There may be no more quintessentially Boston experience than St. Patrick's Day. With Boston's rich Irish-American history (and, admittedly, our abundance of Irish pubs), the holiday is a great excuse to let loose and celebrate all things green.
March 17 also conveniently is a city government holiday for Evacuation Day. Never heard of Evacuation Day? I hadn't either, until I moved to Boston. (It commemorates the day British troops evacuated from Boston in 1776.) Only Suffolk County public offices and schools are closed for the occasion (but, for them, all the more reason to celebrate).
If you're in downtown Boston, you won't have to look too far to find a St. Patrick's Day party. Here are five picks for Boston St. Patrick's Day events to check out in 2014 – whether you're Irish or not!
St. Patrick's Day Pub Crawl
On St. Patrick's Day itself, just follow the crowds to your Irish pub of choice – those in greater Boston will be open early (and closing late) for the occasion. If you want to get started early, though, the Sixth Annual Irish Pub Challenge bar crawl is scheduled for March 8. Join (or form) a team, dress in green (the more flair, the better), and try eight Irish pubs throughout the day (out of more than 30 participating in the crawl). Tickets cost $27 per person in advance or $35 per person day-of, and include entry to the participating bars, discounted drinks, a T-shirt, and a koozie, among other souvenirs. Attendees can also enter to win a free trip to Ireland from Tenon Tours.
Dropkick Murphys at House of Blues
Quincy's own Dropkick Murphys, an American-Irish punk band (and Red Sox favorite) are set to play six shows at the House of Blues March 13 through 16. Tickets are going fast—at press time, five out of the six shows were already sold out (although you may have luck—pun fully intended—searching StubHub, Ace Ticket, or another ticket agency, if you're willing to pay more than face value).
Southie St. Patrick's Day Parade
As I wrote in my Boston March events story, the annual Boston tradition with Irish dancing, bagpipes, community floats, and (of course) green beer takes place this year on March 16 in Southie. The parade gets started at 1 p.m., but expect the revelers to be out much earlier – and for the celebration to continue long after the parade has wrapped up.
St. Patrick's Day at Franklin Park and Stone zoos
Don't want to deal with the crowds in Southie? Take the kids to the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston or Stone Zoo in Stoneham on March 16 for a different type of wild St. Patrick's Day party. From food to toys, the zoo animals will have all green for the holiday. At Franklin Park, stop by at 10 a.m. to see gorilla-focused demonstrations, 11 a.m. for anteaters, and 11:30 a.m. for hippos.
Special Irish Restaurant Menus
Corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, fish and chips … you may be craving traditional Irish fare this St. Patrick's Day. The Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau has put together a listing of restaurants serving Irish specialties for the holiday. And, holiday or not, you often can find Irish menus any day of the week, any month of the year at one of the city's Irish pubs (just know that you'll have to wait a little longer for a table on St. Patrick's Day itself).What's your favorite way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Boston? Send me an email with your recommendations!