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The Best Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in NYC

February 12, 2018 - by City Guide News Desk
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New York's Irish population may be 13%, but come St. Patrick's Day it feels like the entire city is Irish. In the days leading up to and just after March 17th you can find Irish culture across New York. The city’s main event is the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which heads up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 86th Street. Loretta Brennan Glucksman, cofounder of Glucksman Ireland House, will serve as Grand Marshal of the 257th version of the parade, which features bagpipes, bands, and dancers among its 150,000 marchers. The parade runs from 11am to 5pm, at which point the city’s bars swell with revelers. Read on for the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in New York City.

St. Patrick's Day NYC 2018: Beer & Bites

Heartland Brewery

Heartland Brewery, as the name suggests, is a purveyor of fine house-made beers and makes a fine burger to boot. Take a break from the parade at the Empire State Building’s Heartland Brewery & Rotisserie, where you can refuel with fish and chips and their American lite ale. In the less congested area of Gramercy, stumble into Molly’s Irish Pub and Restaurant Shebeen and find yourself in 19th-century Ireland. With a wood-burning fireplace and sawdust on the floors, Molly’s has stayed intact as an Irish pub since 1895 (a “shebeen” is an illegal bar or pub). Grab a pint of Guinness and Irish lamb stew, and you’ll be transported to the Emerald Isle for a while.

If you’re around Times Square and looking for Irish merriment, take a stop by Gleason’s Tavern. Enjoy the beer-battered cod sandwich or the Reuben along with Irishes like Bushmills, Jameson, Paddy’s, or Power’s. In the past, Gleason’s has offered specials around the holiday like bangers and mash; we’re holding out hope they’ll treat us to some more Irish fare again. After Gleason’s, head a few blocks up to O’Lunney’s. In addition to a mean shepherd’s pie, they serve a variety of beers like the Irish brands Guinness and Smithwick. O’Lunney’s is pleasantly gigantic, so come here with your crew in tow.

With locations at Times Square and Union Square, Lillie’s Victorian Establishment will give you another taste of Ireland. The owners are the real deal, raised in Counties Mayo and Monaghan, and it shows in their sensational takes on Irish soda bread, corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes. Don’t let the quirky antique interiors fool you, though; there’s plenty of beer and booze to go around at Lillie’s. Try the signature cocktail, the Warhorse: it’s Jameson, mint, pepper, lime, and honey.

McSorley's

Established in 1854, McSorley’s Old Ale House has the honor of being the oldest bar in New York. Its rugged pub charm attracts plenty of devotees around St. Patrick’s Day. It’s also on St. Mark’s Place, a street for party animals year-round in the East Village. At McSorley’s, be prepared for insane crowds the entire weekend (the 17th is a Saturday: praise be!), even during breakfast hours.

St. Patrick’s Day in NYC 2018: Cruises

Looking for a booze cruise for St. Patrick’s Day? Hornblower Cruises & Events is taking passengers aboard a cruise ship for an affordable $32.15 per person. The ship leaves from Pier 15 at South Street Seaport. The cruise lasts from 5 to 7, so you can eat or keep the party going for the rest of the evening. If you’re looking for a later cruise with live music, board a boat with Empire Cruises. The ship leaves from Skyport Marina at East 23rd Street and lasts from 8 to 10:30pm.  

St. Patrick’s Day in NYC 2018: Music

Infuse your St. Paddy’s revelry with some blues and R&B. At B.B. King Blues Club & Grill near Times Square, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes will play March 17 at 7 pm. This prolific band, with over 30 albums under its belt including the new “SOULTIME!” Enjoy some beer and a dish of mac ‘n cheese while you listen to the band.

Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney

Pay more direct homage to St. Patrick at his namesake cathedral in Midtown East at the annual Irish Heritage Concert. On March 15 at 7 pm, the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir will be joined by organists and the band Mick Moloney and Friends, led by Moloney, a professor of musicology and Irish Studies. The evening will feature traditional and contemporary Irish music and is free for all to enjoy (it gets crowded, so come early!).

Listen to Ireland’s up-and-coming stars, Saint Sister, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on March 7. Part of National Sawdust’s Spring Revolution festival celebrating multicultural women, this performance will showcase Saint Sister’s compelling electro-folk music and surely win them some more fans in the States.  

