When you’re Irish in London, St Patrick’s Day can be a sad time. You want to grab every expat you know, speak fractured Gaeilge and watch a circle of trad players pummel bodhráns in a darkened corner – while simultaneously wanting absolutely nothing to do with it because it can never be the same as ‘home’.
For the homesick, St Patrick’s Day still means something, even if you have to listen to people with detachable orange beards massacring the word ‘craic’. Take note, everyone making their way into Waxy’s Little Sister: you have good craic, you tell your friends that night was ‘some craic’. You do not have ‘a good craic’ or a ‘craic fest’. And don’t do crack, it's not good for you.
When you’ve resigned yourself to doing nothing, a hot green panic sets in as the day arrives. You start thinking of the Irish friends back home, hanging out in Conollys or An Teach Beag or Brennan's or whatever little pub you drank in as a teenager – all without you. And before you know it, you’re nursing a disappointing Guinness in an overcrowded bar, listening to some guy tell you how he loves Flogging Molly and ‘had a girlfriend from Tipperary once’.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are loads of great St Patrick’s Day events in London (especially as this year it coincides with the Six Nations final, which apparently is pretty popular). You just need to know where to look. Try this lot for starters.
A very-well-organised piss-up in a brewery can be found at 40FT, with choons from DJ Arveene and Irish blogger Nialler9. Warm up with a modern take on Irish stew from chef Robin Gill and even hotter drinks from the poitín bar. They’ll be showing the rugby too, so relax.
40 Shades of Green 2 at 40FTBrewery. Dalston Kingsland Overground. Sat Mar 17. £5.
London’s alleged ‘first queer Irish party’ has one beautiful mission: to put the gay into Gaelic. That means whiskey, Barry’s Tea and a sprinkle of Enya topped off with a ‘Culchie Cabaret’ (ask an Irish friend about that last part).
The Glory. Haggerston Overground. Sat Mar 17. £8, tickets on door only.
Missing ‘Peaky Blinders’? Dig out your flat cap and sup a glass of something strong at a gangster-themed night beneath Waterloo. Trad music, dance, storytelling and enough whiskey to raise the dead will be flowing until 3am.
Ruckus at The Vaults. Waterloo tube. Sat Mar 17. From £17.50.
The St Patrick’s Film Festival in London has a decent programme of features, shorts and animation for this three-day celebration of Irish filmmaking. Make sure you catch Oscar-nominated animation ‘The Secret of Kells’.
St Patrick’s Film Festival London. Various venues. Fri Mar 16-Sun Mar 18. Prices vary.
The Folk of the Wood crowd are returning to the Portico Gallery (where Charlie Chaplin once performed) for another massive ceilidh. Make sure you book in advance, though. They were turning people away last year, and you do not want to get stranded in West Norwood (unless you live there, we love you really, WN).
Portico Gallery. West Norwood Overground. Fri Mar 16. £15, £12 concs.
Tuck into sea urchins, abalone, snails, Achill lamb and seaweed as The Dairy restaurant pays tribute to some ancient Irish dishes to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and its fifth birthday.
The Dairy. Clapham Common tube. Until Sun Mar 18. Prices vary.
Drag queens ShayShay and Just May are both half-Irish, and together they will make you feel whole again at the Maybe Baby brunch. Wake up with an Irish coffee and get ready to hear every Irish winning Eurovision song, see some fake Riverdance and enjoy lots of Irish lols. The event will be raising money for Opening Doors, a charity providing information and support services for older LGBT+ people in the UK.
Dalston Superstore. Dalston Kingsland Overground. Sun Mar 18.
Want more? Try our guide to St Patrick’s Day in London.
And have a Guinness that won’t disappoint at the best Irish bars and pubs in the city.