Being Irish in New York on St Patrick's Day is really a special time - and it doesn't always have to involve a trip to the pub!
“There are two types of Americans on St Patrick’s Day: those who are Irish and those who lack ambition.” So goes the old joke which captures the love for Ireland across America, a continent with 40 million people of Irish descent.
There are wonderful parades and dances and festivals to celebrate the Irish national day all over New York and all over the country, which is also a harbinger of spring.
Here are some suggestions for how to spend St. Patrick's Day in New York City that don't involve a pub:
Sober St. Patrick's Day
Join the "Sober St. Patrick's Day" hooley. Billed as the ultimate family-friendly party, the event features trad music, dancing, actors and storytellers. For St. Patrick's Day 2020, the event will be hosted in New York, Connecticut, Virginia, Rhode Island, as well as Dublin.
The New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade
Celebrate all that is Irish by joining some 150,00 people at the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17. What could be better than marching up Fifth Avenue in the all-inclusive Irish celebration?
Search online for news about other Irish activities and news on IrishCentral or Irish America magazine. The Irish Arts Center has many fun activities, including handing out books by Irish authors on March 17.
Play the part
Get in touch with your Irish roots by taking lessons in the uilleann pipes (there are now thousands of pipers worldwide up from fewer than a hundred 20 years ago), or if that's too complex, try the bodhran drum or the tin whistle.
Buy anything Irish: tweeds, Aran sweater, jewelry, crystal, Irish cheeses, anything except those t-shirts which say we Irish are drunken bums.
Learn "cúpla focal"
Indulge in the Irish arts
Read a book of Irish poetry with your family and friends (the Penguin collection features three Nobel Laureates: Seamus Heaney, Samuel Beckett, and W.B. Yeats) or read "How the Irish Saved Civilization" by Thomas Cahill.
Or watch some great Irish movies recommended such as "Once," "The Crying Game," "The Snapper," and "My Left Foot."
The first observance of St Patrick’s Day was in 1737 by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston when they coordinated charitable works for the Irish community. Why not volunteer with City Harvest or any NYC-based charity during the day to honor this truly authentic way of celebrating the day?
Head downtown to a walking tour of Irish sites such as the Irish Hunger (Famine) Memorial in Battery Park, or the Shrine of St Elizabeth Seton at the Holy Rosary mission in State Street.
Lá Fhéile Phádraig sona daoibh!
*Originally published in 2016, updated in 2020
How do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in New York City? Share in the comments, or drop us a line!