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Never has a day supposedly devoted to a saint prompted more, well, unsaintly behaviour.

Celebrating the patron saint of Ireland is a perfectly valid excuse for drinking disgraceful amounts of Guinness, whiskey, Bailey’s and any other drink with the faintest link to the Emerald Isle. 

But of course there’s more to it than just getting wrecked.

Whether you are Irish, have tenuous connections to the country or are just faking it for the weekend, you’ll enjoy the shows and parades that are being put on in honour of March 17, celebrating the best of the music, dance and comedy that Irish culture has to offer. 

Can’t afford a trip across to the mother country?

There are plenty of other shindigs going on around the UK to satiate the most hardened addict’s craic cravings. Here are three of our faves.

Manchester 

The craic: As everyone knows, Mancunians will take any excuse to hit the pub, so naturally their St Patrick’s Day festivities are huge.

But it’s not just about the Guinness-glugging this year, as the Manchester Irish Festival is a 10-day cultural blow-out, which is expected to draw 200,000 people.

With over 200 events planned, showcasing comedy, literature, music, sport and theatre, this will be Europe’s biggest Irish event outside the country itself.

Albert Square will be home to an all-Irish market, selling regional grub, Celtic crafts and, unsurprisingly, plenty of pints of the black stuff if you want to get an early start on your boozing.

The biggest event will be the official Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which takes place on March 17.

Marching bands, Irish dancers, GAA Gaelic Football players and apparently a few donkeys will be making their way through the city centre, accompanied by huge themed floats. Sounds like it’s going to be a blast.

Don't miss: Much of the festival revolves around music this year – Irish pop rockers The Script are playing at Manchester Arena on the night of March 17 and throughout the fortnight there’ll also be plenty of chances to catch traditional live bands such as The Dublin Legends, The Last Drop, Claire Mooney and Grace Kelly and Friends.

When:  March 8-18. 

More:  manchesteririshfestival.co.uk

Birmingham 

The craic: Birmingham has one of the biggest Irish diasporas in the UK, so you can expect the parties held here to be authentically raucous.

(There were more than 70,000 Irish-born Brummies recorded in the 1990s, so you can expect big crowds.)

Events run for a full week and include a women’s GAA Gaelic Camogie tournament (it’s a 15-a-side stick and ball game, a bit like men’s Irish hurling), a literary night celebrating authors from the Emerald Isle and a whiskey tasting night hosted by Birmingham Whiskey Club, which is expected to be extremely well attended (it’s free!).

For more cultural tipples, the Irish Craft Brewers Beer Festival will be held at The Anchor Inn until March 20.

Don't miss: The Parade on St Patrick’s Day itself will be quite a sight, kicking off at noon with the release of hundreds of green, white and gold balloons.   

When: March 9-17.

More:  stpatricksbirmingham.com

 


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