entire weekend or sometimes even the whole week. Some of our favourite pubs for a pint are James Joyce Irish Pub, Rocky O’Reilly’s and the Dubliner Irish Bar. Or just look out for any Irish flags flying. Trust us, there’ll be plenty.
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Ireland and Portugal have always had a good relationship and share some similarities. Both have the Atlantic Ocean on its coast, both have Celtic ancestry and both know how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day properly. Lisbon has almost too many options to choose from, with plenty of bars all over the city, but we recommend heading to Cais do Sodré to experience the atmosphere in one of Lisbon’s coolest spots.
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For anyone who wants an authentic Irish experience, but can’t make it to Ireland for some reason, Glasgow is the next best option. With comedy events, live music and pubs on nearly every corner, Glasgow is an ideal place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day outside Ireland. You might even be lucky and get to watch a Celtic match while you’re there, it doesn’t get much more Irish than that!
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The Norwegian Irish Society run events throughout the year for Irish expats in Scandinavia, but they really come into their own on St. Patrick’s Day. Oslo has one of Europe’s most exciting parades as they celebrate their roots with a day full of Irish music, dance and culture. Find out more on the Norwegian Irish Society’s website.
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Paddy’s Day is known for its colourful parades, flowing Guinness and green crowds, but in Lithuania they go one step further. The people of Vilnius celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by turning the Vilnele River green! The river separates Vilnius from the bohemian republic of Uzupis, not dissimilar to the Liffey separating the north and south sides of Dublin. You can expect loads of fun activities such as music, food and a model Guinness ship floating down the river.
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You don’t have to be in Ireland to get into the festive spirit. Ireland’s national day is recognised all over the world, and you can visit the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Europe with Ryanair!
- Seán Walsh