Dublin puts on the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade, with half a million people attending the last event in 2019 (the 2020 parade was canceled due to the pandemic and 2021’s parade has gone virtual), but there are hundreds of parades across Ireland and Northern Ireland. In Belfast, the revelry resembles Dublin—a green-clad international crowd and drunken shenanigans. Locals not looking for a big party might skip the city parades and head to more low-key celebrations in nearby towns and villages. Downpatrick, where St. Patrick is said to be buried, and Armagh, where it’s believed St. Patrick built his first stone church, are two Northern Ireland towns where festivities are closely tied to the patron saint.
You might not know: Ireland’s first St. Patrick’s Day parade wasn’t held until 1903, 302 years after the world’s first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. But it’s said that the tradition of parading on St. Patrick’s Day didn’t really begin until 1762, when a group of Irish soldiers serving in the British army marched through the streets of New York.