Fair dos, St. Patrick’s Day is all about celebrating the Irish national patron saint, not any of the British equivalents, so it’s not a national holiday in the UK. But that doesn’t mean it’s not celebrated. In fact, nowadays, up and down the country, whenever it rolls round to the 17th March, the day’s embraced with a gusto and revelry usually only reserved for the likes of birthdays and religious festivals such as Christmas. And nowhere more so than in London.
Actually, that probably isn’t very surprising really, as the capital’s home to move than 175,000 Irish people and countless more who can lay claim to ancestry from the Emerald Isle. As such then, it’s a city brimming with Irish pubs and bars – and a population only too used to giving into the craic every mid-March. But should 17th March this year fall during your short-break in the city – and you fancy sampling what’s going on – where should you head and what should you throw yourself into?
Fittingly, 2017’s St. Patrick’s Day is on a Friday, so as far as event organisers are concerned this is a great excuse to hold a full weekend’s worth of celebrations. Indeed, there’s actually an official one that’ll be spearheaded by the annual parade that winds its way through the West End (19th March). It’ll be over-spilling with colourfully flamboyant floats, marching bands and, yes, performers drawn from many an Irish dancing school, kicking off in Piccadilly at 12noon. Which all means that if your place of stay during your time in the capital’s centrally located (at, for instance, The Marble Arch by Montcalm London), this is a terrific thing to stroll along to see and take in on the day.
The Gaelic gaiety that day, though, will be arguably most focused in Trafalgar Square, for its here that Irish acts and West End stars will come together to entertain and celebrate with thousands throughout the morning and afternoon; other highlights are bound to be a giant céilí and a welter of pop-up food stalls providing traditional and modern Irish dishes and treats and all-day family-friendly fun.
That’s far from all that’s going on, though – be sure to catch one or more of the following activities too:
- Go on a free Irish walking tour and discover London’s fascinating and eventful Irish-focused history (17th-19th March)
- Take a moment to take in Irish music and poetry while travelling on the Tube – specifically at the Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road, Victoria and Waterloo stations (17th March)
- Pop along to Hackney Round Chapel to learn the real story of St. Patrick himself – and tuck into a fantastic banquet and give some dancing a go (17th March)
- Step into a Central London cinema – including the art-house treasure that’s the Prince Charles just off Leicester Square – and catch an Irish movie screening; the weekend season includes comedies, thrillers, short films and the acclaimed animation Song of the Sea (17th-19th March).