Parades, trivia, and live music: 20 ways to celebrate St. Patricks Day in NYC

Posted On Tue, March 3, 2020 By

Posted On Tue, March 3, 2020 By In Events, Features, holidays

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

St. Patrick’s Day takes place on Tuesday, March 17 this year but in NYC, it’s much bigger than just the official holiday. Celebrations get an early start and run throughout the month with a whopping nine parades dedicated to the holiday (some have already taken place but you still have plenty to choose from). Of course, many of the festivities are known for being raucous and alcohol-fueled, but there are many other ways you can celebrate: from taking a walking tour in the former “Little Ireland” area of the Lower East Side, to learning how to bake Irish soda bread and shamrock macaroons, to getting competitive in an Irish-themed trivia night. Ahead, we rounded up 20 options and none of them involve waking up early to snag a seat at McSorley’s.

Parades

1. Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Saturday, March 7 at 1 pm
129th Street and Newport Avenue

In addition to the big Manhattan parade, there are a handful of smaller parades throughout the boroughs that bring local Irish communities together. In Rockaway Beach, the 45th annual Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be led by Gerard Fitzgerald, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York (UFA). The event takes place on the first Saturday of the month making it a great pre-celebration. If you’re an early bird you may also consider attending a full choral mass at nearby St. Francis de Sales Church beginning at 9 am.

2. Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Sunday, March 15 at 1 pm
15th Street and Prospect Park West

The Brooklyn Parade started in 1976—the year the United States celebrated its bicentennial—to honor Irish contributions to the borough. This year’s theme is “Salute to Irish Dance” and the Grand Marshal will be Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher. A full day of activities takes place around the parade, beginning with morning mass at Holy Name of Jesus Church and ending with an afterparty from 3-6 pm featuring a traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner (make sure to RSVP by March 9 for that). The parade organizers recently put a call out for additional marchers (especially community groups that have not previously marched) so if you want to get off the sidelines this year, get in touch!

3. Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Sunday, March 15 at 12 pm
East Tremont and Lafayette Avenues

This year marks the 22nd annual Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Bronx. The day begins with mass and complimentary breakfast at St. Benedict’s Church (2969 Otis Avenue), with the parade starting promptly at Noon. The celebration will continue with food, drinks, and live music at Brewski’s Bar and Grill (which has a new beer garden) from 5-8 pm.

4. NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Tuesday, March 17 at 11 am
5th Avenue between 44th and 79th Streets

The original NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the cities oldest traditions, dating back to 1762. At the time, wearing green was banned in Ireland, so a band of “homesick, Irish ex-patriots and Irish military members serving with the British army” got together and reveled in the opportunity to don the color, sing traditional songs, and play the pipes.

In the early years, the Parade would march past the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in SoHo but now it marches up 5th Avenue and can be observed from the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown. The Grand Marshall this year is James Callahan, the general president of the International Union of Operating Engineers, and will kick off at 44th Street and 5th Avenue at 11 a.m.

5. Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Sunday, March 22 at 1 pm
Third Avenue and Marine Avenue

This hyperlocal parade began in 1994 and was first organized by Gene Reilly, who owned the former Lief Erickson Pub on 5th Avenue and believed there was “always room for one more parade in New York City” according to the event’s website. The parade focuses on highlighting local businesses and celebrating notable Bay Ridgeittes. This year, the parade is honoring one of their own, Linda Gallagher-Lomanto, the president of the organizing committee, with the title of Grand Marshal.

Cultural

6. “Irish Outsiders” Apartment Tour
Various dates are available, check the event website for more details
Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard Street, 4th Floor

This tour will shine a light on cultural bias through the life of one immigrant family. Bridget and Joseph Moore arrived to NYC with their three daughters in the mid-1860s, a time when Irish newcomers weren’t particularly welcomed. They resided at 97 Orchard Street in 1869 and their apartment has been recreated to illustrate how the Moore’s lived and struggled with poor living conditions, discrimination, and disease.

7. “Spirit of the Irish” Candlelight Ghost Tour
Friday, March 13 at 6:30 pm
Merchant’s House Museum, 29 East Fourth Street

The Merchant’s House—where the Tredwell family lived for nearly 100 years—has famously been called the city’s most haunted place, with many believing Gertrude Tredwell (who was born in the home in 1840 and lived there until her death in 1933) is behind some strange and inexplicable occurrences that have been reported over the years. The House hosts fairly regular Candlelight Ghost Tours but for St. Patrick’s Day they’ll open up the 4th Floor Servants’ Quarters where, according to the event’s website, many of the strangest paranormal happenings took place. Not for the faint of heart, the one-hour tour costs $40 or $35 for members.

8. Footsteps of Bridget Murphy Walking Tour
Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 pm

Old St. Patrick’s Church (Mott Street entrance)

Explore the world of Irish immigrants, who flocked to New York City to escape famine and hardship in Ireland throughout the 19th century. The tour will focus on the experience of roughly 24,000 Irish immigrants who became servants for wealthy families in NYC, showing you what their day-to-day lives were like within and outside of their employer’s homes. Tickets are $15 or free for members of the Merchant’s House Museum.

