Get ready for all things green, because St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner! Many places around the world go all-out for the holiday, but you don’t need to travel to a big city to join the festivities; Pittsburgh is one of the best destinations for St. Paddy’s Day. About 14% of Pittsburgh’s population is Irish and they certainly know how to celebrate their heritage. Pittsburgh hosts one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, plus bar crawls and other fun activities, too. Keep reading to learn more about the history of St. Patrick’s Day, the best events and bars to check out, and our recommendations for short-term rentals in Pittsburgh.
St. Patrick’s Day History and Traditions
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17, which is the death date of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick was born in the late 4th century and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but later returned to Ireland as a religious missionary. There are many legends surrounding the saint; it’s said that he drove snakes out of Ireland and that he used a three-leaf shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. Ireland began using this day to celebrate its patron saint with religious services and feasts. St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737, and the first parade was in New York in 1762.
Today, the holiday has become a largely secular holiday to celebrate all things Irish. There are many St. Patrick’s Day traditions, many of which revolve around the color green: wearing green (unless you want to get pinched!); dying food and drinks green; and, in some cities, rivers and fountains are even dyed green during the festivities. The holiday is also heavily associated with drinking alcohol – especially Guinness and other Irish ales – and eating traditional Irish food such as corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread.
St. Patrick’s Day Events in Pittsburgh
St. Patrick’s Day Parade: March 14
Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is held annually on the Saturday before the holiday. It is one of the largest in the USA, drawing around 23,000 participants and over 200,000 spectators. The parade will begin at 10 am at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 11th Street downtown. Afterward, check out nearby Market Square for live Irish music and family-friendly fun.
Bar Crawls: March 14 and 17
St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest drinking days of the year, so what better way to celebrate than with a bar crawl? The Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day Irish Stroll takes place downtown on March 14 from 1-10 pm and on March 17 from 5 pm to closing time. Participating downtown bars include North Shore Tavern, Ten Penny, Sharp Edge Bistro, Mike’s Beer Bar, and 941 Saloon. Tickets for the event start at $15.
St. Patrick’s Day Family Fun at Fifth Avenue Place: March 14
For those seeking family-friendly activities this St. Patrick’s Day, head to Fifth Avenue Place after the parade. This is a shopping and office complex located downtown. From 11 am to 2 pm, you and your children will be able to enjoy crafts, face painting, and live Irish music. As a bonus, this event is free!
Virtual Run: March 1-31
If you’re looking for something a little different to do, go for a St. Patrick’s Day run. Shamrocks & Shenanigans (4-mile) or Luck of the Irish (3.17-mile) are both virtual runs. This means that you can choose to run whenever and wherever you’d like, then report your time. As long as your run is completed between March 1-31, it will count!