Publication date March 7, 2024

The Wildest St. Patrick's Day Parades You Gotta See

You know how it is - every year when March 17th rolls around, you get that itch to celebrate your Irish heritage (even if you're not actually Irish). You want to break out the green clothes, grab a pint of Guinness, and find a raging St. Patrick's Day parade to join. But let's be honest - most hometown parades are pretty tame. Same floats, same bands, same everything year after year. If you're looking to really experience the wildest and most unique St. Paddy's Day parades out there, then get ready. In this article, I'll share some of the craziest and most off-the-wall St. Patrick's Day parades across the country and world that you simply have to add to your bucket list. No more boring parades - it's time to go big or go home. From New York to Savannah to international destinations, I've got you covered on where to find the most over-the-top St. Patrick's celebrations that will make you feel like you're truly experiencing Ireland for the day. Get your shamrocks and shenanigans ready - these are the wildest parades you simply gotta see.

The Mother of All St. Patrick's Day Parades - New York City

You simply can't beat the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade when it comes to size and spectacle. As the oldest civilian parade in the U.S., this granddaddy of them all has been marching since 1762. Over 300,000 revelers gather along Fifth Avenue to watch the extravaganza of bagpipes and bands, floats and Irish dancers.

The Parade Route

The parade kicks off at 44th Street, heading north up Fifth Avenue for more than 40 blocks before concluding at 79th Street. The best views are between 50th and 60th Streets, where you can find space to comfortably watch while enjoying a drink at one of the many Irish pubs along the route.

Who's Marching

Over 200,000 participants representing Irish groups from across the city march up Fifth Avenue. You'll spot brightly colored kilts of county associations from Cork, Kerry, Cavan and more. The Fighting 69th Infantry Division leads the parade, followed by a sea of politicians, students, and Irish entertainers. Look for the green-clad St. Patrick's Day Queen and her court waving from their float.

Tips for Enjoying the Parade

Arrive early, around 9 am, to get a good viewing spot, especially if the weather is nice. The parade starts at 11 am but lasts for over six hours. Bring folding chairs, snacks, and wear green to show your Irish pride. Most importantly, hit up one of the Irish pubs along the route for a pint of Guinness and soak in the celebratory atmosphere. The NYC St. Patrick's Day parade is a can't-miss event for any fan of pageantry, parties or a perfect pint of stout.

Paint the Town Green - Chicago Goes All Out

St. Patrick's Day Parades - Chicago

Source: TimeOut

If any city knows how to celebrate St. Paddy's Day, it's Chicago. The Windy City has hosted an epic parade for over 50 years and draws nearly 350,000 people each March. The parade kicks off at noon but revelers start staking out spots along Columbus Drive at the crack of dawn. And with good reason - this parade is massive, featuring Irish dance troupes, pipe bands, cultural groups, and floats galore. Grab your spot early and enjoy a coffee from a nearby cafe while you wait.

Once the parade starts, you'll be dancing and cheering for over 3 hours as the river of green floats by. From shamrocks and leprechauns to Celtic crosses and “Kiss Me I'm Irish” shirts, Chicagoans go all out to show their pride and spirit. Make sure to wear your best green gear so you can fully participate in the sea of emerald revelry!

After the parade ends, the party is just getting started. Head to the Irish American Heritage Center where traditional Celtic bands, dancers and more will perform well into the evening. Or check out some of Chicago's Irish pubs like The Galway Arms, The Globe and Kitty O'Shea's for a perfectly poured pint of Guinness, fish and chips or shepherd's pie.

With Chicago turning its most iconic landmarks like the John Hancock building and Navy Pier green for the occasion, this St. Paddy's Day celebration cannot be beat. The craic will be mighty, the Guinness will flow and there's no better place to paint the town green and party like the Irish! Sláinte, Chicago!

Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Parade - The South's Biggest Bash

St. Patrick's Day Parades - Savannah

Source: 11 Alive

Savannah, Georgia hosts one of the biggest St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the South. Their lively parade is the highlight of the city's St. Patty's festivities. On March 17th, grab your green attire and head to historic downtown Savannah to experience the revelry firsthand.

A Sea of Green

The parade features over 350 units, including floats, marching bands, Irish dance troupes, and military units. Spectators line the streets dressed head-to-toe in green, with many donning glittery shamrocks, leprechaun hats, and "Kiss Me I'm Irish" buttons. The mood is joyful and energetic as people cheer on the performers and catch strands of beads, candy, and other trinkets tossed from floats.

