Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular annual celebrations in the world? Although festivities in cities such as Dublin, New York City, Boston and Chicago are most known, there are a number of surprising destinations around the world that also get into the St. Paddy’s Day spirit.
The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat is one of the few places in the world where St. Patrick’s Day is an official holiday (others include Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador). Nicknamed the “Emerald Isle of the Caribbean”, Montserrat was settled by the Irish back in the 17th century and even has a shamrock as its passport stamp.
Today, locals and tourists celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a week-long festival highlighting Montserrat’s local culture, music and Irish heritage with many locals wearing green traditional national dress. The celebrations also commemorate a failed slave uprising on March 17, 1768. Although the revolt failed, the dual significance of the date turned it into a national holiday.
The celebration is filled with parades featuring masqueraders (masked street dancers in traditional costumes, tall head dresses and whips), concerts, church services, a pub crawl, a Slave Feast (commemorating the past slave culture on the island) and an African Music Festival, among other events.
More information can be found at the Visit Montserrat website.
Singapore’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Street Festival began in 2006 and is the largest St. Patty’s Day celebration in Southeast Asia. The three day festival is celebrated next to the Singapore River (at Boat Quay and the adjacent Circular Road). The festivities include traditional and contemporary Irish music, dance and street performers and conclude with the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday. For more information visit www.stpatsdaystreetfest.com.sg/.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
South America’s largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations take place in Buenos Aires, a city which has the fifth largest Irish community outside of Ireland.
Buenos Aires celebrates with a giant 10-block street party along Reconquista Street (a street in the Retiro district lined with countless Irish pubs) featuring live music, dancing and lots of drinking. The area is closed off for the festivities as an estimated 50,000 people will gather outdoors to drink and celebrate in the streets until the morning.
For those who want to join the festivities but not the drinking, Buenos Aires hosts a more family-friendly parade featuring Irish dancing, Celtic music, and a fairy and leprechaun costume contest.
Although Savannah holds one of the largest parades in the US, it is not as well known for St. Patrick’s Day as cities like Boston, New York City or Chicago.
What began as a small parade in the 1800s, Savannah’s parade now draws large crowds. The parade passes through the city’s Historic District and participants in the parade include a number of bands and U.S. military divisions.
Savannah also has a unique annual tradition of dyeing its many fountains green.
See the Savannah St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee website for more information.
Tokyo will hold its 26th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade along fashionable Omotesando Street near the Harajuku area. This is the largest Irish event in Asia held since 1992. Around 1,500 participants march in the parade featuring colorful costumes, cheerleaders, marching bands and floats. As many as 50,000 spectators will view the celebrations along a route lined with Irish and Japanese flags.
For more information check out the website of Irish Network Japan, a non-profit corporation whose goal is to promote Irish culture in Japan.
Cabo Roig, Spain
Cabo Roig, a small beach side town in the Alicante Province, attracts many tourists from the UK and Ireland. An estimated 10,000 people are expected to pack the streets of Cabo Roig for Spain’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade. More information can be found on their facebook page.
So, even if your travels find you far from the usual St. Patrick’s Day hotspots, there are still plenty of places in the world to join in the celebrations.
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