Millions of spectators will line Fifth Avenue this Saturday, March 16th as New York City hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade, which travels from East 44th Street to East 79th Street, started in 1762 and is the oldest and largest parade of its kind in the world! The parade is an iconic annual tradition in New York City, but, if you’re looking for festivities that are off the beaten path, we have some suggestions. From sober celebrations to eye-opening tours, check out our alternative ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in NYC!

1. Drink a Pint at NYC’s Oldest Irish Pubs

McSorley's Old Ale House, a fun bar to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in NYC at

New York City has no shortage of Irish pubs both new and old where you can toast to St. Patrick’s Day. The oldest Irish pub you can visit is McSorley’s Old Alde House in the East Village. Order up some corned beef and wash it down with light or dark ale. Founded around 1854, the pub is covered in photographs, news clippings, and other collectibles, much of it hanging on the walls since 1910.

The Ear Inn is another historic bar option. Originally the James Brown House built in 1817, it was turned into a bar for sailors by Irishman Thomas Cloke. Molly’s Pub and Restaurant Sheeben calls itself “the most traditional Irish bar in New York.” Founded in 1895, the establishment cycled through multiple iterations as a bar, grocery, and rooming house under a variety of names over the years before becoming Molly’s in the 1960s when it was purchased by the Purfield family from Dublin and Galway. Other Irish bars with a dash of history include The Landmark Tavern in Hell’s Kitchen, The Dead Rabbit in Lower Manhattan, and Peter McManus Cafe in Chelsea. There are also many authentic Irish pubs in New York’s Little Ireland section of Woodlawn in the Bronx.

2. Grab a Free Book on Book Day

People grab books off a table at the annual St. Patrick's Day in NYC book day
Photo by Vitaliy Piltser

The Irish Arts Center celebrates St. Patrick’s Day by giving out thousands of free books! Presented in association with The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, New York, Culture Ireland, the Adrian Brinkerhoff Foundation, and the American Irish Teachers Association, this year’s 12th Annual Book Day will celebrate voices from the Irish and Irish American literary heritages. Books will be handed out at multiple locations across all five boroughs. You can check the exact distribution locations here! Hundreds of different books will be available. The Center will also host its annual Open Day on March 16th with traditional music and dance performances, workshops and demos, children’s crafts and activities, and more!

3. Visit Gilded Age Mansions Along Fifth Avenue

Irish historical society

The St. Patrick’s Day parade will march past stunning Gilded Age homes along Fifth Avenue on Saturday, but this Friday and Sunday, before the streets shut down and after they open once again, you can uncover the stories of these mansions and those that have been lost to time on Untapped New York’s Mansions of Fifth Avenue Walking Tour. One of the stops along Manhattan’s Millioanire’s Row will be the former home of the Irish Historical Society, a historic former mansion at 991 Fifth Avenue. You’ll even get to step inside a mansion designed by the illustrious architect Stanford White!

Mansions of Fifth Avenue Tour

Ukrainian Institute

4. Watch the Times Square Ball Drop

New Year's Eve Ball

Jameson Whiskey has created a new holiday this year, St. Patrick’s Day Eve. Since the holiday falls on a Sunday instead of a Saturday due to the Leap Year, the Irish whiskey brand is starting celebrations early with a special “rock drop.” At 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 16 (an Irish midnight, aka midnight in Ireland) the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball will drop from the top of the spire at One Times Square like it usually does to ring in the new year. You can register for free, here, to attend the celebration in Times Square Plaza where there will be entertainment and giveaways.

5. St. Patrick’s Day Whisky Tasting at Fort Hamilton Distillery

Fort Hamilton Distillery

On Sunday, March 17, spirits writer Ted Simmons will lead a tasting of personally curated Irish and American whiskies at the Fort Hamilton Distillery in Industry City. The tasting will focus on Irish and rye whiskey, looking at their points of differentiation and areas of overlap while featuring such brands as Waterford, Keeper’s Heart, Powers, Fort Hamilton, and more. All tickets come with a welcome cocktail specially created by the team at Fort Hamilton. After a brief reception, Ted will guide guests through the tasting, lending knowledge and insights gained through his years as a whiskey editor and taster. Some surprise pours will be featured, too. All levels of experience are welcome. Sláinte!

You can show off your new whiskey knowledge and enjoy more Fort Hamilton liquors at the next Lit Salon on March 19th!

Lit Salon: Double Click

Can’t join in person? Get a virtual ticket here!

Double Click book on a mantel with candles

6. Experience St. Patrick’s Day at The Edge

The Edge, one of the best NYC observation decks

Elevate your St. Patrick’s Day experience at The Edge at Hudson Yards, the tallest outdoor observation deck in the Western Hemisphere! On March 17th from 12 pm to 10 pm, visitors to the Edge can enjoy traditional Irish stouts, whiskey, bites, and live performances. No additional ticket is required. Book your tickets here!

7. Explore Little Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day

Little Ireland sign, a fun place to spend St. Patrick's Day in NYC

No need to hop on an international flight to experience a bit of Ireland, just hop on the subway. At the border of Westchester County and the Bronx, you’ll find New York City’s Little Ireland, the perfect spot to spend St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. All along “The Emerald Mile” you’ll find Irish pubs, gift shops, restaurants, and cultural centers.

A few fun stops include the Irish Coffee Shop, known for its Irish breakfast with black and white pudding and Irish bacon, and Rory Dolan’s, one of the largest restaurants on McLean Avenue, serving up comfort foods like Dublin-style fish and chips. Take home a piece of Ireland from Mary Ann’s Irish gift shop, a store that has been importing handicrafts from Ireland for over 30 years.

8. Celebrate Sober St. Patrick’s Day

If pints of Guinness, green beer, and glasses of whiskey aren’t part of your St. Patrick’s Day in NYC celebrations, join other sober revelers at the 13th Annual Sober St Patrick’s Day Celebration! The event will run all day on Saturday, March 16th from 4:30 pm to 7 pm at the Church of the Epiphany, Church of the Epiphany. The festivities will include a free parade followed by a ticketed post-parade celebration featuring performances of Irish dance and song. There will be non-alcoholic refreshments and fun for the whole family. Ticket prices vary and you can register here!

9. Drink a Pot of Gold and Eat Green Treats

Photo Courtesy of Jackdaw

Many of the city’s Irish pubs will serve up green beers and special cocktails this St. Patrick’s Day! You can also find a variety of green-colored and clover filled treats from local restaurants and stores. At the Irish-owned and operated, Jackdaw NYC in the East Village, sip on a “Crock of Gold” cocktail while listening to County Cork’s Pipes and Drums, a traditional performance of bagpipes and drums. A Taste of Economy Candy at Chelsea Market will serve up a limited-edition milkshake in collaboration Creamline that is made of with Junior Mints, Green Whipped Cream, and chocolate coins. Over at Serendipity3, you can dig into a Leprechaun’s Luck Sundae with mint chocolate chip ice cream and overflowing toppings of candy rainbows, hot fudge, whipped cream, sugar shamrocks, and Lucky Charms cereal.

10. Learn About Irish Immigrants at the Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum will host a virtual talk on March 21st with award-winning author Tyler Anbinder about his new release, Plentiful Country: The Great Potato Famine and the Making of Irish New York. Nearly one-third of all adults in Manhattan were Irish immigrants by 1855. in his book, Anbinder uses newly available records to highlight the individual and communal stories of the “Famine Irish,” bringing new perspectives to our understanding of this migration.

Next, check out Guide to NYC’s Little Ireland