10 best St Patrick’s Day celebrations with kids 2015

St Patricks Festival, Dublin, Ireland. Image: http://www.stpatricksfestival.ie/
St Patricks Festival, Dublin, Ireland. Image: http://www.stpatricksfestival.ie/

Happy St Patrick’s Day 2015

My husband and first born both have very Irish names and although that’s the only bit of Irish we have, it’s reason enough to celebrate St Patty’s day each year.

Since having kids, it’s dawned on us that St Patricks Day parades and festivals are made for families, rather than being an excuse to dress in green and drink copious amounts of Guinness.

10 best St Patrick’s Day celebrations with kids 2015

Putting the beer goggles aside, here are the 10 best St Patrick’s day celebrations with kids in the world.

1. Dublin, Ireland – St Patrick’s Festival

Topping the list of the very best St Patrick’s day celebrations with kids, undoubtly is Ireland’s St Patricks Festival in the Irish Capital, Dublin.

St Patrick’s Day Festival, Dublin Ireland 2013

Held over 4 days from the 14th-17th of March. Dublin kicks off celebrations with a series of free family friendly events including:

  • strategically placed art installations and free Irish art exhibitons,
  • a series of interactive story telling sessions aimed at children,
  • children’s arts, crafts and theatre workshops,
  • a free treasure hunt around Dublin city,
  • street performance and open air shows,
  • a fun fair,
  • live entertainment featuring Dublin’s great musicians,
  • Greening the City where iconic buildings around the city is illuminated green.

The last day of the festival is capped off by a spectacular St Patricks Day Parade where 500,000 spectactors watch the procession of bands from around the world, stunningly decorated floats, elaborate costumes, choreographed dances and colourful theatrics. See the official Dublin, Ireland St Patricks Festival site and Visit Dublin site for details.

These are just the organised events for Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations for kids. Throughout the city (and country for that matter) there will be parties, festivals and unofficial to celebrate Irelands biggest day.

2. New York City, USA – St Patricks Day Parade

According to the Washington Post, the Irish-American population is seven times larger than Ireland itself with New York having the largest concentration of Irish-Americans. For grand St Patrick’s Day festivities head to NYC. It has one of the oldest St Patricks day marches and takes place on this year on the 17th of March at 11am commencing on 44th Street.

2014 St. Patrick's Day Parade, NYC by Diana Robinson, on Flickr CC
2014 St. Patrick’s Day Parade, NYC by Diana Robinson, on Flickr CC

New York takes second spot in the best St Patrick’s day celebrations with kids list, not due to sheer size alone (it’s the largest St Patrick’s day parade in the world). But it has some excellent family friendly celebrations including:

  • Irish themed arts and crafts at St Patrick’s Day in Brooklyn Children’s Museum,
  • Open Day at the Irish Arts Center with music and dance performances,
  • tours around the former Little Ireland to learn about the history of Irish immigrants to New York.
  • The grand St Patrick’s day parade. There are over 150,000 marchers and 1 million+ spectators on the street celebrating St Patty’s day.

Last year’s parade was marred by controversy as major brewers including Guinness and the Mayor of NYC Mayor de Blasio pulled out of the parade due to organizers forbidding gays to march. This year Guiness returns to sponsor the big event as the LFBT affinity group have been allowed to march in the parade under their own banner.

Check out New York’s St Patricks Day Parade here.

3. South Boston, USA – St Patrick’s Day Parade

Another Irish-American community strong hold. The second largest festival celebrating St Patricks Day in the USA is held in Southie (South Boston) and culminates in the St Patricks Day Parade watched by over 600,000 people with decorated floats, Irish dancers, traditional uniforms, costumes and Irish music. For more information about the parade and route see The South Boston Parade website.

By Official U.S. Navy Page from United States of America MCSN Victoria Kinney/U.S. Navy (Sailors march in a St. Patrick's Day Parade.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Boston – ‘Sailors march in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade” via Wikimedia Commons
As well as the many Irish pubs and bars open for beer consumption, there are also family friendly events held throughout the week taking out 3rd spot in best St Patrick’s day celebrations with kids:

  • Irish themed activities at the Childrens Museum,
  • Irish dancers of the Greene O’Leary School free event at the JFK Library,
  • Curious George St Patricks Day Treasure hunt at The Curious George Store
  • The annual Irish Festival at Patriot Place.

