St Patrick’s Day is upon us – the biggest day in the Irish calendar and a nationwide excuse for some heavy drinking.
And with an estimated 70 million people around the world claiming Irish heritage, we’ve rounded up the best parades across the UK to attend this weekend in hot spots like London, Belfast and Birmingam.
If you plan to stay at home, we’ve also compiled a handy guide for staying in, including St Patrick’s Day recipes , games and where to get cheap fancy dress costumes.
If your St Patrick’s Day festivities are more likely to consist of downing a lot of Guinness (it does fall on a Sunday, after all) we’ve even tracked down the cheapest place to buy it.
St Patricks Day activities around the UK
The main London celebrations are set to take place in Trafalgar Square from March 15th to 17th.
The three day long shindig will involve plenty of traditional festivities, including an Irish folk show and film festival, as well as Irish walking tours.
As usual, once you get hungry, there’s plenty of classic Irish grub up for grabs from the Irish Street Food Market.
Flat Iron Square (near London Bridge)
This year, St. Patrick's day falls on the same weekend as the finale of the GUINNESS Six Nations tournament so, to round-off the championship in style, the GUINNESS brand is hosting the ultimate St. Patrick's Day celebration within the official Guinness fan zone at Flat Iron Square.
Flat Iron’s street food vendors will be serving GUINNESS-inspired dishes all day, alongside live music and even a little bit of Irish dancing…
Price: Tickets are priced at £5 for entry to the GUINNESS Village in Flat Iron Square, including one complimentary pint of the black stuff and a St. Patrick's Day hat. Get yours from See tickets here.
Box Park, Wembley, London
The Irish sure know how to party, so if you fancy joining them for the big one, you may want to head over to Wembley’s Box Park, as the site is putting on a huge session for the big day.
A stage will be set up with music, dance and comedy, as well as ceilidh band The Shipsters for a full day of fun, with the 20 or so restaurants who call Wembley Boxpark home all serving up Irish themed fare.
Price: Free – but sign up for tickets here
Slug and Lettuce pubs
From Thursday to Sunday, the famous bar will be dishing up Espresso Martinis with a bespoke Irish twist – and they’ll all be available on 2-for-1.
On top of the usual ingredients, the Slug and Lettuce will be adding a dose of Jamesons Whiskeys to all its Irish Espresso Martinis, which will be served up all weekend alongside two other special edition drinks: Baby Guinness and Jameson's Ginger and Lime.
Price: From £8.25
Water Poet & Crown and Shuttle (East London)
Both pubs will have live music sessions, but if you’re up for an Irish quiz, Irish Gin masterclass, Irish pies and oysters head to the Crown & Shuttle, while the Water Poet will be doing a full Irish breakfast before it closes its doors for the final time on Friday 29th March 2019, before re-opening elsewhere in the area soon.
All Bar One, Leicester Square (Soho)
There will be a Guinness mobile bar unit outside serving Guinness, plus an Irish band playing on Sunday 17th March during the afternoon and early evening. To add to the decor, Guinness art work will also be displayed around the bar.
For the first time in several years, the St Patrick’s Day parade and festival will take place on actual St Patrick’s Day, on Sunday 17th March.
Starting with a confetti blast, it will all kick off at noon along Digbeth High Street, until 2pm.
You can read the full details on the Birmingham Mail website.
Manchester is also putting a full parade, that’s set to leave the Irish World Heritage centre at 12 noon.
Lasting approximately an hour, it will end at Albert Square at 1pm.
If you want to continue on the festivities with a little bit of eating and drinking, Black Dog NQ are putting on a super-special Bottomless Brunch this weekend.
Instead of their usual bottomless brunch, you can get a massive Irish breakfast with bottomless Guinness for two hours instead, to help you celebrate the occasion in style.
Available both Saturday and Sunday from 11am – 4pm.
Price: £25 per person. Book here.
Northern Ireland’s capital will be marking the big day with a colourful parade (of course) and a free concert.
The carnival will set off from Belfast City Hall at 12.30pm on Sunday 17th March and will travel along Chichester Street and Victoria Street, into High Street and Donegall Street, before finishing at Writers Square.
After the parade, there will be a free-to-access concert from 1.30pm, which is being headlined by none other than Europe's popular party act: The Vengaboys.
Staying in on St Patrick’s Day
Cheapest place to buy Guinness
Perhaps the most famous Irish export in the entire world, the iron-rich and unashamedly delicious stout should be a mandatory part of every St Paddy’s Day celebration.
Let us know if you’ve tracked down anything better though…
St Patrick’s Day fancy dress and accessories
It must be a crime to celebrate St Paddy’s Day without wearing a statement leprechaun hat ?
If you seem to have misplaced the one you picked up in the pub during last year’s celebrations, here’s where to get one for less online.
If you’d prefer to spend a bit less, Poundland have plenty of options to choose from, but they’re only available to buy in store.
If you don’t want to spoil your sophistication with any of the above, wearing something green may just about cut it. Maybe.
St Patrick’s Day decorations
St Patrick’s Day games and activities
If pinching anyone who isn’t wearing green doesn’t quite hit the mark as entertainment, get the kids involved in a game of Shamrock Scrabble instead.
All you need to do is get ten or so different shamrocks (either print them out or cut them out from a bit of card) and place them around the room.
Play some music and when the music stops, every kid has to quickly stand on one of the shamrocks. Each time, the one without a shamrock is out the game. Just make sure you remove a shamrock each time until there’s only one man left standing.
Bushmills Irish Whiskey have released an Irish toast for the occasion, written by Northern Irish poet Jon Plunkett, so if you’re feeling like drinking the hard stuff, why not honour Saint Patrick while you do it?
Alternatively, stick to the classics and play Monopoly, but treat yourself to a special Irish edition such as Belfast, Galway or Cork, from £24.99 – although prices do massively vary.
St Patrick’s Day music
Ireland are as well known for their traditional folk songs as they are for their mass of worldwide pop music exports that includes U2, Westlife, Hozier, B*witched and… Jedward.
Put on some great Irish Pub songs featured in this compilation on Amazon for £9.05 and sing along while sipping on a Guinness – you’ll be surprised at how many you know.
From Danny Boy, to Lord of the Dance to Fairytale of New York, Ireland is home to plenty of classic tunes. You can buy a CD of all the Irish favourites on Amazon here for £8.56.
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