While most people associate St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with New York or Boston, our party-loving city easily holds her own when it comes to honoring the Emerald Isle. Everyone knows about the Creoles and the Cajuns, but many don’t realize that waves of Irish immigrants began arriving in the Big Easy as early as the late 1700s. In fact, the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in New Orleans was held way back in 1809. There’s even an area of the city called the Irish Channel. Today’s St. Paddy’s traditions might be a little bigger and more elaborate than those of yore, but they are an essential part of Nola history and culture. Read on for our #FrayLife guide to celebrating Erin go bragh!
Throw Me Something, Mister!
If New Orleans is known for one thing, it’s parades. We commemorate St.Paddy’s in our signature style, hosting not one but six different parades between mid-March and early April. You may think you know what to expect, but don’t confuse St. Patrick’s Day parades with Mardi Gras. Sure, there will be plenty of beads and floats, but there are some unique traditions as well. Expect to see dapper gentlemen and ladies walking with canes lined with plastic flowers—you’ll have to give them a kiss if you want to earn one. Clear out your fridge before hitting the parade and bring your tote bags, because St. Patrick’s Day parade throws include carrots, onions, potatoes, and much-coveted cabbages. That’s right, keep your eyes on the marchers because you will be pelted with vegetables, and no one wants a black eye from a rogue potato. The full parade schedule can be found online.
#FrayLife Tip: For the most throws by far (bring your biggest totes!), check out the Metairie Road Parade, which actually falls on St. Patricks Day this year!
Take It to the Streets
If you’re looking to keep the party going once the parade rolls by, block parties are another fun way to show your Irish pride (we’re all Irish on St. Paddy’s, right?). There’s always plenty of free music and entertainment, and food and beverages are available for purchase. Grab your squad and get things started early on March 14 at the Irish Channel Block Party. Make St. Paddy’s a weekend affair by hitting Parasol’s Block Party and Tracey’s Block Party on March 16 and the parades on March 17.
Plan a Paddy’s Pub Crawl
New Orleans must have the highest bar per capita in the country, so it goes without saying that there are plenty of Irish pubs to choose from to get your drink on come St. Patrick’s Day. Expect plenty of specials, especially on Guinness and old country grub like corned beef and cabbage. There are so many options—why not head to the Quarter and make it a St. Paddy’s bar crawl? Start with Molly’s at the Market for the city’s best frozen Irish coffee, then move on to Erin Rose, Kerry Irish Pub, and Boondock Saint (yes, the movie is played). Not a fan of hobnobbing with the tourists? Head to Finn McCool’s Irish Pub or Mick’s Irish Pub in Mid-City, or Markey’s Bar in Bywater.
#FrayLife Tip: Run or walk the Shamrockin’ Run 8K in Audubon Park on the morning of March 17, so you can enjoy yourself guilt-free later in the day. Register online to save a few bucks (to be used later on Guinness, of course)!
Show St. Joe a Little Love Too!
Here in Nola, we have a long history of Italian immigration as well as Irish, and thus, we also celebrate St. Joseph’s Day, which falls on March 19 each year. This celebration of Italian culture is marked by building altars, baking tons and tons of cookies, and, of course, more parading! Since the two holidays are so close together, the festivities get intertwined, and there is even a Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade in Metairie and an Irish-Italian Islenos Parade in St. Bernard Parish. Green not really your color? Wear red instead to show off your Italian pride. Not Irish or Italian? No problem! In New Orleans, we love revelry, and everyone is always invited to the party.
How are you going green for St. Paddy’s? Share with us in the comments and tag #NolaFray and #FrayLife in all your social posts!
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