We might still be locked in the chokehold of winter, but that won’t stop New Yorkers from painting themselves in green and bravely navigating through bone-chilling wind temperatures to make it to their favorite bar on Saint Patrick’s Day. Taking place on March 17, the religious celebration (also known as the Feast of Saint Patrick) traditionally commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, in addition to celebrating the cultural heritage of the Irish.
In New York City, you can expect festivities to be grand. While there will certainly be parades and parties, the city also offers a plethora of more quirky, off-the-beaten track activities, ranging from special drink offerings to glass blowing classes. See below for a lineup of upcoming events:
1. Grab a Free Book on St. Patrick’s Day
What’s better than receiving things for free? In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, The Irish Arts Center, in association with the New York City Council, the New York State Assembly, Literature Ireland, and El Museo del Barrio, will be distributing free books to New Yorkers across all five boroughs.
The tradition has been taking place since 2011, and bookworms can receive their free copies of literature by Irish, Caribbean and American authors by heading to one of a dozen Book Day pop-up stands. Visit irishartscenter.org to look up locations and times. The event will begin at 9am and run until all the books are given out.
2. Hard Hat Tour of the Abandoned Hospital at Ellis Island
Learn about the history of immigration with our hard hat tour of the abandoned hospital at Ellis Island. Once the standard for United States medical care (and later transformed to the FBI headquarters when the island served as a detention center), the complex has been left to decay for nearly 60 years. Now, we’re bringing guests behind-the-scenes for a unique exploration of the abandoned facility; on this experience, you’ll visit the contagious disease wards, the autopsy rooms and have exclusive access to places usually closed to the public.
While Ellis Island has become one of New York City’s top tourist attractions, drawing over two million visitors per year, the 22-building South Side hospital complex is hidden in plain sight, just to the left of disembarking passengers headed towards the Great Hall. Looking at its desolate, skeletal frame now, it’s difficult to imagine its backstory as one of the largest public health undertakings in American history.
3. Join a St. Patrick’s Day Mug Making Class
Photo via Wikimedia: Iryna Fedorovska
Nothing screams dedication more than bringing your very own mug to all your planned St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Gowanus‘ Brooklyn Glass will be hosting a glass blowing workshop, where you’ll work alongside instructors to create your very own emerald green vessel for your favorite alcoholic beverages.
Students will work directly with the 2100 degree molten glass, shaping it and forming it during this hands-on experience. Best yet: no experience is necessary to join. The event takes place on Saturday, March 17 at 11am. Purchase your tickets here, and also check out the other creative classes offered by Brooklyn Glass, including neonmaking and flameworking.
4. St. Patrick’s Day Drink and Food Offerings
Image courtesy Lillie’s Victorian Establishment (Union Square)
Camping out at a bar is a pretty safe way to ensure you’ll have a good time on St. Patricks Day. But with so many options to choose from, it may be difficult to narrow down your options. Celtic Developers Group, however, is providing special offerings at a number of New York City establishments. Kick back a pint of Guinness and enjoy some Irish fare at Papillon Bistro & Bar, located on 22 East 54th Street in Midtown — conveniently located two blocks away from the St. Patrick’s Day parade — Lillie’s Victorian Establishment on 249 West 49th Street in Times Square and 13 East 17th Street in Union Square, and Oscar Wilde, on 45 West 27th Street in NoMad.
What’s on the menu? Papillon Bistro & Bar will offer seven Irish entrées, including Shepherd’s Pie, Corned Beef Sliders and more; if the crowd get too big, it will also set up an intimate tasting room, where an exclusive selection of Irish Whiskeys will be offered. At Oscar Wilde, New York City’s longest bar, which also serves as a nod to the Irish playwright, find over 300 whiskeys and 32 beers on tap, alongside signature dishes like Irish Lamb Stew and Corned Beef and Cabbage. Lillie’s Victorian Establishment will also be offering similar eats, as well as $15 Guinness and a shot of Jameson. Of course, this is just a tiny sampling of all the deals that will be available.
5. St. Patrick’s Day Whiskey Tour
If drinking is your preferred way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, make sure to head to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for its Whiskey Wars Factory Tour, taking place on March 17 at 4:30pm. Named in honor of the 19th century crackdown on illegal whiskey distilling, in which Marines were dispatched from the Navy Yard, the event will include a tour and tasting with BLDG 92 and Kings County Distillery.
During this unique event, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about whiskey scandals and the resurgence of the industry today. Tours last approximately 90 minutes, and tickets can be purchased here. Also, learn more about the history of the Brooklyn Navy Navy by uncovering its many unknown secrets.
6. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Sober
Not like the guy above. Photo by Michelle Young/Untapped Cities
If drinking is not your preferred way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, The New York Irish Center offers an alternative (just as fun) activity. Head there for an evening of dancing and music, featuring the Donny Golden School of Irish Dance, singer Donie Carroll, champion accordionist John Whelan, champion fiddle player, Brian Conway, among others.
While there won’t be any booze, a selection of snacks, baked drinks and nonalcoholic drinks will be offered. The event is organized by Sober St. Patrick’s Day, whose mission is “to reclaim the true spirit of the day and to change the perception and experience of what St. Patrick’s Day can be by providing family-friendly, alcohol free events that celebrate the depth of Irish culture…”
7. St. Patrick’s Day at the Merchant’s House Museum
The Merchant’s House will be hosting two St. Patrick’s Day events: a ‘Spirit of the Irish’ Candlelight Ghost Tour, which takes place tonight at 6:30pm and 7pm, as well as St. Patrick’s Day: A Tribute to the Tredwells’ Irish Servants with Bridget Murphy, at 12:30pm, 2pm and 3:30pm on March 17.
On the Spirit of the Irish tour, guests will “venture” into history to learn about the house and the inexplicable events that have happened there. This unique opportunity includes a visit to the 4th floor Servants’ Quarters, as strange occurrences have been related to the Tredwell family’s Irish servants. The Tribute to the Tredwells’ Irish Servants is another tour that allows guests to experience the Merchant’s House through the eyes of the Irish immigrants that worked there. For more information, and to book the events, visit merchantshouse.org.
8. The Amazing New York Scavenger Hunt: St. Patrick’s Day Edition
Image courtesy Pogo Events
The Amazing New York Scavenger Hunt takes place at 1:30pm on March 17! Challenge yourself this year by carrying out physical and mental challenges while running around the city. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, this iteration of the scavenger hunt will include bar challenges and other fun stops (which means you’ll have to be 21+ to attend).
The event begins at Tempest Bar (407 8th Avenue). Participants must bring a Metrocard, and should wear comfortable shows. Every team should also carry a smart phone on them, as the three-hour hunt is hosted on an app called ScanQuest. Members of the wining team will all receive a special New York City gift packages.
9. Head to a Potluck Brunch Film Series
Filmmaking collective Filmshop organizes a quarterly brunch screening series to present work from its members of video producers and independent filmmakers. From 12:30pm to 4pm on March 17, it will host a thematically curated showcase at Videology Bar & Cinema, where you can watch original screenings of short works and feast on “brunch bites” in celebration of St. Patty’s Day. All guests are invited to contribute to the potluck. For more information, visit videologybarandcinema.com.
10. Run a St. Patrick’s Day 5K
If you want to kickstart your metabolism to burn off the liquid calories you’ll likely ingest later, sign up for Staten Island Athletic Club 5K on March 24. Following the dash, SIAC will be hosting an Irish Feast at PepperJack Grill — a much deserved meal after a long run. Online registration for the event closes on Friday, March 23 at 5pm.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the American Irish Historical Society.