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15 alternative ways to celebrate St Patrick’s Day


Do you love St Patrick’s Day, but hate the paddywhackery of the green pints and bad renditions of the ‘The Fields of Athenry’? Nothing puts fear into an Irish expat quite like the idea of spending March 17 in a chain bar, surrounded by people asking them to say ‘thirty-three and a third’, so why not try something different? This year, the holiday lands on a Friday (a tiny compensation for the shitshow that was 2016) and we’re here to help you make the most of it with a guide to the best alternative Paddy’s Day events. 

Stretch it out for a week

Line your stomach with something more than ‘soakage’ at The Water Poet, where they’ll be serving an all-Irish menu for a five-day hooley in honour of St Patrick. Meet Irish craft beer brewers Bru in the garden barn on Wednesday March 15, join for an evening of food and booze pairing on Thursday March 16 and if you still have room by March 17, there will be lines of Guinness on the bar, ready for supping. The Water Poet. Shoreditch High St Overground. Prices vary.

Boondocks Cinema

Head to the movies

Watch Martin Scorsese’s bloody-knuckled portrayal of Irish immigration to America at the Boondocks Cinema Club screening of 'Gangs of New York’ as part of London Book and Screen Week. Come for the food, stay for Daniel Day-Lewis’s excellent moustache. Below Boondocks Restaurant. Old Street tube. £15. 

Swap Guinness for cocktails

Get into the spirit of things at The London Cocktail Club’s masterclass with Teeling Irish Whiskey. There will be a sample tasting, plenty of expert whisky chat and a chance to make your own drinks. The masterclass finishes at 9.30pm, leaving plenty of time to pick up where you left off. The London Cocktail Club. Oxford Circus. £25. 

Embrace some trad music

Things are going to get reel for Kila’s St Patrick’s Day gig at the London Irish Centre in Camden. The modern folk group play electric trad music filled with the thundering sound of bodhráns and tin whistles. The lyrics are all in Irish, so you might learn some Gaeilge beyond ‘póg mo thóin’. London Irish Centre. Camden tube. £16.

Join Northern Ireland’s ‘food revolution’

Belfast’s OX restaurant is so popular it can take months to secure a booking, so it’s pretty much a no-go on last-minute weekend breaks. But you can try food cooked by its head chef Stephen Toman at the Ox St Patrick’s Day pop-up at Carousel in Mayfair. Forget bland boiled potatoes, Toman is more about the chateaubriand followed by a dessert of Bushmills jelly. Carousel. Green Park tube. £83.20.

Get down with this sort of thing! (Careful Now)….

Craggy Island is on its way to Clapham for the Father Ted-A-Thon St Patrick’s Day Special at The Grand. There will be a screening of three select episodes (voted for by the public), a ‘lovely girls’ competition and prizes for the best nun/priest costume. Can you booze dressed as a man of the cloth? That would be an ecumenical matter. The Grand. Clapham Junction. £5.

Folk of the Wood

Get folked up

Jig yourself into a frenzy at the ‘Folk of the Wood St Patrick’s Ceilidh’ at the Portico Gallery, where Charlie Chaplin once performed. You’ll never find a better reason to visit West Norwood. Portico Gallery. West Norwood Overground. £10.

Find your inner pagan

Explore a darker side to Irish history at ‘St Patrick or The Pagans?’ where you’ll sing songs of cannibalism, infidelity and grave-dancing while tucking into a three-course Irish banquet in the impressive surroundings of Hackney’s Round Chapel. Round Chapel. Hackney Central Overground. £30.  

Mix it up with some Balkan beats

Northern Irish group Balkan Alien Sound will be making the crowd cut some rug with their raucous mix of Celtic, klezmer, gypsy and Balkan music at the Magic Garden pub. The Magic Garden. Battersea Park Overground. Free before 8pm, £5 after. 

The Crown and Shuttle

Walk the green trail

Taking its name from a line in the WB Yeats poem ‘Easter, 1916’, the Terrible Beauty walking tour will take you from Trafalgar Square to Whitehall, exploring the impact of the Irish rebellion of 1916 from the London perspective. Meet at the South Side of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square at 2pm on March 17 to take part. There will be two others over Paddy’s weekend: Where the String Broke, a history of Camden as the city’s Irish capital (Camden Town tube March 18, 2pm) and The Emerald City, a walk through the city’s Irish landmarks along Fleet Street to Covent Garden (meet at the main steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, Sunday March 19, 2pm). 

Get to know Irish cinema

With the 2016 Oscar nominations for ‘Brooklyn’ and Lenny Abrahamson’s ‘Room’, Irish filmmaking is finally getting a look in on a global scale. Running from March 17-19, the Irish Film Festival has a programme of Irish-made features and animation, held in association with the Mayor of London. Two highlights are a screening of award-winning Irish short films on March 17 at The London Film School (5pm-9.30pm, free) and the ‘Song of the Sea’ and Shadow Animation Workshop at Regent Street Cinema on Sunday March 19 (1-5pm, free).

Hear Irish verse underground

Look out for performers of Irish music and spoken word, who will pop up at Victoria, Waterloo, Tottenham Court Road and Covent Garden tube stations throughout the day on March 17. 

See some gaelic art

Visit an exhibition by father and son John B and Lorcan Vallely, two talented contemporary figure painters, at City Hall, curated by The Barbara Stanley Gallery. City Hall. London Bridge. Until Mar 31. Free.

One for the kids

Go on a St Patrick’s Day quest from Stratton Street to the National Portrait Gallery, led by clues from Irish characters on Sunday March 19. 

Visit Camden Market

With its sea of Union Jacks, this market isn’t normally a bastion of Irishness, but on Saturday March 18, it will be overrun with shamrock hats for the Paddy’s weekend celebrations. There’s the ‘Camden Culture Trail’ from 12pm-6pm, with pop-up bands in Voodoo Ray’s and the Ampitheatre, and an augmented-reality showcase from Firstage, where you can enjoy VR performances from all over Ireland. Look out for the Family Festival of workshops and dancing sessions in the North Stables Market (12pm-5pm) and keep your ears open for the Family Concert with folk music from Kila and Moxie (£6). Camden Market. Camden tube. Sat Mar 18. Free-£6. 

Find even more things to do in London for St Patrick's Day.

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