Singing, dancing, a parade and a pint or two - the Irish have always known how to party and celebrating St Patrick's Day in London is no exception. St Patrick’s Day in London is a chance for Irish London (and, of course, anyone and everyone who's Irish-at-heart) to hit the streets and show the city the true meaning of the word ‘craic’.
The official holiday lands annually on March 17 (a Saturday in 2018), but the main London celebrations usually take place a day later in Trafalgar Square on March 18.
There’ll be a lively parade of music, food and ceilidh dancing, plus plenty of things to do with the kids. If you can’t face the crowds, we've rounded up the best St Patrick’s Day happenings below. Or if you want more cultural inspiration, check our pick of the best London events in March. Get ready for a very green weekend.
When is St Patrick’s Day?
It’s always March 17, but in true Irish fashion, St Patrick’s Day sessions usually run throughout Paddy’s weekend. In 2018, it officially lands on Saturday 17 March 2018.
What is St. Patrick's Day?
The date supposedly marks the death of this guy called (yep, you guessed it!) St Patrick, who travelled to Ireland in the fifth century to convince Irish pagans that Christianity is where it’s at. Do you associate Ireland with shamrocks? That’s down to him too: the story goes that St Patrick used the three-leaved clover to describe the Holy Trinity to non-believers. Oh, and legend says he banished snakes from the country by chasing them into the sea. Best mull that last part over with a Guinness.
Where is the London St. Patrick's Day Parade?
London’s St Patrick’s Day parade lines the streets from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square and cheers on a stream of leprechaun floats, traditional musicians and squads of Irish dancers. The main stage at Trafalgar Square will be surrounded by a street food market and a ‘tea tent’, with a line-up of Irish bands. Basically it’s a big, rip-roaring one-day festival, only the pints are a shade of Gaelic green.
Sink a Guinness at an Irish pub
Bloomsbury Club Bar
With a twinkly, cosy, vine-clad terrace beckoning us into The Bloomsbury Club bar from the street, I was taken aback by the frosty manager who said there’d be no space – outside or in – for me and my friend for at least two hours. Perhaps we weren’t as preened as the average punter. But on a detour (okay, snoop) around the rest of the hotel we found the indoor section of the bar, where seats were offered up by more friendly waistcoated staff. I’m so glad we persevered. Wood-panelled and dressed to the nines, The Bloomsbury Club oozes plush appeal: English gent’s club meets library, the cabinets filled with booze rather than books. The analogy is apt, as the bar takes its inspiration from the group of writers and artists who hung out together in this area in the early twentieth century. There’s a drink named after each of the Bloomsbury Set’s ten core members, so you can sip on a Virginia Woolf or a Duncan Grant (a gorgeous whisky drink with a maraschino sweetness). The room is decked out with chesterfield armchairs, punctuated by modern, teal velvet stools. A semicircle of high-backed chairs rings the bar, a prime spot where I was able to soak up the expert mixology while peering at a jazz duo twanging at the foot of the room. So plan ahead if you want a seat in one of the leaf-covered alcoves on that alluring terrace. But don’t be disheartened if it’s full – the indoor bar is the real deal.