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The Irish really know how to celebrate, so when it comes to St Patrick’s Day in London, the city’s Irish community have no problem showing us how it’s done. A day to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, the occasion is always one big welcoming bash. Expect lots of dancing, hearty traditional dishes, a huge parade and as many pints as you can handle.
The official holiday lands annually on March 17 (a Tuesday in 2020), but this year the main London celebrations take place in Trafalgar Square March 13-17.
At this year’s three-day shindig, more than 50,000 revellers are expected to descend on Trafalgar Square for a lively parade of music and ceilidh dancing, plus plenty of things to do with the kids, from an Irish folk show and film festival to Irish walking tours. Feeling peckish? Fill up on traditional grub from the Irish Street Food Market.
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.
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.
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