Guide To America’s Best St. Patrick Day Parades

March 3, 2015 8:00 AM

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated events in the country. March 17 is the day many Americans pay homage to Saint Patrick by wearing their finest green outfits and heading out for a day of celebrations. Both large and small cities host annual St. Patrick’s Day events, festivals and parades. Some, such as those in larger cities like Chicago and New York, have more extravagant celebrations that last all day long. Almost every city across the country has its own way of celebrating this lucky holiday.Many of the parades hosted across the country include colorful floats, musical performers, dancers, bands and lots of green. Let’s take a look at some of the best St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country.

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Chicago, Illinois

Everything turns green in Chicago when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, including the river. The dying of the Chicago River has become a St. Patrick’s Day tradition in the Windy City and many come out to see this miracle as it occurs and to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Nothing beats the excitement you will feel in the air as the parade gets ready to step off and the air is filled with the sound of bagpipes.

In addition to the sound of bagpipes, the parade features everything green and Irish, including colorful floats and many waving the green, white and orange flags. There will also be Irish step dancers, marching bands and other amazing performers.

This year, the Chicago Saint Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2015 and is expected to start at noon, rain or shine. The parade will start at Balbo and Columbus and proceed north along Columbus Drive. Though the parade can be seen along the way, there will be a special viewing stand located in front of Buckingham Fountain. The Grand Marshall for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago will be William P. Hite, United Association General President.

The dying of the Chicago River will start at 9:30 a.m. on the day of the parade. The best place to view this event is from the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge, the upper and lower portions of Wacker Drive (between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive) and along the west side of the Columbus Drive bridge. This is something you do not want to miss, so do not be late, because the dye only lasts for about five hours.

Related: Chicago River Dyed Green for St. Patrick’s Day

Savannah, Georgia

This year marks the 191st anniversary of the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah and includes everything green. In addition to the parade, there are many Irish-themed events planned and hosted by local clubs, businesses and the city. In fact, there are many celebrations planned throughout the month of March that will keep the city rocking all month long. It may have taken 190 years to get this St. Patrick’s Day celebration recognized, but that is what makes Savannah the hottest places to celebrate the holiday. The city has worked hard to improve and find new ways to celebrate during the month of March. That is why this parade is one you do not want to miss.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Savannah will be held on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 and is expected to start at 10:15 a.m. and end at approximately 2:30 p.m. The parade starts on Abercorn Street at Gwinnett Street and concludes on Bull Street just past Harris Street.

Photo Credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

New York, New York

Whether you plan to spend the day outside celebrating or heading to a local pub for some green beer, New York is definitely a city you should try to visit for St. Patrick’s Day. The Big Apple hosts one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country, which is amazing since only a small percentage of the residents are actually of Irish descent. But that does not mean it is any less Irish than the other parades across the country.

The NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the country’s oldest Irish traditions, dating back more than 250 years ago. It dates back to even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. With that many years of practice, you know this has to be an amazing event to experience.

The parade can be viewed on 5th Avenue between 44th Street and 83rd Street. The St. Patrick’s Day parade passes by some of the city’s most popular attractions, including Central Park and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This year’s Grand Marshall is Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York City.

The NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade starts at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 44th Street and finishes around 5 p.m. just past the American Irish Historical Society.

Boston, Massachusetts

The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been listed as the second largest parade in the country. One of the reasons for this is the setting the parade takes place in. Not only will you be able to enjoy celebrating everything green, but you will be able to experience this history of Boston first-hand. Plus, in addition to the parade, there are many other Irish-themed parties, celebrations, events and activities planned throughout the month of March, making it possible to turn a single-day holiday into a month-long celebration.

Another reason is that close to one-quarter of the population in Boston claims to have Irish ancestry. Some of the best people to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are the Irish.

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston will feature colorful floats, music, marching bands, bagpipes, Irish cheer and so much excitement. The best place to view the parade is along Broadway. Just make sure to arrive early to stake out a spot. The parade route will begin at the Broadway “T” Station and end at Andrew Square.

The Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on March 15, 2015 at 1 p.m. The parade has been a tradition in Boston since 1901.

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San Francisco, California

The Bay Area has definitely made it possible to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day to the fullest. San Francisco does not just hold a parade with smaller festivities, it hosts an all day festival with the parade as the highlight of the event. This is definitely one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the state.

The St. Patrick’s Day celebration in San Francisco will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2015 with a St. Patrick’s Day Mass being held at 9 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church (756 Mission Street at 3rd Street). The festival will start at 11 a.m. and continue all day long until 5 p.m. This festival will be held at the Civic Center Plaza. During the festival you will be able to shop from local vendors, enjoy traditional Irish cuisine and try some famous green beer. There will also be live entertainment throughout the day featuring Irish bands.

The parade is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. The St. Patrick’s Day parade will features a variety of local Irish Dance Companies, groups, businesses, organizations and bands. The parade will start at 2nd Street, following Market Street down to the Civic Center Plaza. The parade is expected to last approximately two hours. The best viewing spots are those furthest away from the Civic Center, because the crowds get thicker the closer to the festival you get.

Related: Best 2014 St. Patrick’s Day Bars in OC

There are many different St. Patrick’s Day celebrations happening across the country. Even smaller towns in America band together to celebrate everything green. But if the small town feel is not something you want out of your St. Patrick’s Day parade, make plans this year to attend some of the larger parades and celebrations in the country. Attending one of the above parades will not leave you disappointed.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.