St. Patrick’s Day in Boston: A Celebration to Remember

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(photo: Bryan Maleszyk)

Celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Boston is tradition. As America’s most Irish city, Boston has many plans for the four-day weekend celebration, with several events available throughout the month of March.

Little known fact: as with most things in America, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated differently than the traditional Irish way. As the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick is revered and the day used to be celebrated with a visit to church, hearty family dinner, and if you even thought of a visit to the local bar, you would be out of luck. Nowadays, Irish folks everywhere think of St. Patrick’s Day as a way to encourage Irish pride and celebration.

With just two weeks to go, here are some tips to keep your travel expenses on budget.

Things to do

Well, drinking Irish beer would be big on that list, and Boston provides 100+ Irish pubs within the downtown area and an easy walk from many hotels, as well as convenient public transportation. Thumbs up for a car-free weekend.

While you are out walking, join the Irish Heritage Trail, 2.5 miles of landmarks of the Irish in Boston. Stop by the Visitor Information Center and pick up a free map.

During the week of St Patrick’s Day, consider these special events:

Friday, March 18: Irish punk-band Dropkick Murphys performs at the Boston’s House of Blues near Fenway Park. Their new album is set to release today (March 1), and their annual concerts are always popular. Look for tickets on StubHub, starting at $77.

Saturday, March 19: Paula Poundstone is in town at the Wilbur Theater, dishing out her razor-sharp wit (tickets $22 and $35). Or perhaps The Del McCoury Band with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at the Symphony Hall (tickets $42 – $55)? Either way, you are in good shape.

Sunday, March 20: Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade along South Boston’s main boulevard, with over 50 marching bands and organizations. Free. Dress warmly (and in green).

If you find you need to discover a different kind of green while in Boston, the Flower & Garden Show at the Seaport World Trade Center begins March 16 (Adult Admission, $20). Join the Massachusetts Horticulture Society and enjoy free admission to the Flower & Garden Show! (Annual individual membership is $50)


March (and August) brings the annual Restaurant Week Boston promotion with local dining establishments – dining deals abound. This can be a great way to save money while you travel, with 2-course lunches at $15.11, 3-course lunches at $20.11 and 3 course dinners at $33.11. Participating restaurants include Amelia’s Trattoria (Italian, dinner), B&G Oysters (Seafood, lunch/dinner), and Oishii Boston (Sushi, lunch). Keep in mind, the discounted menus are offered only during certain periods, and it is wise to check guidelines and restrictions before booking a reservation.

Fortunately, because Boston is a great college town, there are many inexpensive restaurants in the city. Urban Spoon posts their list of Cheap Eats, and Faneuil Hall offers several options in the Quincy Market Colonnade for the budget diner. During St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Faneuil Hall invites local Irish Step Dancing groups to provide entertainment for visitors throughout the day.

If you are looking for a traditional American St. Patrick’s Day dinner, corned beef and cabbage, also known as the New England boiled dinner, visit Durgin Park, J.J. Foley’s Pub & Restaurant, and Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury.

Lodging and Transportation

Staying in downtown Boston, especially during St. Patrick’s Day week, can be expensive. For good deals, check Kayak, which searches the internet for the lowest prices among many different travel sites. Prices start at about $100 a night in the city. If you want to be close to the St. Patrick’s Day action, check out hotels in South Boston.

If you are looking to save more money on your lodging, consider communities just outside Boston, including Allston, Cambridge and Brighton. All are accessible via public transportation, and offer budget accommodations. For additional discount and budget lodging options, check out University and Economy lodging from the Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, highlighting hostels, short-term apartment rentals and university accommodations.

The best way to get around Boston is via the T, with subway, bus, commuter rail and boat service. Visit the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority for details, including information on purchasing a CharlieCard before you depart. With the CharlieCard, subway rides are $1.70 and bus rides are $1.25, a 15% savings.


Gudrun Enger is a travel, food and lifestyle blogger based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Find her @kitchengirl on Twitter.

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