St. Patrick’s Day in NYC 2018: Irish Arts Center Events

The Irish Arts Center is your one-stop shop for Irish events this March and all year round. On March 11, bring your family to the Annual St. Patrick’s Open Day. From noon to 4 pm, participants can learn Irish dance steps, make crafts, see performances, and drink tea at IAC’s Hells Kitchen location. The same night, adults can enjoy some belly laughs at Sunday Nights at Seven in March. This March 11 comedy show will feature comics from stages like Gotham Comedy Club and your favorite late-night shows at the IAC’s Donaghy Theatre.  

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon

Monday, March 12, enjoy Irish music and poetry with the delightful Paul Muldoon, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet, at Muldoon’s Picnic. House band Rogue Oliphant and guests The Lost Brothers will play the event. Writer/scholar Lucy McDiarmid, singer-songwriter Pierce Turner, and poet Monica Youn, will also share the stage at this culture picnic, also held at the IAC on West 51st Street.

If your appetite for literature hasn’t been sated, grab a free book or two at the 8th Annual IAC Book Day. On St. Patrick’s Day, IAC staff and volunteers will give out books by Irish and Caribbean writers at public spaces in all five boroughs from 7 am till the books dry up. Check IAC’s social media for distribution locations in the weeks leading up to Book Day!

St. Patrick’s Day in NYC 2018: History

The Moores Lower East Side Tenement Museum

1869 at 97 Orchard Street. Discover what life was like at 97 Orchard Street in 1870 for The Moores, an Irish family that lived in the building OR the Scheiders, a German couple that lived behind a saloon that they ran in the basement. At the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

For insight into the Irish immigrant experience, check out the Lower East Side’s Tenement Museum, where the “Irish Outsiders” tour brings a family of 1869 New York to life. If you can't make it on the 17th, the tour actually runs every day.

Another famous historic house in New York will be putting on several tours for St. Patrick's Day. The Merchant's House Museum in the East Village preserves the oldest intact family house in the city, with an original 1832 late-Federal brick exterior and spectacular Greek revival interior rooms. The night of Friday, March 16, check out the “‘Spirit of the Irish’ Candlelight Ghost Tour,” and hear how eight people died in the house. On the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day, check out the guided tour A Tribute to the Tredwells’ Irish Servants with Bridget Murphy.” This back-stairs look at the house provides insight into the life of an 1850s Irish worker in New York.

In Battery Park City, the Irish Hunger Memorial, which recreates a rural Irish landscape, points back to the Great Irish Famine. Over one million people perished in the famine, which occurred between 1845 and 1852. The small memorial features plant life of the north Connacht wetlands, as well as low stone walls and Kilkenny limestone. It was designed by Brian Tolle. In addition to reminding us of the devastating Irish famine, this lovely elevated space gives voice to world hunger today.

Saint Patrick's Day in NYC 2018: Burlesque

For an alternative take on St. Pat's, head out to Brooklyn's Littlefield for Wasabassco's Saint Patrick's Day for Sinners. A night of drinking, celebration, and an All-Redheads line up. Starring Nasty Canasta, Francine The Lucid Dream, Gal Friday, Kita St Cyr, Nina La Voix, Sydni Deveraux, Tiger Bay, and more! littlefieldnyc.com

Saint Patrick's Day in NYC 2018: Souvenir Shopping

st patricks day t shirts fdny

2018 FDNY St. Patrick's Day t-shirt (2 colors). Show your Irish pride! Be the first to rock this FDNYShop 2018 limited edition annual St. Patrick's Day t-shirt (every year features a new image and they're limited edition). 100% pre-shrunk cotton t-shirt is available in green and navy. While you're at the FDNY Fire Zone in Rockefeller Center, grab the 2018 FDNY Calendar of Heroes, which lets you celebrate the men (or women) of the FDNY and EMS every month. Items are also available online. 34 W. 51st St. (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.), 212-698-4520, FDNYShop.com

Saint Patrick's Day in NYC 2018: Kids

Kids Fleadh

The Craic Fest Craic 20 presents the Kids Fleadh Saturday, March 10 at Cinepolis Theater (formerly Bow Tie Cinemas on West 23rd Street). A fun program of award-winning Irish short films and Irish step dancing (the Niall O’Leary Dancers) for ages 5-12 starts at 11:30am sharp. $10 for adults, $10 for kids, thecraicfest.comYou can buy tickets here.

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