15 of the best St. Patrick’s Day parades

(CNN) — March is a grand time of year when you’re Irish. Or when you’re of Irish heritage. Or when you wish you were of Irish heritage. Or when you just claim you’re Irish even though you’re not.

St. Patrick’s Day, which is on Sunday, March 17, in 2019 draws out the Irish in plenty of people all over the world.

And one of the best ways we celebrate this is with parades — boisterous, green-colored, shamrock-festooned parades.

What follows are 15 of the best St. Patrick’s Day parades in destinations around the world, along with a short history of the saint himself and the holiday first:

So who was St. Patrick anyway?

Patrick was born in 385 A.D., back when Ireland was still pagan territory. When he was 16, the British-born Patrick was brought to Ireland as a slave. He escaped six years later and became a priest.

He eventually returned to the island and started converting the natives to Christianity. He’s the patron saint of Ireland and as such is invoked to protect the spiritual and worldly interests of the island and its people.

He died in 461 A.D.

How is the day celebrated?

In 2016, an NYPD officer marches with his son past Manhattan's St. Patrick's Cathedral in the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

In 2016, an NYPD officer marches with his son past Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland. That means banks, stores and businesses close for the day. The holiday has stronger religious overtones in this strongly Catholic country.

The US Census says about 32.6 million US residents claimed Irish ancestry in 2017. This is more than six times the population of Ireland (5.1 million). It’s more of a secular event and a party in the United States, and plenty of non-Catholics join in.

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston in 1737. And it’s just grown from there.

And now, let’s get to those 15 parades! Click the link in each city for details:

Parades in the United States

Boston: Of course this city heavy with the influence of the Irish throws a great parade. Up to a million people can be expected to attend the parade that winds through South Boston. Starting 1 p.m. Sunday, March 17. (All times in the roundup are local).
Buffalo, New York: This often-snowy city doesn’t let weather stop the party. The grand marshal in the 2019 parade will be the third generation in his family to serve in that role. 2 p.m. Sunday, March 17.
Chicago: Dyeing the Chicago River green isn’t the only thing they do here to celebrate. The parade’s 2019 theme is “The Music of Ireland.” Noon Saturday, March 16.
Dallas: Texas is known for doing things big, and the Dallas parade claims it’s the largest in the Southwest. 2019 will mark the 40th anniversary of the parade. 11 a.m. Saturday, March 16.
Denver: They haven’t forgotten the Irish out here at the base of the Rockies. The downtown Denver parade is one of Colorado’s largest annual events. 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 16.

The Kenny's Old Farts float tosses cabbage on Magazine Street in New Orleans back in 2008.

The Kenny’s Old Farts float tosses cabbage on Magazine Street in New Orleans back in 2008.

Matthew Hinton/AFP/Getty Images

New Orleans: Like this city needed another excuse to throw a party! In the Big Easy, they have numerous neighborhood parades instead of just one big one. From Friday, March 15, to Saturday, April 6.
New York City: The biggest city in the USA throws an impressive parade of school and military bands along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. 11 a.m. Saturday, March 16.
Savannah, Georgia: The smallest city on the USA portion of this roundup punches above its weight with one of the most memorable parades and celebrations in the country. 10:15 a.m. Saturday, March 16.

Parades around the rest of the world

Up go the batons in Dublin's 2018 St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Up go the batons in Dublin’s 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

Dublin: You didn’t think we’d do a St. Patrick’s Day parade roundup and leave out Ireland’s capital, did you? The 2019 parade theme is “Storytelling,” something we’ve heard the Irish have a gift for. Noon Sunday, March 17.
London: You might be surprised to see London on the list given the historical English-Irish tensions, but it’s a new age and around 50,000 people come to watch floats, marching bands and sports clubs go from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square. Noon Sunday, March 17.
Montreal: While this is French territory, there’s also a notable Irish thread running through Montreal. 2019’s parade is expected to have 20 floats, 25 bands and about 4,000 participants in this multicultural Canadian city. Noon Sunday, March 17.
Montserrat (see PDF for schedule): This is another spot with surprising Irish connections. In the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, this Caribbean island honors those who led an attempted slave uprising. The parade traditionally salutes this spirit with lively drummers and dancing but also a moment of silence. 1 p.m. Monday, March 18.
Munich: What’s a German city to do between Oktoberfests? Why, throw a parade for the Irish! Parade organizers say it’s the third largest celebration in this city known for its parties. The 2019 parade has 63 participants lined up. Noon Sunday, March 17.
Perth, Australia: Irish influence is indeed worldwide, even in faraway Australia. Post-parade activities extend into the early evening. 10 a.m. Saturday, March 16.
Singapore: This celebrated melting pot of Asia also blends in cultures from other continents, including that of the Irish. And their parade is just one part of three days of street festivals and live music. 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 17.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery above for past parade highlights in many of these cities. And don’t despair if your parade didn’t make the list. After all, the “best” St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the one you’re attending.

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