St. Patrick's on the River

The parade ends at the Savannah River, where the party continues with live music, food, and drinks at the St. Patrick's on the River festival. Grab a green beer, corned beef sandwich, or fish and chips while enjoying views of historic riverboats on the Savannah River. An epic fireworks show lights up the night sky, signaling the end of another memorable St. Patty's Day in the Hostess City of the South.

Savannah's St. Patrick's Day bash embodies the spirit of the Irish celebration. The sea of green, lively music, dancing, food, drinks, and camaraderie shared with old and new friends create an atmosphere of revelry that will make you wish St. Patty's Day came more than once a year. If you're looking for an authentic, high-energy St. Patrick's Day experience in the South, Savannah's parade and festival should be at the top of your list.

A Sea of Green in Boston - Beantown's Irish Pride

St. Patrick's Day Parades - Boston

Source: WBUR

The Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade is the highlight of the Irish pride in Beantown. As America's longest-running St. Paddy's parade, it's a can't-miss celebration.

On the third Sunday of March, South Boston becomes a sea of shamrocks and Guinness as over 600,000 spectators flock to Broadway Street. The parade features Irish dancers, bagpipers, marching bands and floats representing Irish organizations from Massachusetts and beyond.

Politicians and Celebrities Join the Fun

Prominent politicians like former Boston mayor Marty Walsh, governor Charlie Baker, and senator Elizabeth Warren frequently join the revelry. Major sports teams like the Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics also send representatives to march in the parade.

Even a few Hollywood stars with Irish roots, like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Mark Wahlberg have made appearances over the years to show their Boston pride on St. Patrick's Day.

A Family-Friendly Affair

While there is certainly no shortage of beer at the many pubs and bars along the parade route, the event itself is suitable for all ages. Kids will love seeing the clowns, balloons, and even the Budweiser Clydesdales trotting down Broadway Street.

A Historic Tradition

The parade has been held every year since 1737, even during times of war and national crisis. The event is a point of civic pride for Bostonians and a chance to celebrate the city's strong Irish heritage.

Rain or shine, the show will go on for Boston's most cherished St. Patrick's Day tradition. An iconic sea of shamrocks, bagpipes, and Irish spirit—that's the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade.

An Irish Marching Band Bonanza - Philadelphia's Jam-Packed Parade

If you want a parade chock-full of live music, look no further than Philly’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Over a dozen marching bands provide the soundtrack for this epic event, filling the air with traditional Irish tunes.

Bagpipes and Brass

Marching bands from all over the East Coast flock to Philly to strut their stuff. You’ll see everything from bagpipe and drum corps to brass and reed bands. Crowd favorites are the Philadelphia Police and Fire Pipes and Drums, with their impressive display of pageantry. The sounds of “Danny Boy,” “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and “The Minstrel Boy” follow the bands down the parade route.

A Sea of Green

A kelly green sea washes over the city during the parade. Over 10,000 participants march, dance and play music while hundreds of thousands of spectators line the streets. If there was ever a day to wear your “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt, this would be it. The parade goes on for hours, but the party continues all day at local pubs, restaurants and house parties.

Family Fun

While the parade does feature some lighthearted debauchery, it’s also a family event. Kids will love the lively atmosphere, people in funny costumes, and of course, the candy and beads tossed from the floats. Arrive early to get a good spot, bring folding chairs or a blanket to sit on, and pack a bag with snacks, wipes and hand warmers. You’ll be there for a while, so come prepared for any weather.

The Philadelphia St. Patrick's Day Parade showcases the city's deep Irish heritage and love of revelry. With authentic music, pristine marching and fun for all ages, this parade hits all the right notes. Sláinte!


So there you have it, the wildest and wackiest St. Paddy's Day parades that should be on your bucket list. From river dyeing in Chicago to cabbage tossing in New Orleans, these celebrations showcase the most extreme ways to honor the patron saint of Ireland. Just be sure to wear some green so you don't get pinched, and maybe a costume if you're feeling extra festive. However you choose to celebrate, make it a March 17 for the history books. The crazy parades on this list will give you plenty of inspiration. See you next year for more wild antics and shenanigans!

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