Things To See And Do in NYC This St. Patrick's Day
With St. Patrick's Day fast approaching and our Dublin recommendations now live we thought we'd turn our attention to one more city with a fantastic reputation for celebrating this world famous event. And where better to look than New York City. The Big Apple has strong cultural connections to the Emerald Isle because of large-scale emigrations during the mid-19th century. Though the passage of time has seen the arrival of many more peoples and cultures few customs have been diluted and forgotten, certainly not St. Patrick's Day anyway. Every March New York City sees one of the world's largest St. Patrick's Parades march proudly up 5th Avenue, a tradition which dates back (at the time of writing) 253 years, more than a decade before US Deceleration of Independence.
This year (2015) the parade will begin at 44th Street and 5th Avenue before continuing towards St. Patrick's Cathedral and 79th Street. Unless you plan on booking stand seats try and turn up on 5th Avenue an hour or so prior to 11:00, when the marchers first set out. Expect to see around 250,000 people take part, from bagpipe bands to senior level politicians. This portion of the day normally lasts until around 14:00-15:00.
Though the Manhattan Parade is the most widely known it's not the only borough to host streams of marchers. For something a little different we'd highly recommend crossing East River into Brooklyn. Here the bands and marchers will be gathering at 12:00 noon on Park West between 9th Street & 15th Street. Before the procession begins at 12:45 a “Re-Dedication Ceremony” will take place to commemorate the rescuers and victims of the 9/11 attacks. Expect a more intimate and perhaps less rowdy atmosphere than in Midtown, something well worth experiencing that isn't entirely focused on the all day party.
For those who stick around the Manhattan parade pick a time to peel off from the packed rows and investigate the city's other St. Patrick's Day delights. Chances are it'll be something alcohol related, such as one of the many fantastic pub crawls. Of particular note is the Official St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl (March 17th), an annual event hosted by the organisers of the 'World's largest Pub Crawls'.
If bustling revelry on an industrial scale isn't your thing then there's plenty of exciting Irish bars along 2nd and 3rd Avenue that you can check out at your own pace- just don't expect the atmosphere to be quite and sedated. All-in-all there aren't many places in Midtown Manhattan on March 17th where life continues in the slow lane. One bar that was recommended to us by NYC locals on our Google+ page was Tír na Nóg (5 Penn Plz, New York, NY or 315 W 39th St, New York, NY), a popular Irish gastropub with two establishments in Manhattan, one across from Pennsylvania Station and the other close to Times Square.
If you choose to chuck back a Guinness in the Times Square establishment then call the next round at one of these 15 other boozers spread throughout the famous neon neighbourhood.
While March 17th is dominated by the main parade and citywide pub crawls a lot of the festival's most popular events take place in the days immediately prior. Arrive in NYC on the 13-14th and you can head along to the 69th Regiment Armory for the city's 10th Annual Craft Beer Festival. Visitors can sample the products of 75 breweries, receive a personal tasting glass and speak to representatives from various parts of the drinks industry.
On March 14th the Symphony Space on Upper West Side will be hosting 'The Celtic Appalachia', a gig featuring contemporary Irish music from one of the US' most renowned Irish-American bands, The Bing Brothers Band. They'll be accompanied by a line-up including The Green Fields of America, Kyle Alden and Jake Krack. Book your tickets for shows at either 14:30 or 20:00.
If the cultural aspects of St. Patrick's Day are what you appreciate most then you'll likely enjoy the annual 'St. Patrick’s Open Day' at the Irish Arts Centre (553 West 51 Street, New York, NY 10019). Ireland's national day will be celebrated with a roster of free-to-access music and dance performances, arts & crafts activities, introductory language classes and more. Take a look at their family friendly schedule.
Why not see more of NYC in the lead up to St. Patrick's Day? Book tickets for the Big Bus New York Tour and view the city from an open-top deck as it gets all geared up. Knowledgeable staff can also provide tops tips and personal recommendations.
Lastly, want to know everything there is to know about the March 17th parade itself? Read Katie Lara's enlightening little piece which discusses all the technicalities of the march: Everything You Want to Know About the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in NYC.