Your Ultimate Guide to St Patrick’s Day

St Patrick's Day Shamrock Balloons

St Patrick’s Day is one of the year’s biggest highlights for any serious party animal. Celebrating all things Irish is always great fun, and we’ve put together this handy guide to help you enjoy the day!

What to do

When you’re celebrating St Patrick’s Day in the UK, there’s always plenty to do. If you live in or near a city, chances are you won’t have to look too hard to find a parade! This is the perfect way to spend the day, particularly if you’re celebrating as a family.

You might even pluck up enough courage to try some traditional Irish dancing! Don’t worry, you don’t need to learn the whole of Riverdance. What you can do is organise or join in with a traditional Irish ceili. This is a fun, simple dance for couples, and the steps are often called out by the most experienced dancer to make life easier for beginners.

Or how about making your own decorations? These Shamrock balloons are the perfect way to keep your party on message, and they’re really easy to make!

Shamrock balloons

All you need is:

To make them, simply:

  1. Blow up all three balloons. Use helium if you want them to stay up for longer.
  2. Tie the balloons together as closely as possible with the ribbon to form a Shamrock shape.

Then there’s these cool Pots of Gold table decorations, which you can make with:

St Patrick's Day pot of gold table decorations

Just fill each cauldron with coins, attach your labels to the straws and pop one into each pot, as shown in the image above.

What to wear

The short answer is ‘something green’. It’s actually thought that St Patrick was more associated blue during his life, but for various historical reasons, green has come to be seen as the colour of Ireland.

If you’re looking for a cool story behind it, there’s a popular myth that wearing green on St Patrick’s Day makes you invisible to leprechauns and fairies, who will spend the day pinching anyone who didn’t get the green memo.

You can avoid this fate by picking your favourite from our St Patrick’s Day fancy dress selection!

What to eat and drink

Over the years, St Patrick’s Day has become known as a day to have a few drinks and really let your hair down. You won’t need to look too hard to find Irish tipples behind any bar. In fact, you’ll probably recognise most of them, including Guinness and many of your favourite brands of stout, whiskey and cider.

It’s certainly one way to get the party started, but everything in moderation, of course!

St Patrick's day beer balloons

In terms of snacks, try matching with a drink – or just enjoy a handful of green foil-wrapped chocolates!

Is St Patrick’s Day a Bank Holiday?

Only in Ireland, we’re afraid. That’s fair enough though, isn’t it?

As far as the UK is concerned, it means the lucky people of Northern Ireland get the day off, but the celebrations will have to wait if you’re in England, Wales or Scotland.

St Patrick’s Day is always on the 17th of March, which makes planning easy. The bank holiday will always be the next Monday after the 17th (if that isn’t itself a Monday).

St Patrick's Day Slainte decoration

How is St Patrick’s Day celebrated around the world?

Few festivals have as big an appeal around the world as St Patrick’s Day. Most major tourist cities have an Irish bar, so wherever you are, chances are there’s a celebration somewhere!

If you’re wondering where the biggest celebrations are, New York’s parade attracts 2 million people to Manhattan every year, while Chicago lights up its largest buildings in green, and even dyes its river the same colour!

Chicago's river turned green for St Patrick's Day

Then there’s London, where revellers gather in Trafalgar Square to enjoy traditional Irish music after a parade through the city. You’ve probably realised by now that parades are very much the order of the day around the world, with Paris, Toronto, Sydney, Seoul and Moscow among the cities getting in on the act.

Some places put their own local spin on their St Patrick’s Day celebration. Buenos Aires swaps the traditional parade for a noisy street party, while Tokyo has created a fusion of Irish and Japanese cultural fun. In Dubai, singer Bob Geldof has performed a St Patrick’s Day concert in the city’s Irish Village for many years. Yes, really!

None of those places get the day off for St Patrick’s Day though. In fact, only one other country besides Ireland does, and that’s the Caribbean island of Montserrat. It has a long history of Irish refugee immigration dating back to the 17th century and uses St Patrick’s Day to celebrate its independence.

How will you be celebrating?

Now that we’ve given you a few ideas and shown you how people celebrate St Patrick’s Day around the world, it’s over to you! Let us know what you’re planning and share your best snaps with us over on Facebook. Sláinte!