St Patrick's Day isn't a bank holiday here in London, but you'd think it was given the amount of partying that takes place. 17 March is the day that everyone remembers they've got a tiny bit of Irish blood flowing through their veins, dons an oversized hat and green outfit and declares a short-lived love for Guinness. Here are the best St Patrick's Day 2019 events in London:
London's St Patrick's Day Parade and Festival 2019
Happily, St Patrick's Day 2019 falls on a Sunday this year, which is when the St Patrick's Day Parade takes place. It's the heart of London' St Patrick's Day celebrations, with floats and processions making their way from Hyde Park Corner, down Piccadilly and Haymarket and through to Trafalgar Square on a 1.5 mile route. As you'd expect, many Irish dancing schools and community groups show off their skills, but equally as prominent are marching bands and sports clubs from the rest of the UK, and America.
Trafalgar Square is then the focal point for the afternoon's entertainment, with a full line-up of Irish singers, dancers, musicians and other performers on the stage. Irish food and drink stalls form a street food market, and family-friendly activities including arts and crafts take place. The festival culminates in the Big St. Patrick’s Céilí getting everyone on their feet for some jigs and reels.
Although the above events are the highlights, the official St Patrick's Day Festival — organised by the Mayor's office — takes place across three days, 15-17 March. Guided walks, an Irish Film Festival, open air Irish dance performances, music classes and more stretch across all 33 London boroughs — see the website for further details about what's happening when near you.
St Patrick's Day Parade and Festival 2019, free. 17 March, 12pm.
Ruckus at Vault Festival
Vault Festival pulls out all the stops for its final weekend. Ruckus is an immersive theatrical production, where audience members wander among walkabout entertainment, live music and DJs, all celebrating St Patrick's Day. Think Peaky Blinders themed, and dress accordingly — and look our for mob bosses.
Ruckus at Vault Festival, £15, booking required. 16 March, 10.30pm.
St Patrick's Day party at Boisdale of Canary Wharf
Fancy Canary Wharf hangout Boisdale might be Scottish, but that's not stopping it getting in on the St Patrick's Day action.
The party begins on 16 March, when Six Nations is screened, cold Guinness is available on tap, and the food menu takes an Irish twist. Tuck into two courses for £29.50 — options include pickled Galway herrings, boiled potatoes and beetroot, or Irish potato and leek soup.
Once the rugby's over, the party continues into the evening. Irish music duo Acoustica perform on the terrace, mixing traditional Irish tunes with more contemporary songs from the likes of The Waterboys and Van Morrison.
St Patrick's Day at Boisdale of Canary Wharf, free entry/£29.50 for two courses, booking required. 16 March, from 3pm.
St Patrick's Day Irish whiskey masterclasses
If the golden nectar of whiskey is more your thing than the black thickness of Guinness, there's a place for you in London's St Patrick's Day celebrations. Two, in fact.
WHISKEY MASTERCLASS: The mixologists at 68 and Boston in Soho have put together a whiskey masterclass around Teeling Irish Whiskey. Over the course of an hour, taste three different varieties of the whiskey, soaked up with Irish canapés, under the guidance of those expert mixologists. £10, book ahead, 15-16 March
St Patrick's Day comedy show
Top Irish comedians take to the stage in Comedy Carnival's St Patrick's Day special. Held at Bar Rumba near Leicester Square, Jarlath Regan and Patrick Monaham headline, with a guest comedian to be announced and Matthew McAloone as MC.
Comedy Carnival's St Patrick's Day Show, £16.50-£24, booking required. 17 March.
Midnight Apothecary St Patrick's Day special
For a unique St Patrick's Day drinking event, head to Rotherhithe's Midnight Apothecary bar. Perched in a secret garden on top of Brunel's Thames Tunnel, the intimate bar is usually only open on selected summer dates — but it makes an exception for St Patrick's Day.
Irish whiskey hot toddies take pride of place on the special menu, although the bar's usual botanical cocktails are also available, and music comes courtesy of Irish jazz and blues band, Nathan Osgood Trio. Huddle around the campfire, and join in with the lyrics which are projected on the wall.
Midnight Apothecary St Patrick's special, from £12, booking required. 16 March.
Little Nan's St Patrick's Day party
Deptford's retro bar Little Nan's throws a Paddy's Day bottomless boozy brunch pop party (try saying that after a couple of pints of Guinness...)
The daytime bash serves up retro food including fish finger sarnies, cocktail sausages, Wagon Wheels, and of course, Taytos. Drinks take on an Irish theme, with the Queen Samantha Mumba Teapot Cocktail and Boyzone vs Westlife Teapot Cocktail both on the menu.
The whole thing is soundtracked by Irish pop music from the 1980s-2000s, so expect to hear plenty of B*Witched, as well as the acts mentioned in those cocktails. Fancy dress is encouraged, with a £200 bar tab for the winning costume.
Little Nan's bottomless boozy brunch pop party, from £40, booking required. 17 March, 12pm-3pm
St Patrick's Day gigs in London
CEILI BAND: The Ceili Band, a group of five traditional musicians, perform familiar Irish tunes at this Soho cocktail bar, with special offers on St Paddy's themed cocktails. Archer Street (Soho), 17 March from 4pm
POGUE TRADERS: You'll never guess which Irish band tribute act Pogue Traders impersonates? Their catalogue of Pogues covers are all faithful to the original band's studio arrangements, and they're performing a fair few of them at this gig. We wouldn't be surprised if this one gets a bit rowdy. The Half Moon (Putney), £12/£14, book ahead, 17 March 8pm
Irish pubs and bars in London
If you're just looking for somewhere to kick back with a pint of Guinness, hit up one of London's best Irish pubs. Don't go in expecting a quiet pint this weekend though — all of London's pubs, bars and venues with links to the Emerald Isle will likely be rammed over St Paddy's Day. It makes for a lively atmosphere though.