Like NYC, due to parade organisers banning openly gay marchers in the Boston St Patrick’s Day parade last year, the Irish-American Mayor of Boston, Martin Walshand and major sponsors withdrew from the parade. This year it appears the Gay Vetrans Group is allowed to march but it’s still unsure whether the Mayor or Boston Beer Company, Sam Adams will be returning.

4. Chicago, USA –  St Patricks Day Parade & River Dyeing

Chicago celebrates St Patrick’s Day in style. In the week leading up to St Patricks day the city hosts a variety of free events including:

  • The Irish Film Festival.
  • A light and sound installation on State street choreographed to Irish music.
  • The Greening Journey where iconic buildings around the city is illuminated green
  • Local neighborhood St Patricks day parades.
Dyeing of the river green. Image Mike Boehmer from Chicago, IL, via Wikimedia Commons
Dyeing of the river green. Image Mike Boehmer from Chicago, IL, via Wikimedia Commons
The lead up of Irish events culminates on March 17th in the Dyeing of the River at 10am, where vegetable dye is poured into Chicago River to dye it a vibrant Irish green.The grand finale is Chicago St Pats Parade, which begins at noon with 400,000 spectators looking on.  For more details check out the

5. Birmingham, UK – Birmingham St Patrick’s Festival

Birminham has the largest Irish population per capita and hosts the biggeset St Patrick’s Day Festival in the UK.

The St Patrick’s Day Parade starts at 12 noon on Sunday, 15th of March. It starts with a blast of confetti which signals the procession of Irish pipes, drums, song and dance. There will be elaborately decorated floats, beautiful costumes, scores of groups walking or on scooters, cars, busses and vintage cars.

St Patrick's Day Parade Birmingham 2011 by Jim Monk, on Flickr CC
St Patrick’s Day Parade Birmingham 2011 by Jim Monk, on Flickr CC

During the week leading up to the parade there are many family friendly events including:

  • Live Irish entertainment of song and dance,
  • Irish Literary evening,
  • Story telling sessions,
  • Photographic exhibitions,
  • Race night

The Birmingham St Patrick’s Day Festival attracts a multicultural mix of marchers and onlookers where the Irish Festival has taken on another role of showcasing diversity and community as well as celebrating Ireland.

6. Sydney, Australia – St Patricks Day Parade and Family Day

Ireland makes up Australia’s third most popular ancestry and Sydney has the largest Irish population. Throwing a great big  St Patty’s day bash. From March 14th – 17th Sydney puts on a series of events ending with a huge St Patricks Day Parade that starts at 12 noon with more than 80,0000 people attending.

Sydney's Opera House illuminated green for St Patrick's Day. This year it's the Sydney Town Hall's turn. Image Mike Young, Wikimedia Commons
Sydney’s Opera House illuminated green for St Patrick’s Day. This year it’s the Sydney Town Hall’s turn. Image Mike Young, Wikimedia Commons
The Sydney St Patricks Day festivities include:

  • Pre-parade entertainment with music and dancing on George Street and Bathurst Street.
  • Hyde Park Family Day straight after the parde, with live entertainment, organised activities, a Children’s area for arts and crafts, food and market stalls.
  • The entertainers from popular Childrens group Hi-Five will be entering a float in the parade and performing at the Hyde Park Family Day.
  • Last year Sydney Opera House joined in on the Global Greening campaing and was illuminated green on St Patrick’s Day. This year the Sydney Town Hall will be bathed in green for the big day.

7. Vancouver, Canada – CelticFest

Vancouver celebrates St Patrick’s Day with CelticFest spanning 12 days. From March 6-17th 2015, downtown Vancouver is bathed in green with loads of family friendly activities including:

Vancouver's Celtic Fest on Granville Street image _MG_0427 by V, on Flickr CC
Vancouver’s Celtic Fest on Granville Street image _MG_0427 by V, on Flickr CC
  • Free and ticketed Celtic themed shows and concerts leading up to St Patrick’s Day weekend.
  • a 5Km run / walk.
  • On March 14 and 15th Granville Street transforms into a Celtic Village. With an outdoor street market filled with Irish markets stalls, live entertainment and musical peformances.
  • Celtic Kid’s Corner – on March 14th – 15th a kids area located in the Celtic Village will offer Irish Sword Play, face painting, kids entertainment and dancing.
  • The 2000 strong parade will March through the streets of downtown Vancover with a procession of Celtic musicians, pipe and drum bands, Irish dancers, stilt walkers, mounted horde drill teams, vintage cars and an array of multi-cultrual organisations on floats, open top cars and on foot.

