Post Overview: Things to Do on St. Patrick’s Day in New York City
Did you know that in the 19th century folks of Irish background accounted for nearly a quarter of New York City’s population? It’s impressive that an island across the Atlantic Ocean contributed so heavily to the creation of the greatest city in the world!
Irish New Yorkers have served as politicians, businessmen and women, purveyors of some of the best comfort food in the city and know how to throw a party. That’s why celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is must if you’re visiting New York City in March.
The holiday celebrates the bishop St. Patrick, who also happens to be the patron saint of Ireland. The day has evolved into a broader celebration of Ireland’s culture as a whole, observed by both Irish and non-Irish folks alike.
The myriad of Irish pubs, community centers and organizations host events across the city where you can eat, drink, dance and learn about Irish culture. There’s countless things to do on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC, the hard part is choosing just one.
That’s why I’m writing this post sharing the best things to do on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. Hopefully it gets the wheels turning in helping you decide whether you want to day-drink in a pub or visit a community center for an entertaining history lesson.
Are you ready to get into it? Because I know I am!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best Things to Do | St. Patrick’s Day NYC
Learn some Irish History
I’m a believer that if you’re going to participate in another culture’s festivities you should at least know what and why you’re celebrating. I mean St. Patrick’s Day is more than just an excuse to drink beer and wear green!
That’s why one of the best things to do on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is to spend some time learning about Irish history. At one point Irish immigrants made up nearly a quarter of the city’s population. And little breadcrumbs of the past are everywhere.
Below I’ll go over a few places you can visit on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC for further insight on Irish history.
- The Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park pays homage to the more than 1.5 million deaths during the Irish Famine. The half acre garden has more than 60 kinds of Irish flora providing a peaceful place for reflection.
- The Tenement Museum (one of the best things to do in the Lower East Side) tells the story of immigrants in New York City. You can take a tour of an apartment from 1869 that housed an Irish immigrant family.
- The American Irish Historical Society serves as a center for Irish learning, housing more than 10,000 books of Irish-American literature. You can take a tour of the society and learn about its history Monday through Friday from 11AM to 2PM.
My suggestion is to visit these sights before St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. That way you’re still able to partake in the festivities (which we’ll get to later in the post) on the actual day.
Partake in the New York Irish Whiskey Festival
Founded in 2019 the New York Irish Whiskey Festival provides one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. Folks get to sample over 25 different Irish whiskeys, enjoy live music and a handful of small bites.
There are two sessions available. One from 1:30 to 4:00PM and another from 5:30 to 8:00PM — both offering the same experience. The event will be held in Battery Park in a venue spaced called The View at the Battery. Tickets are $75 and can be purchases in advance.
The festival is a great opportunity for both casual drinkers and experienced whiskey connoisseurs to try something new. Although all the whiskeys fall into the Irish category each one is uniquely made and has distinct tastes.
The best part is that the New York Irish Whiskey Festival takes place Saturday, March 11th, the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. By being on two different weekends you’re essentially doubling the time you have to party.
Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.Mark Twain
Attend a Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland Concert at Carnegie Hall
Attending the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland’s concert at Carnegie Hall is one of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. Not only is that thanks to the fantastic music, but thanks to its symbolic status. Allow me a brief explanation.
During a time known as The Troubles there was an armed conflict over disputed territory in northern Ireland.
The territory belonged to the United Kingdom, but Irish nationalists wanted to take it back and unify all of Ireland. Of course, the U.K. fought back, resulting in a decades long war that separated neighbors and families.
Finally, in 1998, the Good Friday Agreements ended the conflict. Without getting too into the weeds, it allowed Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Fast forward to present day, the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland consists of 160 student musicians. Coming from both sides of the Ireland-U.K. border performing a variety of traditional music.
Considering the orchestra is a symbol of peace there’s few better ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement! So the show at Carnegie Hall will be a special one.
Take a Photo with a Green Empire State Building
They don’t call New York City the Empire State for nothing! Soaring to dizzying heights of 1,454 feet, the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world for 40 years (from 1931–1971).
It’s one of New York City’s most iconic buildings, and odds are if you’re visiting you’ll snap at least one photo of it. Why not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC by take a photo with the Empire State when it’s lit up green?
