Top 10 St Patrick's Day celebrations around the world

The planet turns green on March 17 in celebration of St Patrick, a saint about whom very little is known. Never mind: with the whiskey flowing and the fiddles playing, we can all enjoy being Irish for the day.

1 DUBLIN, IRELAND

Celebrations in Ireland were long religious and low-key, but in 1995 Dublin finally joined the rest of the world's party. The four-day St Patrick's Festival now covers street performances, open-mic storytelling competitions, theatre, music and film. A huge open-air venue hosts Irish dancing. A March 17 parade watched by half a million spectators winds its way through downtown Dublin, with music provided by bands from all over Ireland. See stpatricksfestival.ie

Kids get into the festival spirit while waiting for the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin.

Kids get into the festival spirit while waiting for the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin. Photo: Tourism Ireland

2 MONTSERRAT, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS

This Caribbean island was settled by large numbers of persecuted Irish Catholic immigrants, and is the only place outside Ireland to have a public holiday on St Patrick's Day. The week-long celebration doubles as the commemoration for a slave uprising on March 17, 1768. The result is a unique blend of Irish and African music and food, plus hilarious activities such as "Catch the Mermaid" and "Leprechaun's Revenge". See visitmontserrat.com

3 NEW YORK, US

The Americans secularised St Patrick's Day, and New York likely invented the characteristic street parade, first held here in 1762 and now the world's largest, with 150,000 participants and two million spectators. Take your place on Fifth Avenue for four hours of marching bands, bagpipe players, police and army contingents, community groups, Irish dancers and more. On a more serious note, mass is heard at Fifth Avenue's St Patrick's Cathedral. See nycstpatricksparade.org

New York City Police Department's Emerald Society marches up Fifth Avenue.

New York City Police Department's Emerald Society marches up Fifth Avenue. Photo: Chris Hondros

4 BOSTON, US

Boston has a historic and prominent parade. The South Boston Parade honours war veterans and features floats, bands, bagpipes and baton-twirling cheerleaders. Elsewhere, Irish dancers perform at the JFK Library, guided walks lead around an Irish Heritage Trail and an Irish Film Festival runs for four days. Check listings for pub music, comedy shows and other events; hometown Celtic punk-rock group The Dropkick Murphys always performs. See bostonusa.com

5 CHICAGO, US

Third great Irish-American city Chicago also has a noted parade, but is most famous for dyeing its river green with eco-friendly vegetable dye which, much to some onlookers' dismay, at first turns the river orange. Skyscrapers are illuminated in green. Race the Emerald Isle Mile, check out the crafts and music at the family-friendly Irish American Heritage Centre, or enjoy a high-spirited lunch cruise on Lake Michigan. See choosechicago.com

6 VANCOUVER, CANADA

The city's five-day CelticFest showcases dance, music, ballads, film, traditional sports and Irish food and yes, culminates in a parade with the usual participants, plus acrobats, mounted police and stilt walkers. A weekend Celtic Village along downtown Granville Street supplies a street market, food and face painting, while a music stage hosts impressive Celtic-influenced bands and singers. Tom Lee Music Hall hosts workshops in the fiddle, flute and bodhran drum. See celticfestvancouver.com

7 MANCHESTER, UK

The Manchester Irish Festival, which claims to be Europe's largest, runs through much of March and features all manner of events, from breakfast parties to pub music sessions and Irish language and dancing lessons. Albert Square hosts Irish Markets, with live entertainment, traditional foods and plenty of kitsch; kids will enjoy the Leprechaun House. For adults, post-parade parties at various pubs continue into the wee hours, or until the Guinness runs out. See manchesteririshfestival.co.uk

A tractor decorated in Irish colours in North Manchester.

A tractor decorated in Irish colours in North Manchester. Photo: John Fryer / Alamy Stock Photo

8 OSLO, NORWAY

If you want to join a parade yourself, rock up at Jernbanetorget in Oslo before the noon kick-off, and join this modest but lively event, which includes participants dressed up as St Patrick, Molly Malone and leprechauns. It heads past the cathedral (which hosts a special mass) and town hall, finishing on Universitetsplassen. There's a buffet lunch afterwards with music supplied by visiting Irish groups. See irishsociety.no

9 TOKYO, JAPAN

Tokyo's whacky Harajuku district hosts a St Patrick's Day parade, probably the biggest in Asia, that marches along Omotesando replete with tap dancers, US army bands, juggling acts, people dressed as giant glasses of Guinness and (because why not) members of the South Tokyo Irish Setter Club. After-parade drinkers repair to several Irish pubs and the Hard Rock Cafe Roppongi. Next day, Yoyogi Park hosts the I Love Ireland Festival. See iloveireland.net

St. Patrick's Day in Tokyo.

St. Patrick's Day in Tokyo. Photo: Alamy

10 PARIS, FRANCE

Why you'd want to visit an Irish pub in Paris is anyone's guess, except on St Patrick's Day, when you'll find a great blend of Parisians and homesick Irish making merry. More sedately, the Irish Cultural Centre hosts traditional music, plays and folk dancing. Sacre Coeur Basilica, which looms over the capital, is floodlit green, and the Moulin Rouge becomes the Moulin Vert. Disneyland Paris also marks the event. See centreculturelirlandais.com

Brian Johnston has travelled as a guest of tourist offices or tour companies in many of these destinations.

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