Here’s how military families celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around the world

By Julie Provost

You better wear green (or risk being pinched), get your corn beef and cabbage made, and make plans to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day near your duty station. From parades in England to watching the water turn green in Chicago, here is how military families can celebrate around the globe.

Savannah, GA

(Photo: U.S. Navy, Chief Mass Communication Specialist Heather Ewton, Navy Recruiting District, Jacksonville, Fla.)

The Savannah St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 17th will bring in more than 300,000 people to take part in the celebration. You’ll also want to check out the St. Patrick’s Day Festival where you will find vendors, bands, and more festivities. Get a picture at the fountains that have been dyed green for a few days before St. Patrick’s Day.

Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

If you are in D.C., check out the one-day National Shamrock Festival, with 40,000 people. Make sure to take in the two-and-a-half hour parade that goes along Constitution Ave. Watch for the many floats, marching bands, and local community members. In addition, the local Irish pubs sponsor parade parties with Irish musicians, dancers, and singers.

Baltimore, MD


Baltimore has a parade that dates back to 1856 that starts at the Washington Monument and ends at Market Place. The Shamrock 5K goes on before the parade starts. Other neighborhoods also have events going on.

Chicago, IL


The Irish lay claim to being one of the largest ethnic groups in this city, and they go big. The dying of the Chicago River is the most well-known of St. Patrick’s Day traditions in the United States. In the past they dyed the river for a week; these days it is only kelly green for a few hours. Chicago also has the South Side Irish parade, filled with Irish culture and family fun.

Cleveland, OH


Cleveland has had a St. Patrick’s Day parade since 1867, and it is always on March 17th. There are about 15,000 registered participants that march and display their floats. The Grand Marshal title goes to an older man who has contributed to the advancement of the Irish activities in the city.

Columbia, SC

(Photo: Discover South Carolina)

Five Points in Columbia is home to the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Southeast. 40,000 people come together to celebrate all things Gaelic. You can find a 5- and 10K, a parade, family entertainment, Irish food, crafts, and more. Don’t miss the music at the five different outdoor stages.

New Orleans, LA

(Photo: Experience New Orleans)

New Orleans has historically been the largest entry point for Irish immigrants in the South. Parades are based in neighborhoods and community organizations. There are influences of Mardi Gras in the festivities, and people will throw carrots, onions, cabbage and potatoes to “make” an Irish stew.

New York City, NY

New York City boasts one of the largest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade. There will be 150,000 marchers that include bands, firefighters, military, and police groups as well as other social groups from the community. The 69th Infantry Regiment always leads the parade.

Syracuse, NY


If you travel upstate to Syracuse, you will find excitement over the green beer that is delivered to Coleman’s Irish Pub on the last Sunday in February. This pub is located in Tipperary Hill, an historically Irish section of the city.

San Diego, CA


Held in Balboa Park, San Diego’s St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival includes three performance stages, a kid’s zone, a Celtic village, crafts and food booths, two beer gardens, and more.


(Photo: Flickr, Elliot Brown)

In Birmingham, its large Irish community, has a parade over a two-mile route through the city. London also has a parade, music, dancing, food, and plenty of family-friendly activities. Manchester hosts a two-week long Irish festival with an Irish market, massive parade,and many cultural and educational events.

Munich, Germany

(Photo: My Ireland Tour)

A parade in Munich is organized by the German-Irish Society of Bavaria. This parade is the largest you will find in continental Europe. The parade is two kilometers long and is the Sunday preceding St. Patrick’s Day. After the parade, there is an open-air party with live music and dancing. Irish pubs are also an excellent way to celebrate in Germany.

Seoul, South Korea

(Photo: Wandering On Travel Blog)

In Seoul, the Irish Association of Korea puts on a parade and festival. The festival includes live music, folk dances, and family-friendly events. The Seoul City Hall turns green in celebration.

Tokyo, Japan

(Photo: Tokyo Weekender)

Enjoy the parade on Omotesando Avenue organized by the Irish Network Japan. The street is lined with Irish and Japanese flags for the celebration. Celebrations include festivals, music events, and parties throughout the city as well as restaurants and bars serving green beer.

Julie Provost is an associate editor at Military One Click and a National Guard spouse. She can be reached at