St Patrick’s Day typically conjures images of revellers in Dublin or flamboyant parades in east-coast cities of America, such as New York and Boston. But you may be surprised to learn that St Paddy’s Day celebrations can be found the world over, from Russia to the Caribbean. Some of the most unusual locations can be found below as Send My Bag takes a look at how St Patrick Day is celebrated around the world.
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Although almost 3000 km away from Dublin and not known for a huge Irish contingency, Moscow is nonetheless host to the annual Irish Week festival. The festival’s main event is the St Patrick’s Day Parade held in Sokolniki Park. Spectators lining the route are typically dressed in leprechaun hats and shamrock-shaped glasses, or with white, green and orange painted on their faces. Those taking part in the parade sport quirky costumes and, in the past, have included stilt walkers dressed as the Irish flag and Irish dancers wearing faux fur sashes. The parade is typically followed by an 8-hour long gala concert called ‘Day and Night’.
There are few places that stand in such stark contrast to Moscow as the islands of Hawaii. Yet here, too, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated with gusto. Hawaii holds a large St Patrick’s Day parade through the Honolulu neighbourhood of Waikīkī, ending up at Kapi’olani Park. But the main celebrations take place at Murphy’s annual block party. This Irish Bar and Grill holds events for kids during the day, before kicking off the block party at 4pm, when revellers can start to enjoy live music, DJs, lots of dancing and Irish beverages.
In Dubai you may be surprised to find a place called The Irish Village, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. Here you can enter a traditional Irish pub, decorated with genuine Irish items shipped over from Emerald Isle. It is here that you can enjoy a three-day celebration of St Patrick’s Day, with live traditional Irish bands and DJs on the 15th and 17th March, plus a family fun day on the 16th, along with performances by Irish dancers.
Not all that far from Ireland as the crow flies, but with a population of predominately Icelandic roots, Reykjavik nevertheless chooses to mark St Patrick’s Day every year. The city does this in a big way by turning its major landmarks green. Buildings like the Harpa Concert Hall, the Pearl and Hallgrímskirkja join in with the Aurora Borealis as they are all bathed in green light. The city’s Irish pubs naturally get involved in the celebrations, with special events laid on at the Dubliner and the Drunk Rabbit.
Another surprise location for St Patrick’s Day festivities is Tokyo, where a big parade has been held every year since 1992. The parade coincides with an Irish cultural festival that takes place at Yoyogi Park, where various aspects of Irish culture are showcased, such as traditional music, Irish dancing and Irish sport, and where Irish stew and Irish stout can be sampled. Thousands of people typically attend this ‘I Love Ireland Festival’ organised by the Ireland Japan Chamber of Commerce.
The Norwegian Irish Society hosts Oslo’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations every year, laying on Irish treats, from an Irish magician, to Irish dancing, and traditional Irish music. This after party is laid on following the St Patrick’s Day parade through Oslo city centre, which itself culminates in an address from the Irish ambassador and a rendition of the Irish national anthem.
Perhaps one of the most unlikely venues for a St Patrick’s Day celebration is the Caribbean island of Montserrat. This tiny island holds one of the most protracted St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world, often lasting up to ten days. This is a celebration of the island’s Irish roots, with a number of islanders being descended from Irish migrants who landed there in the 17th century. The culmination of the days-long celebration is St Patrick’s Day itself. Like Ireland, Montserrat enjoys a full-blown public holiday on 17th March. But the day holds additional significance for Montserratians, as it is the anniversary of an attempted slave revolt in the 18th century against the island’s colonisers. On St Patrick's Day you will see plenty of people dressed in stereotypical fancy dress or with their faces painted green. But there is a distinctive Caribbean twist to proceedings, as can be seen in the colourful St Patrick’s Day parade, and other events unique to this culture, such as a ‘Freedom Run’ to celebrate freedom from slavery, street-drumming sessions, and cricket matches.
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