That’s right! The top of the building will be illuminated by green lights to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. And if you look extra close you’ll also notice the mast has a rotating Irish flag.
Drink Green Beer at Loreley Beer Garden
Loreley Beer Garden, you boozy, beautiful thing – you have me at your mercy. I’m a sucker for your outdoor heated patio and colorful decorations. And even more so for the adult beverages you never seem to run out of.
There are plenty of Irish pubs to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC, but you’re going to want to stop by this Lower East Side bar at least once. From the 14th to the 20th of March, Loreley Beer Garden serves green beer!
There are also $9 pours of Guinness, Irish Coffees and green margaritas to help you get the full NYC St. Patrick’s Day experience. Loreley’s also does a great job offering specials, and each day brings a new deal to splurge on.
But drinks alone don’t make Loreley Beer Garden one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC, they have the decorations to match. The drinks comes with green top-hats and the patio is lusciously green for spring.
Address: 7 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002
Reclaim the Spirit at Sober St. Patrick’s Day
For better or for worse St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is largely associated with drunken buffoonery. If you want to participate in a more PG form of St. Patrick’s Day in NYC why not swing by The Church of Our Saviour Undercroft for a sober celebration?
There will be music, dance and story telling celebrating the rich Irish culture without the need to worry about tripping over inebriated locals. The lack of alcohol makes the event one of the best things to do on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC with kids.
To reclaim the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day by changing the perception and experience from an occasion for binge drinking and other misuse of alcohol to a celebration of the richness of Irish culture and the legacy of St. Patrick.The Sober St. Patrick’s Day ® Foundation, Inc. Mission Statement
The celebration consists of three part: a pre-parade reception, participation in the St. Patrick’s Day NYC parade and a post-parade party. The reception and marching with Sober St. Patrick’s Day’s group are free, but you’ll need to purchase tickets for the post-parade celebration.
Tickets are available online, as well as resources and clips of past years’ NYC Sober St. Patrick’s Day festivities. There’s a full lineup of the award winning Irish musicians and dancers too so you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Visit the Irish Arts Centre
Paying a visit to the Irish Arts Centre is one of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC, especially if you have little ones. The community center hosts music, dance, crafts and film screenings celebrating Irish culture.
Even better, it’s one of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC for free. Indeed, the event doesn’t cost anything more than a great time so be sure to invite neighbors, family and friends (but reserve your spot online).
The event takes place on Sunday March 19th, which is the same weekend as St. Patrick’s Day but not the day itself. Be sure to mark your calendars accurately to avoid showing up on the wrong day!
Another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is by picking up a free book brought by way of the Irish Arts Centre. There will be book-gifting stations in all five boroughs (specific sites yet to be announced) where you can pick up a free book celebrating Irish and Irish-American literature.
Celebrate 1,400 feet in the Air at Summit One Vanderbilt
Summit One Vanderbilt is New York City’s newest observation deck and has immediately become my favorite. Nearly every surface (including the floors and walls) is either a window or mirror, so it can feel like you’re floating 1,400 feet up in the air!
If you’re visiting NYC on St. Patrick’s Day consider booking tickets to the observation deck. In celebrating the holiday Summit One will be serving green beer out of their 93rd floor cafe named Après.
The observation deck will also light up green in honor of the holiday and the best view won’t be on the street, it’ll be on the deck itself. I won’t go as far as to say it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity (there’s always next year), but I will say it’s one of the most memorable ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC.
Tickets are available online and I suggest booking sooner rather than later to avoid missing out on the NYC St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Address: 45 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Have a drink at the Dead Rabbit
Opened in 2013, The Dead Rabbit was named after an Irish gang that ran rampant in lower Manhattan. The founders hail from Belfast and had a simple goal, to create one of the best upscale cocktail bars in New York City with the atmosphere of Irish pubs, and they delivered.
Winning several awards (most notably #1 bar in the world in 2016) it shouldn’t come as a surprise the pub is one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC.
And since St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday the NYC bar is making it an all-weekend party. There will be live music (at least two gigs per day) performed by Irish artists that is sure to curate a festive, high-spirited atmosphere.
The St. Paddy’s menu will feature five Irish whiskey cocktails that are sure to get you in a celebratory mood. And if you visit on St. Patrick’s Day itself one dollar of every cocktail sold will be donated to NYC’s Irish Arts Centre.
