If you’re booking accommodation in Paddington London this March, you might end up colliding your visit with one of the liveliest (and greenest) celebrations to grace the UK!
Intrigued? Then read on to get the craic on the ultimate guide to St. Patrick’s Day in London.
What is St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick is the foremost patron saint of Ireland. Since the death of the Christian missionary, his life and deeds have been celebrated annually on 17 March, with the Feast of St Patrick.
Celebrations typically consist of gorging on delicious Irish food and slurping on Guinness, whilst dancing along with the romantic jigs and reels of traditional Irish folk music. With a huge Irish population based in London, it’s no surprise that this fun holiday is observed and widely celebrated across the English capital.
You can expect to see swathes of green along with images of shamrocks and leprechauns, wherever you are in London – and there are a number of special events taking place to mark the occasion.
Although St Patrick’s Day is declared a public holiday in Ireland, it is not the same in the rest of the UK countries. Although there are usually happenings on the day of the 17th, most of the celebratory events and activities spill over into the nearest weekend. This year, London will be honouring St Patrick the weekend of 14/ 15 March 2020. Snap up a deal at the Park Grand Paddington Hotel and don’t miss out on this wonderful experience!
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade is an extremely jolly affair that brings together marching bands, lavishly decorated floats and pageantry from Irish communities all across the UK. Revellers from Irish dancing schools come out to show off their moves whilst Irish music wafts through the air. Trust us, you’ll want to join in.
The first procession will set off at noon from Piccadilly on Sunday 15 March and gradually make its way along a scenic 1.5-mile route. Several of London’s most iconic landmarks will be passed along the trail, including Hyde Park Corner, The Ritz, Piccadilly Circus and Whitehall. The parade culminates at Trafalgar Square for a huge party that all are welcome to attend. A very family-friendly affair, the parade is free to attend – simply show up and enjoy the spectacle.
The St Patrick’s Day Festival
The annual festival will take place in Trafalgar Square to coincide with the parade, on Sunday 15 March 2020 between 12 noon and 6pm. As with the parade, it is free to attend the festival and there is no need to book in advance. This is the largest celebration of Irish culture and community in London and every year it gets bigger, grander and greener!
At the festival you can watch St Patrick’s Day performances by well-known Irish acts, rising stars and special guests. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan usually attends and delivers a speech auth the festival, so watch this space for the 2020 event and to see details of the line-up of performers.
The great square will also be a hub of craft stalls and market vendors whipping up and serving traditional and modern Irish food along with drinks.
Families can check out the special family zone which is usually located on Pall Mall East. There you will be able to find an array of child-friendly entertainment, workshops and activities.
A guide to Irish food
During and in the days surrounding St. Patrick’s day, you will come across menus at restaurants near Paddington station and the wider central London area adding an Irish twist to their dishes. Some of the Irish food that you will typically be able to sample around St. Patrick’s Day at restaurants or at the St. Patrick’s Day Festival might include:
- Corned beef (salt-cured beef) with a side of cabbage and other vegetables
- Irish soda bread – scrumptious bread which replaces traditional yeast with sodium bicarbonate and often is peppered with raisins and citrus zest
- Shepherd’s pie – minced beef or lamb baked in the oven with creamy mashed potatoes
- Comforting Irish stews of tender meat (usually lamb) paired with vegetables
- Colcannon – a typical Irish side of cabbage with mashed potatoes, served alongside meat
You can also expect to find bakes and sweet treats in bakeries around London. These will usually be championing the iconic green shades that we associate St. Patrick with! Look out for shamrock shaped biscuits and cupcakes, layered cakes with green icing sugar, Irish tea cakes and barmbrack (an Irish dessert bread).
Wash it all down with an Irish Coffee; an appetising brew of hot coffee and Irish whiskey topped with freshly whipped cream. Or, try Irish cream dessert shots which are a blend of Bailey’s Irish cream, brownies and cream. Delicious!
Nightlife in London on St. Patrick’s Day
Over the weekend preceding St. Patrick’s Day and on the evening of the day itself, London runs amok with revellers kitted out in green clothing, glow sticks and often face paint. A number of pubs and restaurants offer special deals on Irish brands – namely, Guinness and whiskey, and there will be live music events cropping up around the city.
If you’re looking to make big night of it, check out the St. Patrick’s Weekender and St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawls which are some of the organised pub events that take place to coincide with the holiday. Kicking off this year on Friday 13 March, the pub crawls also run on Saturday 14 March and Tuesday 14 March. They take place at various locations in the city centre, and hotels near Paddington station London put you in a prime position to join the party.
Tickets cost £10-£15 per person, and with the ticket you will receive a free St Patrick’s Day hat and receive special drinks deals all night as you venture around the pubs and bars of central London. Specifically, free shots and reductions on pints of Guinness. Be ready to paint the town green!