In London on the 17th of March? Depending on where you’re originally from, you might be used to donning green and drinking pints of beer on St. Patrick’s Day. If you’re in England’s capital for it this year, here’s how you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in London.

But first…

What and when is St. Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th of March in honour of Saint Patrick, the patron of Ireland. Every year people around the world put on our favourite green attire, draw four-leaf clovers and drink tons of Guinness.

But do you know how this all came about?

What’s the origin of St. Patrick’s Day?

The story dates back to the 4th century in Roman Britain where a 16-year-old boy was kidnapped and sent to Ireland as a slave. A few years later, a voice came to him that it was time to leave, so he returned to England where he joined religious studies, and after about fifteen years, he was ordained as a priest. His first mission was to go to Ireland to preach to the local Christians and to convert more of the Irish, which was a success due to his knowledge of the Irish culture. He used their native traditions and incorporated that into Christianity.

By the time of his death on 17th of March 460AD, he had established churches, monasteries and schools, and legends about him started circulating. While known as Saint Patrick he was actually never canonised by the Catholic church.

What were some of the legends?

The ones you’ve probably heard of are:

He drove the snakes out of Emerald Isle (Ireland) by giving a sermon, which drove them into the sea. The island is still snake-free to this day.

While green is hugely associated with this holiday, the Order of Saint Patrick actually wore blue. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the celebration colour turned to green, rumoured to be because supporters of Irish independence used this colour to represent their cause.

The walking stick that turned into a tree. The tale recounts the time when St. Patrick was returning from a visit to England, carrying a walking stick, and he would stop along the way and preach to the local villages, it’s said that in one of his stops he preached for so long that the stick grew roots and turned into a tree.

Where is St. Patrick’s Day celebrated?

It wasn’t until the 1700’s that St. Patrick’s Day started being celebrated across the world. Irish emigrants started settling all over, mostly in North America, and huge elaborate celebrations started happening in places like Boston (1737) and New York (1762).

New York is said to host the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade with over two million attendees and 150,000 people marching. Chicago has dyed their river green for it every year since 1962 (don’t worry, it’s environmentally friendly). London also hosts a ton of events and an annual parade with over 50,000 spectators.

What to do on St. Patrick’s Day in London

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Attend the London St Patrick’s Day Parade

As mentioned above, London hosts a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, although it doesn’t fall on the actual day, but instead it’s on the Sunday closest. You can expect pageantry, marching bands, Irish dancing schools, concerts, choirs, live music etc.

The parade starts at Hyde Park Corner and makes a 2km route through Piccadilly, St James’s Street, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street and Whitehall.

St Patrick’s Day Parade | Celebrated on the 13th of March 2022

Attend the St Patrick’s Day Festival

Another part of the Mayor of London’s celebrations is the St. Patrick’s Day Festival, which happens on the same day as the parade. Stop by Trafalgar Square to see some of the Irish acts, concerts, dances and much more. Take a moment to swing by the food market to try out some delicious Irish dishes too.

St Patrick’s Day Festival | Celebrated on the 13th of March 2022

How to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in London - Attend a Shamrock Session at BoxParkImage Courtesy of BoxPark

Attend a Shamrock Session at BoxPark

BoxPark is a venue filled with small independent street food vendors serving up cuisines from all over the world. On St Patrick’s Day, they’re hosting Shamrock Sessions and Friday Feelings at their Wembley and Croydon locations. Expect live music with artists like Shakeout, Blag and Barn Storm taking the stage with a repertoire of traditional Irish songs.

There’s also free face painting and plenty to eat and drink.

BoxPark Wembley: Shamrock Sessions and Friday Feelings
BoxPark Croydon: Shamrock Sessions and Friday Feelings
Attend on 17-18th of March 2022

How to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in London - Join a St Patrick’s Day 5k Run at Hyde ParkImage Courtesy of London Kilt Run

Join a St Patrick’s Day 5k Run at Hyde Park

For a super healthy and active way to celebrate, why not head out for a fun run at Hyde Park? This is the second year of this event after it started in 2020. Tickets are only £11 and the race starts at around 11 am.

St Patrick’s Day Run | Attend on 19th of March 2022

How to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in London - Enjoy an Irish poetry sessionImage Courtesy of Tea House Theatre

Enjoy an Irish poetry session

Head to Tea House Theatre to watch their literary resident artist Alain English as he hosts For The Love of the Irish. In it, he’ll give the audience a literary whistle-stop tour through some of the best of Irish poetry.

Tickets are £22.15 per person.

For the Love of the Irish: Poetry Session | Attend on the 17th of March 2022

How to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in London - Visit St Patrick’s ChurchImage Courtesy of St Patrick’s Church

Visit St Patrick’s Church

Head to Soho Square to visit St Patrick’s Church, which is considered to be the first Irish Roman Catholic church in Britain. As you head inside, look up to find the following inscription: VT CHRISTIANI ITA ET ROMANI SITIS (“Ut Christiani ita et Romani sitis”, i.e. “Be ye Christians as those of the Roman Church”), a quote taken from the writings of St Patrick.

Alternatively, you can attend their St Patrick’s Day Vigil Mass on the 6th or the Feast Day Mass on the 17th.

St. Patrick’s Church | Visit all year

How to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in London - Hit one of London’s Irish pubs/barsImage Courtesy of Howl at the Moon

Hit one of London’s Irish pubs/bars

To wrap the celebrations (or start them, we won’t judge) head to an Irish pub or bar and order yourself a Guinness. Here are a few options for you:

Even though these aren’t venues aren’t Irish, they’re celebrating the holiday:

No matter how you choose to celebrate, if you want to get involved on the 17th of March, there are plenty of ways to have a super fun St. Patrick’s Day in London.

And for more things to do in London in the month of March, check out this article next.

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Jessica Dante

Jessica Dante

Jess is the founder of Love and London, an online travel guide that helps London tourists to visit London like they live there. She's been featured in Refinery29, Forbes, BBC Radio 2, HuffPost, and more. Jess is also a sustainable and ethical travel advocate.