Believe it or not, the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade didn’t take place in Ireland. Its roots are actually in the U.S., though some say Boston while others claim New York. Regardless, what began as a Catholic feast day and gained more recognition with a parade in the 18th Century is today one of America’s biggest cultural holidays. More than 32 million people in the U.S. claim Irish ancestry – that’s nearly seven times the population of Ireland. As this lucky group of people expanded over the centuries, so too did American St. Paddy’s Day traditions. Chicago, for instance, gained fame for dyeing its river green, while other places are now known for their elaborate pageants, pub crawls or long processions of marching bagpipers. This year, Americans are projected to spend $6.16 billion on the holiday.
But not every city that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day is worth kissing the Irish for. WalletHub compared 200 of the largest cities across 17 key metrics to find the best places to wear green and save some, too. Our data set ranges from Irish pubs and restaurants per capita to lowest price for a three-star hotel on St. Patrick’s Day to weather forecast. Read on for the list of winners, insight from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology. For cool stats about the holiday, check out our St. Patrick’s Day infographic.
Best Places to Go for St. Patrick’s Day
Ask the Experts
As one of the biggest holidays in the U.S., St. Patrick’s Day can bring a sizeable economic boost to cities, but it poses challenges as well. Safety is a particularly important concern. For insight and advice, we turned to a panel of experts. Click on their profiles to read their bios and thoughts on the following key questions:
- Why is St. Patrick's Day so popular in the U.S.?
- In evaluating the best cities for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, what are the top five indicators?
- Are large St. Patrick’s Day celebrations an economic benefit or drain for cities?
- What are some social and economic considerations for cities considering hosting St. Patrick’s Day celebrations?
- How can local authorities promote safety and reduce alcohol-related accidents on St. Patrick’s Day?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, WalletHub compared 200 of the most populated U.S. cities across four key dimensions: 1) St. Patrick’s Day Traditions, 2) Costs, 3) Safety & Accessibility and 4) St. Patrick’s Day Weather.
We evaluated those dimensions using 17 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best conditions for celebrating the holiday. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
We then determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
St. Patrick’s Day Traditions – Total Points: 50
- St. Patrick’s Day Parades: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Length of St. Patrick’s Day History: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Note: This metric measures the difference between 2020 and the year when the city's first St. Patrick's Day parade was held.
- St. Patrick’s Day Parties & Festivals per Capita*: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
- Share of Irish Population: Triple Weight (~13.64 Points)
- Irish Pubs & Restaurants per Capita*: Triple Weight (~13.64 Points)
- Access to Bars: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Note: This grade measures a combination of availability (bars per 100,000 residents) and proximity (bars per square mile).
- Google Search Interest for “St. Patrick’s Day Events”: Full Weight (~4.55 Points)
Note: This metric measures search interest for “st patrick's day parade”, “st patrick's day activities” and “st patrick's day party”.
Costs – Total Points: 20
- Average Price for St. Patrick’s Day Party Ticket: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Average Beer Price: Triple Weight (~10.00 Points)
Note: “Beer” refers to a pack of six 12 oz. Heineken containers, excluding any deposit.
- Lowest Price of a Three-Star Hotel on St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Affordable 4+ Star Irish Pubs & Restaurants: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Safety & Accessibility – Total Points: 20
- Crime Rate: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- DUI-Related Fatalities in Motor Vehicle Crashes per Capita: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: The fatalities that took place in March were used to calculate this metric.
- Traffic Congestion: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Walkability: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
St. Patrick’s Day Weather – Total Points: 10
- Forecasted vs. Average Temperature for St. Patrick’s Day: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the difference between the forecasted temperature for March 17 and the average temperature recorded during the holiday.
- Forecasted Precipitations for St. Patrick’s Day: Full Weight (~5.00 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, Council for Community and Economic Research, Google Ads, Eventbrite, Kayak.com, Walk Score, each city’s official page for its “St. Patrick’s Day Parade”, Yelp and AccuWeather.