9. Irish Heritage Trolley Tour
March 15 at 2 pm
Woodlawn Cemetery

Take a ride in the Woodlawn Conservancy Trolley (it’s heated!) and learn about NYC’s prominent Irish men and women while visiting their final resting places. Some of the figures you’ll learn about are playwright, songwriter, and “anthem machine” George M Cohan, composer and cellist Victor Herbert, actor and singer Chauncey Olcott, and actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, among others. Tickets cost $25 (or $20 if you’re a member of the Woodlawn Conservancy) and are expected to sell out so make sure to reserve your spot soon. The tour will take place rain or shine and there will be free parking available within the cemetery.

10. New York Irish Center Table Quiz
Thursday, March 26 at 7 pm
New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue

Show off your Irish trivia chops at the New York Irish Center’s annual Table Quiz. Eight rounds of questions will cover pop culture, general knowledge, geography, history, and more. At the end of the night, “prizes of Irish delight” will be awarded to the top three teams. The cost to get in on the fun is $15 per person or $50 for a team of four.

11. St. Patrick’s Weekend Irish New York
Saturday, March 14 at 11 am
St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway between Fulton and Vesey Streets

This special Big Onion walking tour will explore the former “Little Ireland” area of the Lower East Side, between City Hall and Houston Street—a neighborhood that ended up having more Irish residents than Dublin. Per the event’s website, stops may include: the founding site of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Al Smith’s home, the Five Points, the first Catholic church in the city, and more. Tickets are $25 or $20 for seniors and students.

For the whole family

12. Irish Arts Center St. Patrick’s Day Open
Saturday, March 14 at 12 pm
553 West 51st Street

This annual extravaganza is a crowd favorite where you can opt to take part in numerous available workshops and demonstrations (learning the basis of Irish language, dancing, and how to play the tin-whistle were among the lineup in past years) or simply sit back and enjoy performances by Megan Downes with City Stompers and the IAC Community Céilí Band.

13. St. Patrick’s Day Prep!
Monday, March 16 at 4:30 pm

New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue

Make sure your kids are up-to-speed on their St. Patrick’s Day traditions during this afternoon of workshops at the IAC. Held on the day before the holiday, kids will walk away with a customized badge that they can don during the parade the next day, and with the ability to sing a traditional song and say a few words in Irish.

14. Irish Arts Center Book Day
Tuesday, March 17 at 8 am

Pop-up stations TBA, check event website for more details

For the past decade, the Irish Arts Center has been celebrating Irish stories by organizing free book giveaways throughout the five boroughs on Book Day each year. About 10,000 volumes will be handed out by volunteers working across various pop-up stations (stay tuned, locations are still TBA) from 8 am until they run out. The focus isn’t only on Irish authors: each year Book Day highlights another international community alongside Ireland and this year it’s France and the French diaspora.

15. Sober St. Patrick’s Day
Tuesday, March 17 from 5-7:30 pm

268 Mulberry Street

If you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but skip the hangover you’ll have the next day, consider this booze-free alternative hosted by the St. Patrick’s Youth Center. Theater and television producer Willia Spencer Reilly held the inaugural party in 2012 and it’s since become an annual event that spread to other cities. For the admission cost of $25 (or $20 for students and seniors and $10 for kids under 10) you’ll enjoy dinner and refreshments alongside performances from the likes of accordionist John Whelan, fiddle player Brian Conway, and the Donny Golden School of Irish Dance.

Music

16. 11th St. Bar
Sunday, March 15 at 10 pm
510 East 11th Street

You can pretty much always find a robust lineup of performers at the 11th St Bar, but for St. Patrick’s Day, the cozy Irish pub will host a traditional Irish Seisiún, or session, the Sunday before the holiday. The East Village bar will be filled with Celtic songs starting at about 10 pm.

17. Fraunces Tavern
Sundays from 3:30-6:30 pm
54 Pearl Street

This bar’s biggest claim to fame is a visit from George Washington when it first opened in 1762. Today’s visitors will find more than 200 whiskeys on the menu and live Irish music every Sunday. Sean McNally will be performing with various Irish and American folk ensembles each weekend in March.

18. Celtic Appalachian Celebration
Friday, March 13 at 8 pm
Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway

Described as a “rousing musical fête,” this concert celebrates the “vibrant interplay between Irish and Appalachian musical traditions.” Mick Moloney and the Green Fields of America will host the evening, featuring performances by Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass, Nora Brown, Stephanie Coleman, and Megan Downes.

Food and drink

19. St. Patrick’s Bleecker Street Block Party
Saturday, March 14 from 1-10 pm

Essentially the opposite of Sober St. Patrick’s Day, this “full-blarney blowout” pub crawl will take you to a long list of participating bars, saloons, taverns, and pubs in Greenwich Village. There’ll be no cover charges and each location will feature special drinks to celebrate the holiday. 2-day passes are available for those who can return on Tuesday (the actual holiday) for another round.

20. St. Patrick’s Day Baking
Thursday, March 12 at 6:30 pm
117 9th Street, Gowanus

Learn how to make Irish soda bread, shamrock macarons, and Bailey’s truffles and take your treats with you to enjoy at home during your own St. Patrick’s day festivities.

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