The holiday season is officially over which on one hand is depressing. Nothing says happiness to me more than Christmas break in NEPA. On the other hand, a respite is clearly needed. I always wonder where the people I talk to, coworkers and students, spend the holidays that they deem, “so relaxing.” While I love the holidays, Thanksgiving until Christmas is an almost constant barrage of booze, desserts, parties and appetizer spreads. I returned to Lancaster January 2 with a sore body, despondent liver, unhealthy bank account, and the dire need to sleep uninterrupted for a couple of days, not to mention a ten pounds heavier than I was in October (I know, first world problems and all, I shouldn’t be complaining).
I’m thankful that January and February are relatively low key, not only because I’m in severe need for some recuperation, but because January & February are downtime before the onslaught of food, fun and drinks that is March.
I’ve noted before that St. Patrick’s Day for me is more than just a holiday: it’s a whole season.
- The March 2nd (first weekend) I’ll be on my way to Philadelphia for Erin Express.
- March 9th (second weekend) is the holy grail of my social existence: Scranton’s St. Patrick’s Day parade (which eats up an entire weekend).
- St. Patrick’s Day this year falls on a weekend (third weekend). My plans are up in the air for now, but I wouldn’t be opposed to reliving a Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day; Dropkick Murphy’s are coming out with a new album.
Like any good holiday, those serious about the Irish drinking festivities should start making preparations now:
- Get healthy: March is fun but terrible for your liver and gut. Exercise more now so you don’t feel bad about that extra car bomb or piece of Irish soda bread.
- Save your money: St. Patrick’s Day is a relatively cheap holiday but involves a lot of day drinking. You’ll also need to take into account covers, tips, food, and any travel expenses.
- Get an outfit ready. Listen, nobody likes an asshole who wears jeans, a red polo, and a Northface to one of these events. It’s just plain bad form. Now, you don’t necessarily need to dress like an clown (props if you do, though), but start gearing up with some green for your wardrobe.
- There’s also a whole host of Irish music you should start getting familiar with if you want to be the life of the party. Unfortunately last year about this time I came down with mono, which stopped my blogging and almost ruined March for me. I planned on giving a few song suggestions every week so that if you ran into an old Irish guy playing guitar in a pub, you could get into his good graces. This year I’ll keep up with that. Be on the look out.
You’re lucky if you’re living in Pennsylvania, a state with so much Irish tradition (especially if you’re from NEPA, or Philadelphia, so there’s alot of fun to choose from. We’re also within easy driving of New York & Boston, meccas of Irish culture themselves. Below you’ll find a list of St. Patrick’s Day events occuring (or close to) Pennsylvania.
PA St. Patrick’s Day Guide
Erin Express: The first Erin Express of the month is one of my favorite days of the year. Erin Express is a bar crawl that happens on the first three Saturdays of March. About fifteen bars participate and are connected by school buses that make a rotation every year. The bars have specials, the streets in front of them are closed down, and most have bands or DJs. Warning: this is an early event, so make plans to wake early and be in bed early. The Erin Express runs through University City, Market St., and near the art museum.
Erin Express received some flack last year, but if you want to escape the real drunken crowds, hit somewhere like Bonners, it’s divy enough to keep the big crowds away but it’s trashy and does the day complete justice.
Shamrock Shuttle: The Shamrock Shuttle is NE Philly’s answer to Erin Express. It occurs on the same dates, but his a different set of bars.
Running of the Micks: Another Philly staple, Running of the Micks occurs on March 9 (so I won’t be attending). Running of the Micks has its own set of bars (downtown and in Old City) connected by school buses, cumulating in a run (dressed like leprechaun) up and down the Art Museum steps.
Scranton St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The Scranton St. Patrick’s Day is legendary and puts the Electric City on the map on March 9. It’s debatably the third largest parade in the United States. See my post here for suggestions on where to go on parade day.
Parades: PA is chock full of parades in March. These are the biggest:
Flogging Molly & Dropkick Murphys are both coming to PA in March. Dropkick is playing dual dates on the 8th and 9th. Flogging Molly is coming early, January 31st for some practice. Those looking for something a bit more traditional can find the Irish Rovers on March 8th.
Out of State Fun:
If you must venture out of the Keystone State during March, my suggestions would be Boston, New York, or Savannah.
- Irish is synonymous with Boston. The Southie Parade will be occurring on St. Patrick’s Day and heavily features military and veterans.
- NYC is also known for their Irish community and parade, which is the largest in the country.
- It also confuses me how a state located below the Mason Dixon could have such a prominent St. Pat’s parade, but that’s the rumor about Savannah.
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