There are some strong contenders when it comes to the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the USA.
When it comes to the top-spot, NYC, with an estimated 2,000,000 in attendance is not only the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the USA – it’s the biggest in the world!
However, America is far from a one-horse-town when it comes to parades, with many cities recording well over 500,000 people in attendance.
And, although it’s the likes of the parades in Boston and Chicago that tend to grab a lot of the attention, some of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the USA might surprise you!
The biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the USA
Attending a celebration is one of the more popular St. Patrick’s Day traditions and you’ll find the biggest in the USA below.
1. New York City (2,000,000)
There’s a strong Irish-American heritage in New York City and the Irish community has been celebrating with an annual parade over the last 260 years.
Led by a specially appointed Grand Marshall, the parade kicks off at 11am and it heads up Fifth Avenue from East 44th to East 79th Street.
It includes Irish societies, pipes and drums bands, the mayor and city councillors, Police and Fire Departments and the 69th New York Infantry Regiment.
This mega parade has an estimated 250,000 participants and 2 million spectators all wearing green!
Key info for 2024: The NYC Parade takes place on Saturday, March 16th from 11AM. It begins on 5th Avenue at 44th Street and ends on 5th Avenue at 79th Street.
2. Chicago (800,000 – 1,000,000)
The second biggest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the USA takes place in Chicago, Illinois, and it’s said to attract a whopping 800,000 – 1,000,000 excited spectators and participants.
It’s one of the longer-running St. Patrick’s Day parades in the US, with the first event taking place in 1858.
On that occasion, hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets to observe the floats as they paraded through Chicago.
Fast forward 100+ years and the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade begins with the dyeing of the river on Saturday March 16th, 2024.
Key info for 2024: The Chicago Parade takes place on Saturday, March 16th from 12:15pm
3. Boston (600,000 – 800,000)
Another of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the USA takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, where there is a strong Irish-American community.
Their heritage shines bright every March 17th with a bumper parade that is running on Sunday, March 17th and is set to attract over 1/2 million spectators.
Crowds dressed in green line the parade route around the Broadway T station in South Boston. The parade also celebrates Evacuation Day which marks the the ousting of British troops from the city on March 17, 1776 .
The parade honours many veterans and military service groups and includes bagpipes, marching brass bands, colourful floats, dancers, historic Minutemen, politicians, societies and local organizations.
Key info for 2024: The Boston Parade takes place on March 17th and runs from Broadway Station to Andrew Station
4. Philadelphia (500,000)
Another of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States is the celebration in Philadelphia – it’s also America’s second oldest parade!
Held on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, the Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade was first celebrated in 1771, marking over 250 years of celebrations.
Hosted by the S.t Patrick’s Day Observance Association, the parade attracts over 20,000 participants in marching bands, dance groups, youth organizations, Irish societies and local groups.
The parade usually has a theme and flag-waving spectators are bedecked in their greenest finery.
Key info for 2024: The Philadelphia Parade takes place a week early on Sunday, March 10th, from 11:00 at 16th and JFK
5. Cleveland (450,000 – 500,000)
Another of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the USA is the Cleveland Parade, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.
The earliest record of a parade in the city was in 1842 and it included a banquet and a celebratory mass with St. Patrick’s Day prayers to mark the event.
Fast forward to 2024 and the Cleveland Parade attracts close to 500,000 spectators each year. The theme of this year is ‘Ireland: One Island One Nation’.
Visitors can expect everything from music and floats to dancing, bands, balloons and plenty more!
Key info for 2024: The Cleveland Parade starts around 14:00 on Superior Ave. at E. 18th St
6. Kansas City (400,000)
One of the best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the USA that tends to fly under the radar a little is the Kansas City Parade, which has been on-the-go since 1974.
Attracting an impressive 400,000 spectators each year, the theme of the 2024 parade is ’50 Cheers to 50 Years’.
As is the case with every parade, you’ll find Irish dancing, plenty of colourful floats and crowds decked out in green.
If parades aren’t your thing, many of the pubs in the city will have live entertainment to mark the big day.
Key info for 2024: The Kansas City Parade starts at 11:00 on March 17th from Linwood and Broadway
7. Holyoke (300,000 – 400,000)
The Holyoke Parade had its inaugural celebration in 1952 to mark the areas rich Irish heritage. The parade is traditionally coupled with a 10k road race which takes place the day before the big event.
Despite the fact that Holyoke only has a population of around 45,000, its parade welcomes around 400,000 spectators each year.
Visitors can expect championship bands, award-winning floats, live entertainment and the awarding of the ‘Grand Colleen’.
Key info for 2024: The St. Patrick’s Day 10k race takes place on the 16th with the parade running on the 17th
8. Pittsburgh (300,000 – 350,000)
Another of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the USA is the Pittsburgh Parade which attractions in the region of 350,000 people each year.
It’s thought that a staggering 1/5th of the population of Pittsburgh has an Irish connection, so it’s no surprise that there has been a St. Patrick’s Day parade here for over 150 years!
The Pittsburgh Parade kicks off with mass at at Old St. Patrick’s on Liberty Av. The parade showcase the best of Irish step dancing, marching bands and plenty of floats.
There’s also the awarding of the title of ‘Miss Smiling Irish Eyes’. The parade runs during ran, hail and even blizzards!
Key info for 2024: The parade takes place from 10:00 on March 16th
9. The Quad Cities (200,000)
Iowa is home to one of the best St. Patrick’s Day parades in the USA. It’s also America’s only bi-state parade.
Starting in Rock Island, the parade kicks off from the corner of 4th Av. and 23rd street before passing through downtown Rock Island and then crossing the Centennial Bridge.
Dancers, musicians, bands and floats will then proceed into downtown Davenport before finishing up with a post-parade party at the RiverCenter.
Each year, around 200,000 people attend the parade, with many lining the streets, especially when it reaches Davenport.
Key info for 2024: The parade runs on March 16th and starts at 10:00 in Rock Island
FAQs about the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the USA
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Which parade is longest running?’ to ‘Which is the most impressive?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below. Here are some related reads you should find interesting:
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- How To Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day In Irish
- 5 St. Patrick’s Day Prayers And Blessings For 2023
- 17 Surprising Fact’s About St. Patrick’ Day
- 33 Interesting Facts About Ireland
Where are the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the US?
The New York City parade (150,000 participants and 2 million spectators) and the Chicago parade (est. 2 million spectators) are two of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the US.
What is the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the US?
No running for over 260 years, the NYC parade is the oldest parade in both the US and the world.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.