Ten best St. Patrick's Day events
New York is one of the greenest cities in America, and not just 'cause we're really into Al Gore and organic produce. Channel your inner Irishman at one of these Paddy-themed fetes.
Thu Mar 12 2009
There won’t be any automobiles or floats parading down Fifth Avenue during the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade; look instead for retired firefighters and the usual onslaught of high-school marching bands, Irish dancers, politicians (such as Mayor Bloomberg and Congressman Joseph Crowley) and global music acts, including the three singing priests from Belfast. FREE Fifth Ave from 44th St to 86th St (718-231-4400, nyc-st-patrick-day-parade.org). Tue 17 11am--5pm.
Since you’re in it to win it, hop aboard the 11th annual Luck of the Irish St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl, a lineup that’s gunnin’ to smash a Guinness World Record. More than 100 bars in the East Village, Murray Hill and the Upper East Side are offering debauchery-friendly drink specials, including $1 Buds and $4 shots of Jameson. And no, you’re not hallucinating: There will be a team of paparazzi leprechauns hopping from bar to bar. Various times and locations (212-724-3900, saintpattys.com). Sat 14, Sun 15, Tue 17; $20--$35.
The Irish Arts Center’s annual Open Day puts some substance back into St. Paddy’s. End your weekend celebration with the majestic strings of Mia Theodoratus’s Celtic harp, a Gaelic language workshop, Irish-themed film screenings and dance performances. There are also plenty of activities for the wee ones—like face painting and arts ’n’ crafts—so bring the whole clan. FREE The Irish Arts Center, 553 W 51st St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves (212-757-3318, irishartscenter.org). Sun 15 noon--5pm.
For many New Yorkers, St. Pat’s is second only to Christmas in terms of celebratory merriment. Learn how and why March 17 has transcended other holidays during Big Onion’s Irish New York walking tour. Hint: It has a lot to do with the monumental role the Irish played in shaping our cultural landscape—from dangerous Five Points to the city’s first Catholic church. Meet in front of St. Paul’s Chapel on Broadway between Fulton and Vesey Sts (212-439-1090, bigonion.com). Sat 14 at 1pm, $15.
Any bar can throw a shamrock in the window and call itself Irish, but The Mean Fiddler blows all those phonies away with its weeklong St. Pat’s celebration. Head there after the parade and you’ll catch the Pearl River Irish Dancers from Dublin, the 608 Irish Carpenters Union Bagpipers and a Pogues cover band. Irish radio DJs will be spinning tunes from their homeland throughout the week, but if you’re looking to meet a sexy man with an accent, drop by on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15, when the bar hosts members of the Dublin Fire Brigade and Cork police department, respectively. FREE The Mean Fiddler, 266 W 47th St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (212-354-2950, themeanfiddlernyc.com). Fri 13--Tue 17.
Whet your St. Patrick’s Day appetite at The Stroehmann Sandwich Slamm Corned Beef on Rye Eating Contest, where the world’s piehole-stuffing champs will compete for $10,000. The contenders include Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, current champion of the Coney Island hot-dog-eating contest; Pat “Deep Dish “ Bertoletti, famous for eating 21 pounds of grits in ten minutes; and our very own New York burrito-eating superstar, Tim “Eater X” Janus. Just steer clear of the toilets afterward. FREE Gallagher’s Steak House, 228 W 52nd St between Broadway and Eighth Ave (212-245-5336, ifoce.com). Mon 16 noon.
Just when you think you can’t get any more festively vert, George Keeley proves you wrong with his specially brewed Blue Point green ale. Embrace your good fortune with a complimentary bowl of Lucky Charms or house-made corned beef and cabbage, while bagpipes serenade your converted Irish soul. FREE George Keeley, 485 Amsterdam Ave between 83rd and 84th Sts (212-873-0251, georgekeeley.com). Tue 17 10am--4am.
For a more historical evening—don’t worry, they’re still serving alcohol—pop by the Merchant’s House Museum, arguably the oldest site of Irish habitation in New York City. The Bridget Murphy’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration takes place in the servants’ quarters, which are usually closed to visitors; there you’ll listen to the sweet hum of bagpipes, hear reenactors tell stories of famine and struggle (fun!), and sample traditional Irish cuisine, including Bridget’s Bread Cake. Merchant’s House Museum, 29 E 4th St between Bowery and Lafayette St (212-777-1089, merchantshouse.org). Tue 17 6--8pm, $15--$30.
Even comedians need an excuse to get drunk once in a while, and here you have it: At the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre’s O’Harold Night, the usual slew of improvers hit the stage with a St. Patrick’s Day twist—the first group of comics will appear sober, and each one that follows will be drunker than the last, until neither them (nor you, hopefully) can stand. UCB Theatre, 307 W 26th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-366-9176, ucbtheatre.com) Tue 17 at 8pm, $5.
Instead of freezing your arse off on Fifth Avenue, join world-class dancer and choreographer Niall O’Leary’s Irish Dance Troupe for an afternoon of classic and modern step dance at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden. Because seriously, there are palm trees there. FREE World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, 220 Vesey St between North End Ave and the West Side Highway and West St (worldfinancialcenter.com).Tue 17 at 12:30pm.
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RECOMMENDED: A guide to St. Patrick's Day in NYC