A recent study out of WalletHub proclaimed Philadelphia the third best city in the United States to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. That’s not much of a surprise, considering some of the best bars in Philadelphia are Irish pubs like McGillin’s and Moriarty’s, and, at 248 years old, we have one of the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country. As such, celebrating the green holiday, which takes place on March 17, is one of the best things to do in Philadelphia—whether you‘re throwing down with the crowds in one of our local bars or sticking to the streets and Philadelphia parks to watch the shenanigans go down from the sidelines. If you’re more of a hands-on type of partier, check out our guide to the best St. Patrick’s Day events in Philadelphia below. It covers popular annual bar crawls like the Erin Express and parties happening in watering holes around town.
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Best St. Patrick’s Day events in Philadelphia
Every St. Patrick’s Day fan in Philadelphia should get onboard the Erin Express at least once. The daylong affair is essentially a bar crawl to 15 different pubs in the city—starting at the Green Room in Spring Garden at 9am and ending up at Sláinte Pub & Grill in University City. Transportation is absolutely free, and no ticket is necessary to take part. Just show up, hop on one of the buses and drink yourself silly. It all goes down on March 17 from 9am to 6pm, and you can hop on the bus from any point throughout the day. For the full list of locations, go here.
McGillin’s is the premiere—and oldest—Irish pub in Center City, so naturally it’s pulling out all the stops for St. Patrick’s Day. The party starts at 10am and lasts for 16 hours with green beer flowing all day. There’s a $5 cover, but that’s a small price to pay to take part in one of Philadelphia’s quintessential—and most hype—St. Paddy’s Day experiences.
From the creators of Erin Express comes this ticketed event for folks who like the idea of a raucous bar crawl but with a little more order. Your ticket, which ranges from $10 to $25, grants you access to 10-plus bars in Old City and along South Street, including Copabanana, Silence Dogood's Tavern and National Mechanics, where you can get specials like $3 domestic beers and $4 mixed drinks. The first 200 people to show up get free T-shirts and there will be plenty of beads, hats and glasses to go around.
Combine St. Patrick’s Day and a good neighborhood block party and you have the makings of an ultimate Philadelphia experience. This family-friendly bash at St. Stephen’s Green (1701 Green St) goes from 10am to 7:30pm with live performances from Irish dancers, a kid zone, corn hole, beer pong tables, face painting and more. With free admission, and 16-ounce Miller Lite cans for $3, this is one of the cheapest parties in town.
If you like the bar crawl idea but want to stay indoors, Xfinity Live! is the spot for you. There are several bars within the complex, including the Flyers-themed Broad Street Bullies Pub, the PBR Bar and Grill complete with a mechanical bull and 1100 Social. For its St. Patrick’s Day bash on March 17, expect lots of green beer and a live performance by new age cover band Bangarang in Victory Beer Hall. Heads up to you late arrivals, parking is free at 8:30pm.
The Vesper Sporting Club throws a block party in the heart of Center City on March 17 from 2 to 7pm. The no-cover bash features a live band and DJ, games and drink specials that include $3 glasses of champagne, $4 beer-mosas, $5 green tea shots and $12 car bombs. Can’t wait till 2pm? Throw on your shamrock socks and run to Vesper at noon for four hours of bottomless mimosas for $25.
The laid-back Center City Irish pub is throwing an all-day soiree that stretches from 7am to 11pm. Start your morning with an Irish coffee, then chug your way through a selection of Irish whiskeys while you enjoy the day’s itinerary, including screenings of three rugby games, live music from two bands and a DJ, and the St. Baldrick's Foundation head-shaving event that raises funds to cure childhood cancer. The cover is $10.
Whomever said “dead men tell no tales” has never been to Laurel Hill Cemetery on St. Patrick’s Day. Join tour guide Jerry McCormick at the cemetery as he reveals stories about and raises a toast to some of the proud Irish souls buried on the historic grounds. The event begins at 1pm on March 17 at the Lauren Hill Cemetery Gatehouse. It costs $20 and that gets you the tour, and beer and a hearty meal courtesy of Kearney Kommissary.
The 12,000-square-foot sports bar in Center City hosts an indoor-outdoor event featuring live music from the Sensational Soul Cruisers, Stateside vodka specials and, for VIP ticket holders, $2 Miller Lites. The bash goes from 11am to 1pm on March 17, and is located just across the Street from Reading Terminal Market, an excellent starting point for folks on a bar crawl looking for a little stomach-filling sustenance before consuming all the boozes.