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Where to Find 2013’s Best Shamrock Shenanigans

Wondering where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Look no further. We’ve compiled a list of the best U.S. cities to get your party on for St. Paddy, whether your travels take you to the east coast, the west, or somewhere in between. Green beer? Plenty of it. Bagpipers? You bet. Plaid pants? Prepare yourself.

Boston

With almost a quarter of Bostonians of Irish descent, Beantown is probably the luckiest city in the country. Music of the celtic-inspired Dropkick Murphys flavors Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, which is full of historical significance thanks to the Irish Society of Boston hosting the first parade in 1737. Thirsty for knowledge? Stroll down the city’s Irish Heritage Trail, which has 20 sites of cultural interest in the downtown area and more in greater Boston. This year, the South Boston Parade will be held on Sunday, March 17th at 1:00 p.m. on West Broadway at Dorchester Avenue. Enjoy marching bands, almost a million attendees, parties, pubs, and pots of gold along the way.

New York City

Touted as the “oldest, biggest, and the best,” the St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York City is also one of the longest and most populous. Held this year on Saturday, March 16th, the parade has over 250 years of history in the city, originally organized by British soldiers. Starting on 44th Street, the impressive procession extends as far as 86th Street, with 150,000 marchers and over 2 million spectators (for the full Line of March, click here). After the parade, take a walking tour of Little Ireland, get creative with Irish crafts in Central Park, and visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral on 50th Street. You won’t have to look hard for the Irish bars scattered throughout the city, and the human shamrocks, jugglers, and jesters won’t be far behind.

Hot Springs, AR

If New York’s St. Paddy’s Day celebration is the oldest, biggest  and the best, Hot Springs, Arkansas boasts what may be the youngest, shortest, and the strangest. Since 2004, Hot Springs has hosted a Parade King and Queen, and often celebrity Grand Marshal (Mario Lopez and Pauly Shore have both played the part) for the 98-foot-long procession. Kick off the party with The Blarney Stone Kissing Contest, then play spot-a-leprechaun until the 6:30 p.m. parade starts (followed by a post-parade concert). Ready to rock? Look for Irish Elvis at this party, along with San Diego Chicken and other quirky surprises. Festivities take place in Hot Springs National Park on March 17th; green attire required.

Chicago

The Queen of Chicago’s 2013 St. Patrick’s Day Parade has already been named, and the dyeing of the Chicago River is soon to follow. An environmentally-friendly green dye has been used every year since the 1960s, providing the perfect backdrop for your plaid pants and emerald-colored top hat for that postcard to Mom. Join throngs of festive Midwesterners at the corner of Columbus and Balbo for the parade–and get there early. The parade starts at 12:00 noon on Saturday, March 16th, runs along Grant Park and ends near the Art Institute of Chicago.

Kansas City

Sunday, March 17th, 2013 will mark Kansas City’s 41st annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. For tradition’s sake, you may choose to start with a Gaelic Mass at Redemptorist Catholic Church; all are welcome (Catholic or not). A solo bagpiper leads the parade, followed by a slew of wacky, cultural and creative floats as part of the annual contest to win a trip to Ireland. Later, most locals head to the Westport district for a sampling of Irish brews after the parade, and those feeling charitable can participate in the Go for the Green food drive.

San Francisco

Eclectic displays of art and culture characterize San Francisco’s shamrock shindig, which offers family-friendly fun by day, and a sizzling hot club-hopping scene by night. The parade is on March 16th at 11:30 a.m. and features local politicians, Irish bands, pan flutes, fiddles, and fun for everyone. Discover author talks, storytelling and dance performances at the Crossroads Irish-American Festival, which lasts until April 26th. Get your afternoon started at Durty Nelly’s and Blarney Stone pubs, then meander down the historical trolley tracks to one of the many block parties hosted by bars throughout the city. Live music, green beer, and free cab rides are easy to come by.

Scranton, PA

You’re scratching your head thinking, “Scranton…why does that sound familiar?” Scranton, PA is the beloved home of both the Dunder Mifflin paper company in television show The Office, and a fantastic, off-the-beaten path St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Known to locals as “Scranton’s version of Mardi Gras,” the celebration begins with a 10:00 mass at St. Peter’s Cathedral, followed by a parade at noon. Local musicians, bagpipers, and dancers along with more than 12,000 participants comprise the parade–and you’re invited to share your talent, too! You might just win the award for best “Irish Smile.”

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