Lineup and schedule is available on The Dead Rabbit’s website, but unfortunately reservations aren’t available for this NYC Saint Patrick’s Day event.
Address: 30 Water St, New York, NY 10004
Swing by St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the most beautiful church in New York City. There I said it. Named after the Patron Saint of Ireland, The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches right in front of its doorsteps.
Located right off 5th Avenue, this Neo-Gothic style cathedral has been stopping people in their tracks since its completion in 1879.
Welcoming more than 5 million visitors per year, this iconic New York City cathedral took 21 years to build because construction halted during the Civil War.
With a seating capacity of 2,000 people per mass, this is one of the largest cathedrals in NYC. Touring the interior is a no-brainer and self-guided tours are free, so swing by if the doors are open.
Albeit not necessarily Irish themed it was named St. Patrick’s in response to New York City’s rising population of Irish immigrants. Exploring the church of the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC and If you want a more in-depth experience, sign up for a guided tour.
You’ll be amazed by the stained windows, which consist of 3,700 stained glass panels. The star of the show is the breathtaking Rose Window which spans 26 feet. You’ll also notice the 20 alters located within the confines of this sacred space, two of which were designed by Tiffany & Co.
There’s also a basement crypt that serves as the final resting place of every cardinal of New York. The cathedral was recently renovated to the tune of $177 million, so you can bet it’s a sight for sore eyes and something you’ll want to see if you’re visiting NYC on St. Patrick’s Day.
Address: 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022
Visit an Irish Pub
When I first moved to New York City eight years ago I lived down the street from one of the best Irish pubs in New York City. Having never been to Ireland or visiting a pub before, I blindly visited for happy hour and was immediately hooked.
Fast forward to my first St. Patrick’s Day in NYC and that same pub was packed to the brim. I had no idea that on St. Patrick’s Day everyone in NYC is Irish, but I gladly joined in on the drinking.
I found a home away from home along with some of the friendliest folks I’ve ever met, both barkeeps and other patrons! Few establishments capture the warmth of an Irish pub and there is literally no better place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC.
Fair warning though – a lot of folks don’t know how to control their alcohol. St. Patrick’s Day in NYC can be a bit of a circus but if you’re looking to party there’s no better excuse (except maybe SantaCon).
If you’re in need of suggestions below I’ll outline some of the best Irish pubs in NYC and their neighborhoods. If you need more recommendations or want more of an in-depth review read our post 12 Incredible Irish Pubs in New York City (You Won’t Want to Miss).
- McSorley’s – East Village
- The Long Room – Times Square
- Peter McManus – Chelsea
Cheer on the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Date: March 17, 2023
Shocker shocker, the best thing to do on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is to attend the annual parade! The NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade dates all the way back to 1762. Meaning it’s a tradition older than America itself.
The event is organized by New York City’s robust Irish population. The parade honors the patron saint of Ireland and has evolved to celebrate Irish culture as a whole.
Contrary to other modern parades, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade doesn’t allow cars or floats. Instead there are 150,000+ marchers that make their way up Fifth Avenue past an estimated 2 million people!
Since the parade is one of the most popular events on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC you’re going want to show up early to get a good spot. The parade starts at 11AM at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street, and ends between 4:30 and 5PM at Fifth Avenue and 79th Street.
If you’re visiting NYC in March the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the best events to attend. But if you choose not to attend – try to avoid Fifth Avenue because of the traffic and crowds.
Things to do on St. Patrick’s Day in New York City (Post Summary)
- Cheer on the St. Patrick’s Day parade
- Visit an Irish Pub
- Swing by St. Patrick’s Cathedral
- Have a drink at the Dead Rabbit
- Celebrate 1,400 feet in the air at Summit One Vanderbilt
- Visit the Irish Art Centre
- Reclaim the Spirit at Sober St. Patrick’s Day
- Drink green beer at Loreley Beer Garden
- Take a photo with a green Empire State Building
- Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland at Carnegie Hall
- Partake in the New York Irish Whiskey Festival
- Learn some Irish history
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day NYC (Map)
And there you have it friends, the best things to do on St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. Stay safe out there and don’t forget to wear green!