Green clothing, shamrocks, leprechauns, pints of Guinness, corned beef sandwiches, tap dancing, bagpipes and kilts… we’d have a hard time explaining St. Patrick’s Day to visiting aliens.
“What’s this celebration all about? Well, back in the 5th century, a Roman teenager was kidnapped and enslaved by Irish raiders, converted to Christianity, escaped, then came back to convert others. He was forgotten and later mythologized as a patron saint over the course of many centuries. Some people said he drove all the snakes from Ireland. Were there snakes in Ireland to begin with? No. But there was no Google back then, so it sounded reasonable. Anyway, because the holiday is a one-day break from the abstinence of Lent, folks tended to party too hard, so the church felt it needed to do some PR control. They created a story about how Patrick was legendary for using a three-leaf clover to explain the Holy Trinity. Social pressure ensued, and the pious pinned these ‘shamrocks’ to their clothes to demonstrate their Irish Christian pride, then went back to partying. The Irish wore blue on St. Patrick’s Day until the rebellion of 1798, when they switched to green to contrast red British military uniforms. The holiday’s popularity endured as a celebration of Irish heritage. Recently, wanton American consumerism eschewed the religious aspects for hedonistic consumerism that generates north of $6 billion in revenue annually.”
Of course, that’s just what a jaded American with a culture only a few centuries old might say. The Irish started farming around 6,000 years ago, millenia before the United States was a twinkle in Caucasian eyes. Despite being invaded, conquered and colonized between then and now, the Irish managed to keep the core of their culture intact. From dance to drink, folk music to food, inimitable writers, artists, and Celtic craftspeople, their people have a lot to be proud of.
If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Ireland, you’ll find it lives up to the hype. Yes, the grass is greener than you could imagine. Yes, the pubs are full day and night of enthusiastic drinking companions. Yes, there are religious undertones everywhere. But the one thing you’ll never forget are the people, who are more often than not friendly, humble, fun and genuine. Irish eyes are smiling.
The next best thing to visiting the island is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in and around Ulster County, where a large Irish-descended population calls home. Below you’ll find the forty best St. Patrick’s Day events we could find in the area, including drink and food specials at Irish-embracing Hudson Valley pubs.
The premiere St. Patrick’s Day event in Ulster County is Kingston’s all-day celebration on Sun. Mar 12, beginning with the popular Shamrock Run (12:50 sharp), followed immediately by a parade and ending with bacchanalian revelry at waterfront establishments throughout the evening.
The Shamrock Run is accessible to everyone, from joggers to jabronis. It’s a mad dash from Academy Park in Uptown down the length of Broadway that finishes at the foot of the hill where the road meets the waterfront. The sidewalks are lined with cheering celebrants, and the rush of hearing their screams while speeding down the empty avenue is something every local should experience at least once.
The official St. Patrick’s Day Parade brings up the rear of the race, and dissolves into Rondout bar/restaurants like Ship to Shore and Mariner’s Harbor. If you time it right, you might catch kilt-wearing pipe bands dancing on the bar. Rumor has it there’s a private piper speakeasy after-party called “Piper’s Pub” in Hurley – that’s the party-within-a-party to make if you can get the invite.
Since St. Patrick’s Day is a celebration of community as well as a “drinking holiday”, you might want to stay a little closer to home if you’re not in the Kingston area. Fortunately, you’ll find virtually every St. Patrick’s Day event in and around Ulster County listed below.
Celtic Heels Irish Dance at Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, 11am.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Green in Beacon, 12pm.
Paddy in Poughkeepsie featuring The Mighty Ploughboys / NOTKick Murphys, vendors beer and traditional Irish foods at MJN Convention Center in Poughkeepsie, 2pm.
Tommy Gardner Duo / Hooley Shooters & Irish classics and American pub favorites at The Greenport in Hudson, 6pm.
Pre-St. Patrick’s Day Shenanigans at Empire of Defiance Ulster (next to Partition Bar and Grill backlot) in Saugerties, 7pm.
ACME Mystery Co. Hudson Valley presents A Wee Bit o’ Murder Mystery Dinner at Mahoney’s Irish Pub & Steakhouse in Poughkeepsie, 7pm (matinee Sun. 3/12 at pm.)
St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Kingston, 1pm.
St. Patrick’s Celebration featuring kegs and eggs breakfast and live music from Joe Murphy (7am), Adrian O’Leary (10am) and Dreams of Freedom (2pm) at Mahoney’s Irish Pub in Poughkeepsie.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at Kelly’s Shamrock Tavern in Kingston, 8am.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at O’Connor’s Public House in Pawling, 9am.
Live music with Liam O’Neill and Vince Fisher at Garvan’s in New Paltz, 11am.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at P&G’s in New Paltz, 11am.
Guinness and St. Paddy’s Day specials at The Woodstock Pub, 11am.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at McGillicuddy’s in New Paltz, 12pm.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at Erin O’Neill’s Pub & Grill in Poughkeepsie, 12pm.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at Hurley Mountain Inn, 2pm.
St. Patrick’s Day corned beef & cabbage by Mitso at Rose Hill Winery & Cidery in Red Hook, 3pm.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at Juan Murphy’s in Arlington, 3:30pm.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day Movie Screening for Kids: Darby O’Gill and The Little People (1959) at Woodstock Library, 4pm.
The Celtic Heels – Irish dancing w/corned beef and cabbage specials at La Cucina Rosalie in Highland, 4pm.
Live music with O’Sullivan’s March (traditional Irish trio) and St. Patrick’s Day specials at Bia in Rhinebeck, 5pm.
St. Patrick’s Day specials at Traghaven Whiskey Pub in Tivoli, 5pm.
St. Paddy’s Party at Darby O’Gills in Hyde Park, 6pm.
Live Music with County Hell at Mahoney’s Irish Pub in Poughkeepsie, 6pm.
A Mix of Traditional and Modern Irish Music with Runcible Spoon and Bossa Blue Goes Green at Colony in Woodstock, 7pm.
Live music with McGroovin’ at Keegan Ales, 7pm.
Live music with Beer Stained Fiddle at Hudson Brewing Co., 7pm.
Live music with Miles Brothers Band at The Dutch in Saugerties, 7pm.
Ulster Chamber of Commerce St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast Meeting with live music from T. McCann Band at The Venue Uptown in Kingston, 7:30pm.
Songs, Jigs & Reels with The Wild Swan Band at Rosendale Theatre, 8pm.
Traditional and original Irish tunes w/Black Mountain Symphony at Pearl Moon in Woodstock, 8pm.
St. Patrick’s Day show with Paul McMahon and Eva Bublick at Station Bar and Curio in Woodstock, 8:30pm.
Rose Clancy Trio with special guest John Clancy at Towne Crier Cafe (Main Stage) in Beacon, 8:30pm.
St. Patrick’s Day Emo Night with Run for Cover at Toasted in Newburgh, 9pm. No cover if you’re wearing green.
Clover Classic 5K on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail at Tony Williams Town Park in Highland, 11am.
Live music from Adian O’Leary (1pm), Mick Lynch (4pm) with bagpipers and Irish step dancers at Mahoney’s Irish Pub in Poughkeepsie.
Madd Mike Fundraiser with raffles, live music, giveaways and more at Mahoney’s Irish Pub in Poughkeepsie, 2pm.
Wallkill/Shawangunk 36th St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Wallkill, 2pm.
Oxford Station Band with Irish food specials at Nu-Cavu in Wallkill, 3:30pm.