8. Montserrat, Caribbean – St Patrick’s Day Parade

Montserrat a tiny island in the Caribbean with a deep connection to the Emerald Isle. Once home to a large population of Irish slaves, indentured servants or exiled prisoners. Its one of the only countries in the world to mark St Patrick’s Day as a public holiday outside of Ireland, Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador being the other two. It’s a significant day in Monteserrat not only to celebrate it’s Irish origins but also commemerates a failed slave uprising in 1768.

Masked dancers performing on St Patrick’s Day, Montserrat, 2011. Credit: Tony Bates, Wikimedia Commons
Masked dancers performing on St Patrick’s Day, Montserrat, 2011. Credit: Tony Bates, Wikimedia Commons
The country celebrates St Patrick’s day Caribbean style. The grand St Patrick’s parade is not the usual march down the main street, it combines a medley of African and Irish music, dancing, flamboyant costumes and performances. During the week long celebration there is a freedom run, a village feast and a recreated slave village.

9. London, UK – St Patrick’s Day Parade

London know’s how to put on a party with over 100,000 people lining the streets in green for St Patrick’s Day festivities.

The St Patrick’s Day Parade takes place on the 17th of March from Green Park, where a parade of floats with Irish music, dancing and singing marches past Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square ending at Whitehall.

St Patrick's Day Trafalgar Square By Diliff via Wikimedia Commons
St Patrick’s Day Trafalgar Square By Diliff via Wikimedia Commons
Within Trafalgar square the Irish celebrations continues on from 12 noon. There is a food market, live performances, Irish music and the London Irish Comedy Festival events held here. Across London, bars and pubs will have their own organised Irish themed events, however as family friendly as these pubs are it might be too busy for a meal together with young kids.London also joins the Global Greening initiative, illuminating famous London icons such as the London Eye green to celebrate.

10. Dogtown, St Louis, USA – St Patricks Day Parade

Apart from a large family fun-run and a St Patrick’s Day Parade held in downtown St Louis. There’s a very enthusiastic Irish neighbourhood called Dogtown that holds the annual The Ancient Order of Hibernians parade in St Louis. This is the “real” St Patrick’s day celebration located in a predominately Irish community. Clans of Irish-American families march under their crests or throw beads from buses or cars.

It’s always surprising to hear that Americans proudly call themselves Irish even if they are perhaps, 3rd, 4th or 5th + generation Irish born American. Aussies don’t differentiate, for me, an Australian born person of Chinese heritage. I am simply Australian and avoid the label Chinese. Though it makes me think perhaps I should take a leaf out of the Irish-American books and stand prouder of my heritage.

During the Dogtown St Patrick’s day celebrations. There is a sea of green at the intersection of Tamm and Clayton to dance, toss beads and be very merry as the Irish do.

There are food stalls, green beers, bag pipes and chants. Kids sit ontop of dad’s shoulders, people hand out green candy and shimmering necklace beads are collected from people singing from rooftops and hanging from windows. It’s a carnival atmosphere where everyone is in high spirits and kids are surprisingly welcomed – that’s St Louis for you.

After the big parade, head to the nearby St Louis Zoo. The kids can take a walk around the excellent animal exhibits and they serve green beer at the convenience stands.

Irish celebrations like this are celebrated not only in the big cities of America but the smaller states stand proud of their Irish communities.

Celebrating Brisbane’s Irish Festival

The week long event from March 6th – 17th featured a Brisbane Festival Family Fun Day a BBQ event held last weekend on Sunday 8th March. There were kids carnival rides, tug of war competition, organised races, Gaelic Football, Irish dancing and live music and tug of war competition. Though small in comparison to the rest of the world, Brisbane deserves a mention, in the 10 best St Patrick’s day celebrations with kids. 

St Patrick's Day Brisbane - Steam Tractor by Cyron Ray Macey, on Flickr
St Patrick’s Day Brisbane – Steam Tractor by Cyron Ray Macey, on Flickr CC

A well organised and family friendly event. The Brisbane Irish Festival  featured live Irish performances at the Queen Street Mall Center Stage in the lead up to the main event held this weekend.

The festival is capped off on Saturday 14th March by the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade in the CBD. Kicking off on George Street from 10.30am with 30,000 specatators set to watch the procession of over 80 decorated floats and displays. The convoy will include  clown cars, pipe bands, singers, dancers, and members of the Irish community include Gaelic Football and Hurling teams.  See the Brisbane Irish Festival schedule here.

What are your thoughts on the best St Patrick’s day celebrations with kids? Please reply below:

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