TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - Mar 4, 2014) - The travel experts at Cheapflights.ca, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, are still in party mode. Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations may be winding down, but you won't have to wait too long for the next big reason to party -- St. Patrick's Day. On March 17th, the world will be celebrating the lucky Irish and the "fun" experts at Cheapflights.ca have compiled a Top 17 St. Patrick's Day Party Towns around the world where the streets (and pubs) will be lined with "green".
The lively Irish culture and influence reaches to every corner of the world. Below are seven of our picks for top St. Patrick's Day party towns (from a specially extended list of 17) found on this side of the pond. These are all spots where Irish music, song, dance and culture ... and a pint of Guinness (or two) will be on tap for St. Paddy's Day.
- Boston, Mass., United States - About 1 million celebrants flock to South Boston each year and new Mayor Martin J. Walsh may be there too, as talks are ongoing about including gay organizations in the festivities after a two-decade ban. It was in Boston that Saint Patrick's Day was first observed (by the Charitable Irish Society of Boston if you're wondering) but New York got in there first, holding a parade in 1762. It's the second-largest parade in the US though (again, New York is in first place). Along with the marching bands, colourful floats, Irish dancers, Veterans, St. Patricks, Storm Troopers and Darth Vaders that skip along the sea of green from West Broadway to Dorchester Avenue on March 16, there's a 5k road race and plenty of Craic Agus Ceol (fun and music) and, of course, a plethora of Irish pubs to have it in. Note: March 17 is also Evacuation Day, which marks the time following the Siege of Boston in the American Revolutionary War, when the British forces were evacuated from the city of Boston.
- New York, N.Y., United States - The world's oldest and largest parade is run entirely by volunteers. Some families have been volunteering, turning a stretch of New York green, for generations. There has been a St. Patrick's Day parade in New York since March 17, 1762. Although the day has become synonymous with exuberant, alcohol-fueled shenanigans, there's no drinking allowed along the parade route: Fifth Avenue between 44th Street and 79th Street. There's also a ban on gay rights groups or marchers with gay pride signs so the St Pat's For All parade in Queens, now in its 15th year, is another option.
- Chicago, Ill., United States - There are several miracles associated with St. Patrick. He converted the Pagan Irish to Christianity, brought people back from the dead (as well as a horse and some mad cows owned by his aunt). The greatest, of course, was driving the snakes out of Ireland. So, it makes sense that a river might miraculously turn green for a few hours on March 17. Every year, with a little bit of help from the local plumbers union, the Chicago River magically turns green; this year, the river will be dyed March 15 at 10 a.m. The city's parade route starts at the corner of Columbus Drive and Balbo then meanders North to Monroe. In another Chicago-inspired miracle, the White House fountains in Washington, D.C. will flow green. The link? Michelle Obama, a Chicagoan.
- Montreal, Quebec, Canada - As one of the founding groups of Montreal, the Irish have always had their place in the Francophone city. This year, the parade is March 16 (the 191st consecutive parade starts from the corner of du Fort Street at noon and marches east as far as Phillips Square), but the United Irish Societies of Montreal start to celebrate in February by raising the Irish community flag outside Place Ville Marie. There's a Mass of Anticipation in early March, and an Awards Banquet at the end of the month puts a seal on the season. Partner pubs are a roll call of pure Irish-ness: Hurley's Irish Pub, McKibbin's Pub, Kelly's Pub, Old Dublin Pub and Duffy's Pub all serve coffee and breakfast before the parade and thousands of pints of the black stuff afterwards.
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada - Half a million spectators wearing some little shred of green line the parade route between Bloor Street and Queen Street at Nathan Philips Square. The Toronto St. Patrick's Day Parade is a festival of St. Patrick, Ireland, Canada and multiculturalism. There are colourful, spectacular floats from a variety of cultural groups. 2013's parade featured 70 marching sections and 28 bands. This year, at the 27th annual parade, there will be an Olympic gold medalist Grand Marshal (Katie Taylor, a boxer - the current Irish, European, World and Olympic Champion), dancers from the Native Canadian Centre and marchers from Scouts Canada. The Toronto festivities have some heavyweight sponsors including Aer Lingus, Jump into Ireland and McDonald's, which might be a popular place to wind up (Shamrock Shake, anyone?) after the St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl March 15.
- Montserrat, Caribbean - Montserrat, a lush little island in the Caribbean is also nicknamed the Emerald Isle. That's where the similarity to the other Emerald Isle ends. Looking at temperature and rainfall, Montserrat enjoys a balmy 17-degree average temperature with about 400mm of rain each year. In Ireland, the average temperature is 10 degrees and average annual rainfall can be in the region of 1400mm. Montserrat has a strong Irish heritage, however: In the 17th century Irish Catholics, persecuted on other Caribbean islands, found a welcome home on Montserrat. The same Irish Catholics had originally been banished from Ireland by Oliver Cromwell. This is also the only country outside Ireland where St. Patrick's Day is a public holiday. A week-long St. Patrick's Festival (March 9-18) is held; it's a fun fusion of Irish, African and Caribbean culture, and one of Montserrat's most popular annual events. The festivities feature a Freedom Run and the Masqueraders (masked street dancers) will dance and prance to the sound of fifes and drums.
- New Orleans, La., United States - The St. Patrick's Day festivities in New Orleans run March 13-23. The city's Irish heritage stretches back to the 1840s, and in the home of Mardi Gras, St. Patrick's Day is done a little differently. It's the only parade where you can leave with the ingredients for a traditional Irish meal. During the Metairie Road St. Patrick's Day Parade -- the largest of the parades -- float riders chuck green beads and trinkets for the spectators to catch. They also pass down potatoes, carrots, cabbages, onions and seasonings for an Irish stew. But we don't know if the meat is distributed! The annual Metairie Road St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place from 11 a.m. until around 3 p.m. March 16. There are six parades in total and festivities are spread throughout the Greater New Orleans Area, including Jefferson Parish, the French Quarter and the Irish Channel.
Clearly, there are plenty of party options in the Americas for St. Patrick's Day. However, if you find yourself in any of the remaining corners of the world -- Europe, Asia or Africa -- then check out these towns where you are sure to have a memorable St. Paddy's Day: Dublin, Ireland; London, England; Birmingham, England; Cape Town, South Africa; Moscow, Russia; Tokyo, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Munich, Germany; Bologna, Italy; and Sydney, Australia. To read the details on these and Cheapflights.ca's complete Top 17 St. Patrick's Day Party Towns, visit www.cheapflights.ca/travel/top-17-st-patricks-day-party-towns.
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