Cities all over the world go green for St. Patrick’s Day, the defining patriotic Irish holiday, and London is no exception. With celebrations running all week long and unmissable annual events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Trafalgar Square Festival, here’s a handy guide to celebrating the holiday in London.
Held every March 17, St Patrick’s Day honours the patron saint of Ireland and has in recent years become an emblematic celebration of Irish culture. It has since become a global phenomenon with huge parades in Ireland, the USA and England and is well known for its vibrant shamrock greens, cultural performances and the quintessential pint of Guinness.
On the afternoon of March 17, a massive celebratory parade begins in Piccadilly and winds its way around the city’s biggest sights. The route usually spans just over two kilometres and runs all the way to Whitehall; though it’s worth camping out near Trafalgar Square for the spectacle as there’s a big festival worth visiting too. Full of music, dancing, larger than life floats and vibrant shades of green, it’s a massive highlight of the holiday.
Trafalgar Square is transformed annually into a fantastic party with a carnivalesque atmosphere, with a string of live performances showcasing the best in Irish music, dance and culture. Over 150,000 people attend each year and it’s a great way to experience Irish culture in the capital, with a bustling market full of traditional delicacies and beers.
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Avoid the crowds and head to one of London’s many Irish pubs, many of which will be decked out for the festivities. Dress in green, grab a pint of Guinness at the bar and celebrate with like-minded people. Some of the best Irish pubs include Auld Shillelagh, The Porterhouse, The Tipperary and Blythe Hill Tavern.
Irish Film London is hosting a three day festival to bring Irish animation and cinema to the people of London, screened across different venues including Regent Street Cinema and Princes Charles Cinema across the city. Featuring fun shorts, gripping dramas and family-friendly films, there’s something for everyone over the three day schedule.
Let the Irish folk music carry you across the dance floor at an Irish ceilís, a traditional folk dance celebration open to all. Every year, a number of different places in London host their own for the holiday: keep an eye on Borough Hall and the London Irish Centre for their events.
Go digging in your closet for your brightest emerald hues, which define the whole celebration. Tied strongly to Irish national identity (Ireland is nicknamed the ’emerald isle’ for its lush greenery) and the iconic shamrock, festival goers will all be dressed in green and wearing the shade is an easy way to fit in.