11 Fun St Patrick's Day Events & Things to Do in Boston - 2021
Where & How to Celebrate Boston's Irish Heritage
Normally, Boston's top St Patrick's Day events include the enormous St. Patrick's Day Parade in South Boston (locally known as "Southie"), rollicking concerts by the Dropkick Murphys' at House of Blues and other venues, non-stop festivities in our famous Irish pubs - and that's only the beginning of fun things to do on this favorite Irish-American holiday.
But this year is different, due to the ongoing (but hopefully diminishing) pandemic. The parade is canceled for the 2nd year in a row, the Dropkick Murphys aren't performing as live music is mostly banned until the end of March, and a couple of other events are virtual - but the good news is that most pubs will be open (although with distancing, masks, and other precautions in place), some new options such as take-home kits are on offer, and some events such as the Boston Harbor cruises on the Northern Lights will take place. And thanks to the vaccine, next year may be almost normal again.
So raise a glass of Guinness while listening to traditional Irish music on a sightseeing cruise around the Harbor.
Or explore Boston's Irish heritage along the Irish Heritage Trail, watch the Celtics play at TD Garden, or stop by Harpoon for some house-made Irish specialties and of course their special brew.
Check out these 11 top ways to celebrate St Patrick's Day in Boston - and you'll quickly see why Boston is considered the most Irish of any American city!
Of course a Boston Celtics game is not just a St. Patrick's Day event - but what better way to show your Celtic spirit than dressing in green and cheering for the home team at a game against the Washington Wizards and NY Knicks atTD Garden?
Tickets are affordable, TD Garden's downtown location is super-easy to reach (just take the T to North Station), and you'll find plenty of Irish pubs/sports bars nearby.
St Patrick's Day is actually an official Boston (and Suffolk County) holiday because it happens to fall on Evacuation Day, which commemorates the ousting of British troops from the city on March 17, 1776 during the Revolutionary War. Public schools and Suffolk Country government offices will be closed, but virtually all businesses and everything else will be open.
2. Sign up for the St Patrick's Day Road Race in Southie
If you're going to South Boston for the big St Patrick's Day Parade, head over to West 6th Street to cheer on the runners of the St Patrick's Day 5K Road Race, where the first lucky 600 runners to register will be wearing the official long-sleeved race shirts designed by the Dropkick Murphys, one of the race's sponsors.
The South Boston Boys and Girls Club sponsors this race, which has been held each year since 1940. Entrants are capped at 1,750 - so early registration is advised.
The race starts and ends at the South Boston Boys and Girls Club at 230 West 6th Street in South Boston, and follows a 5K (3.1 mile) course.
3. Go hear Irish music, see Irish step dancers, and raise a glass of Guinness to celebrate
Please note: Due to the almost-constantly changing Covid restrictions, live music is currently banned until after St Patricks Day - but it's possible that may change. We're leaving the information below for now, but keep in mind music probably will NOT be live, and check the venues' websites for up-to-date information about reservations and other details.
St Patrick's Week at Lansdowne Pub (9 Lansdowne St, across from Fenway Park) - Live music all week, with an all-day show and plenty of Guinness on March 17 starting at 10am. STATUS: Currently hibernating but planning to reopen in March. More info
A Saint Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn with Brian O'Donovan - Boston's famed radio host welcomes top musicians at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge - More info - CANCELED for 2021
The Burren - Traditional Irish music 7 nights each week - plus special Irish sessions, open mics, Irish step-dancing (normally the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month), and appearances by Brian O'Donovan (host of "A Celtic Sojourn) and other Irish music stars. The Burren will host a special St Patrick's Day Dinner show on March 14,15, 16, and 17 featuring Irish specialties, Irish gunes, ballads, stories, and dancing at The Burren, Davis Square, Somerville.Check the Burren's website for details and reservations. STATUS: No live music or special St Pat's events planned - but check out their new back patio!
Ned Devine's in Faneuil Marketplace - Live entertainment all day and food specials such as corned beef and cabbage. Come at 1pm to see Irish Step Dancers. More details at neddevinesboston.com. STATUS: No St Pat's Day events planned - but check out their new indoor Beer Garden!
The Black Rose - Irish musicians perform here (160 State Street, Downtown Boston, behind Faneuil Marketplace) every night of the week, and often on Saturday and Sunday afternoons as well. If you've ever experienced the pleasure of a trad session in Ireland, you'll come close to finding the same thing here, along with plenty of Irish craic. The menu features a few Irish specialties, and of course plenty of Guinness at the bar. You can find the current schedule on the Black Rose's website.STATUS: Reservations & ticket (redeemable for its value in food, beverages, and merch) required for St Patrick's Day this year.
Mr Dooley's Boston Tavern - (77 Broad Street, near Faneuil Marketplace) - Doors open at 9am on March 16th and 17th for a weekend of non-stop live Irish music. Boiled Irish dinner available for the entire month of March. More on Mr Dooley's Facebook page. STATUS: Open with patio seating or indoor - but you can also pick up a kit for a home celebration.
The Harp - Celebrate St Patrick's Day at The Harp with corned beef and cabbage and other Irish food specials plus entertainment all day with Irish Step Dancers, Black Rose Band (12 noon - 4pm) and Never in Vegas (5pm-9pm). Check their Facebook page for more information. STATUS: Currently temporarily closed; no reopening date given.
