While it may seem counterintuitive, you don’t need to travel to Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in style. Cities large and small all across America go all out for the day, offering everything from parades to green beer to green rivers.
The holiday originally began as a Catholic feast day, but now celebrations are diverse and wide-ranging. You can drink shamrock shakes, enjoy themed food and beer, go on pub crawls or find a place to listen to bagpipers. With more than 31 million people in the U.S. claiming Irish ancestry, it might not surprise you that Americans are projected to spend big bucks this year on celebrating — a whopping $6.85 billion.
WalletHub recently ranked 200 of the most populated U.S. cities to see which ones would be the best places to go on St. Patrick’s Day. Among the factors the company took into account: St. Patrick’s Day traditions, costs, safety and accessibility, and potential weather on the holiday.
By evaluating each factor using 15 relevant metrics with corresponding weights, each city was graded using a 100-point scale. WalletHub deemed the following the top five places for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations — and we help you break down what makes each location special.
Receiving a total score of 66.9, Boston topped the charts. The city’s storied St. Patrick’s Day parade draws about 1 million spectators annually and venues in the city host an array of themed events, including a multi-day concert series with a local Irish punk band and an Irish film festival, not to mention the pub crawls and party trolleys. This year, festivities take place on March 19.
Coming in just a hair under Boston is Philadelphia at 66.9. Its St. Patrick’s Day Parade is among the oldest in the country and has been held annually since 1771. It’ll happen on March 12 this year. There are a slew of Irish pubs and bar crawls taking place as well.
With a total score of 63.58, the Windy City might be most known for demonstrating its love for the Irish by pouring gallons of emerald green dye into the Chicago River each year; this year’s event is March 11. People congregate at Grant Park for the parade afterward to celebrate, listen to bagpipers and watch Irish Ceili dancers. Most bars are standing room only that day.
Pittsburgh, which WalletHub also listed as having one of the largest Irish populations in the country (fourth-highest, to be exact), came in with a total score of 61.53. Irish or not, you’ll feel welcomed in this city that will be speckled with green-clad partygoers on March 17. The Pittsburg parade calls itself one of the largest in the nation and includes more than 200 marching units, bands and floats.
5. New York
If you can make it to New York for the holiday, it’ll probably be one for the memory books, thanks to the city’s score of 61.05 on the WalletHub chart. While the parade is the city’s St. Patrick’s Day main attractions on March 15, you can join in the festivities throughout the week. Stop by the Irish Arts Center’s Open Day on March 19 or the New York Irish Whiskey Festival on March 11, or enjoy some of the other celebrations all over the city.
Unexpected cities that made the top 20 include Naperville, Illinois (No. 8); Boise, Idaho (No. 10); Worcester, Massachusetts (No. 12); Cedar Rapids, Iowa (No. 17); and Dayton, Ohio (No. 19).
Additionally, New York and Tampa, Florida, both tied for first place for having the most Irish pubs and restaurants per capita. Seattle, Washington; Boston, Massachusetts; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania rounded out the top five.
An estimated 61% of Americans plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year. Will you be one of them?