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St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's Day is probably the most widely celebrated saint’s day in the world and is synonymous with donning green attire, the shamrock, colourful parades and intensive celebrations after.

The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years and celebrate it on 17th March, the anniversary of the saint’s death in the 5th century. However, it has gradually become less about religion and more of a celebration of Irish culture.

The Flexicover Team reports on the world’s biggest St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

New York City, USA

Actually, the first St Patrick's Day parade did not take place in Ireland, as one would assume, but in New York City on 17th March 1762 - 14 years before the Declaration of Independence! New York continues to host the world’s largest St Patrick’s Day parade, which proceeds down Fifth Avenue, and is one of the few where no cars, floats or other vehicles are allowed. The procession normally lasts for 6 hours, but the partying generally carries on into the early hours.

When and where: The New York City parade is on 17th March and starts from (5th and) 44th Street at 11:00am.

Dublin, Ireland

You may think that Dublin would be the best place to celebrate this important festival. In fact, St Patrick's Day in Ireland has traditionally been a solemn religious occasion and, up until the 1970s, pubs in Ireland closed their doors on 17th March as a mark of respect. It wasn’t until later that it was seen as an opportunity to showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Dublin’s St Patrick's Festival is now the country’s largest public event and is a multi-day celebration with parades, concerts, outdoor theatre productions and fireworks displays galore! So why not head to the Emerald Isle, don some green, grab a proper pint of the black stuff and join in…

When and where: The parade begins on Parnell Square at noon on 17th March and will finish at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Chicago, USA

Chicago has a rather unique way of celebrating St Patrick’s Day. Since 1962 the Chicago River has been dyed a deep shade of Irish green! The inspiration behind this unique event came about after city workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realised that the green dye might provide a novel way to celebrate the holiday. They originally used 100lbs of vegetable dye which was enough to keep it green for a week! Now they use just enough to turn it green for several hours.

When and where: The Chicago River is dyed green on 17th March at 10:45am. The parade kicks off from for the corner of Balbo Drive and Columbus Drive at noon and is best viewed from the east side of the Michigan Avenue Bridge or the west side of the Columbus Drive Bridge.

Sydney, Australia

Australia has celebrated St Patrick’s Day since 1810, when the then Governor, Lachlan Macquarie, declared 17th March an official day of celebration for those of Irish heritage. 200 years on, Sydney celebrates the event on the third Sunday of March with an annual street parade consisting of floats and marching bands that concludes at Hyde Park for the family day celebrations, complete with live Irish music and dancing, Irish food stalls and of course a Guinness bar!

When and where: The pre-parade entertainment starts at 10:30am on 18th March in front of the Town Hall and the parade commences there at noon, ending at Hyde Park where the festivities continue. The dark brew and the amber nectar glow ‘til late!

Montserrat, West Indies

Known as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, Montserrat is the only country outside Ireland where St Patrick’s Day is a public holiday. The Irish connection is evident from the moment visitors arrive on the island and receive a shamrock passport stamp. In fact, even the country’s flag reflects the colony's Irish roots as the coat of arms features Erin, the female personification of Ireland, and the golden harp. Their St Patrick’s Festival is a weeklong celebration and one of Montserrat’s most popular events, with a rich mix of Irish and African heritage plus some traditional Caribbean entertainment!

When and where: This year’s festivities start on Saturday March 10th with a St Patrick's Day Dinner in the Montserrat Cultural Centre and run until Monday March 19th ending with a magnificent Calypso Party in Salem Heritage Village, it’s fair to say you’ll want be there for the whole duration...

Did you know?

St Patrick used the shamrock to explain the concept of The Holy Trinity - The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Irish folklore actually considered the wearing of green to be unlucky, as it was the favourite colour of the faerie folk (particularly leprechauns). It was believed wearing too much could offend them and they would punish you (steal your children, ruin your crops, make your cows dry).

Savannah, Georgia, USA has the second biggest St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world!

Wherever you do decide to travel, you won’t need to rely on the luck of the Irish in an emergency because Flexicover Direct, the travel insurance specialist, is committed to providing the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you are travelling soon, have a great trip!