They do get packed with Guinness fans during evening hours, but most also serve brunch on the weekend. Here are 4 top places to try (some have been closed temporarily over the winter due to the pandemic but are planning to reopen in March -however, check their websites to make sure they're open before you go):
Lansdowne Pub (9 Lansdowne Street across from Fenway Park) - Go for the Irish Scrambler (shown in photo, brunch only), the Irish Breakfast, and house-made Bangers and Mash. Live music on many nights; weekend brunch. website
The Kinsale (2 Center Plaza on Cambridge Street, across from City Hall Plaza) - Built in Ireland and shipped to Boston, the Kinsale replicates a real Irish pub. Try the Asgard Burger made with real Irish cheddar, or the Irish Cod. Live music in the bar; weekend brunch. website
The Black Rose - (160 State Street, Downtown Boston, next to Faneuil Marketplace) - Order the Irish Breakfast (breakfast menu only) with black and white pudding, or the Shepherd's Pie. Irish music every night of the week, and often on Saturday and Sunday afternoons; weekend breakfast. Reservations may be required for St Patricks Day. website
J.J. Foley's Cafe (117 East Berkeley, in Boston's South End) - Family owned and operated since 1909, JJ Foley's offers a nice selection of Irish ale and cider, along with plenty of Guinness. For a taste of Ireland, order the Fish and Chips, and a side of Irish Brown Bread. For a special Irish treat, save room for dessert and order Banoffi Pie. Patio seating is open already! website
5. Try these fun ways to experience Boston's pub culture
6. Stay close to Boston's Irish pubs
If you're planning some serious St Patrick's Day celebrating at one or more of our fine Boston Irish pubs, a reservation at a nearby hotel means you'll have no worries about getting home or finding a non-celebrating designated driver.
Best strategy: Think about where you'll be at Last Call, and make a hotel reservation nearby. For example, if you think you'll end up at one of the Irish pubs near TD Garden, make your reservation for conveniently-located The Boxer (shown above). If you plan to sample the brew in Southie (a.k.a. South Boston) along the parade route, stay at the new Cambria Hotel across from the Broadway T station.
Here are a few suggestions for hotels in several Boston neighborhoods rich with Irish pubs where you might find yourself at the end of the evening:
Hotels convenient to Irish pubs near Faneuil Marketplace / Downtown
7. Sample the brew & Irish food at Harpoon Brewery's St Patrick's Day Festival
Normally, Harpoon Brewery (306 Northern Ave, South Boston Waterfront) would be kicking off their 2021 St Patrick's Day Festival with a 2-day beer festival at their brewery featuring a large selection of Harpoon and UFO beers, handmade brewery pretzels and food for purchase, and non-stop live music from Joshua Tree, Colum Cille Pipes & Drums, Dicey Riley with Dicey Riley and the Celtic Rock Band, and other local bands throughout the weekend.
But, of course, this year isn't normal. The good news is that even though the festival isn't taking place, Harpoon is offering a variety of other great options. You can join them at the Beer Hall for a pint and a traditional house-made Irish meal (different menu every night) almost every day between March 12 and 17 - a step up from the usual Harpoon pretzels. But if you're prefer to celebrate at home, they'll have tasty kits complete with Harpoon swag for you to pick up and if you live nearby in South Boston, they'll even deliver.
In case you're planning ahead for future years, this is what normally happens:
Boston's own Harpoon Brewery, located on the South Boston Waterfront, hosts its annual St Patrick's Day Festival.
Join in the fun during the 2-day fest as local bands provide non-stop music while you sample the selection of Harpoon and UFO beers, and munch on homemade Harpoon pretzels. Designated Drivers get free non-alcoholic drinks.
A free shuttle from South Station makes getting there and back easy.
8. Explore the Irish Heritage Trail
Boston is the most Irish of all American cities, with almost a quarter of all Boston residents claiming at least some Irish ancestry in the 2000 U.S. Census.
Boston's Irish Heritage Trail celebrates the contributions of the Irish immigrants and their descendants to the city and the nation over the course of 3+ centuries.
The Trail starts at the beautiful Rose Kennedy Rose Garden in the North End, stretches across more than 3 miles of Downtown Boston and Back Bay, and ends at Fenway Park.
Walking along the self-guided Irish Heritage Trail is a popular St Patrick's Day activity. If you decide to do this too, you'll visit statues, monuments, and buildings ranging from multiple statues of Irish politician James Michael Curley to the moving Boston Irish Famine Memorial to the Massachusetts State House.
The Irish Heritage Trail also takes you past many of Boston's other famous sites and attractions, so it doubles as a way to tour a large swath of the city. More about the Irish Heritage Trail
9. Immerse yourself in culture at the Irish Film Festival - Virtual for 2021
Boston's Irish Film Festival takes place over a period of 4 days around St Patrick's Day each March.
The festival's 30 or so films showcase the very best of contemporary Irish cinema and focus on Ireland and Irish culture, and what it means to be Irish in the 21st century. These are typically productions you're unlikely to see elsewhere in the U.S.
11. Rock on at the Dropkick Murphys concert at House of Blues - NOT HAPPENING in March, 2021
Boston's most famous Celtic punk rock group, the Dropkick Murphys, spends most of their time touring since becoming so popular, but they always return home to Boston to perform concerts St Patrick's Day at House of Blues, near Fenway Park. This year, they've also added performances at Encore Boston Harbor and Big Night Live.
Needless to say, the Dropkick Murphys' rollicking performances sell out quickly, but if you're a fan, you'll want to catch one of these concerts - so get your tickets now!
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