Where to stay in London (and what to eat, drink and do) for St. Patrick's Day
By Alyson Sheppard, Jan 2020
Parades and parties honoring the patron saint of Ireland take place all over the world on March 17, and England is no exception. With an estimated six million people of Irish descent living in the U.K., since 2002, London has thrown a major festival celebrating all things Irish arts and culture. As long as you know where to stay in London, what to do and what to eat and drink, you'll stay close to the festivities and feel like a local during your reveling.
Where to stay and what to do
The annual London St. Patrick's Day Festival is the largest celebration of Irish culture in London, and it takes place in central Trafalgar Square. The festival features street markets, dance and musical performances, food stalls and a parade that travels a mile and a half through central London. The city expects 75,000 participants (including dancers, marching bands and float-riders) in the parade and plenty more spectators.
Your best bet for where to stay in London is within walking distance of the event, in neighborhoods such as Mayfair and Covent Garden. The Ritz London, open since 1906 in Mayfair, is an iconic and lavish choice, and even offers Rolls-Royce rides to its guests. For those looking for a more modern option, Assembly London is a boutique option with a rooftop bar that boasts panoramic views of the city.
The London Irish Centre, near Camden Square, hosts a full week of events surrounding St. Patrick's Day. There are traditional meals, film showings, dance lessons, plays, concerts, comedy shows and Gaelic language lessons, and most of them take place in northern London. The center also contains the O'Donovan Library, a unique community resource filled with more than 7,000 titles on Irish culture. The Central Victorian House offers sleek private rooms, some with fireplaces and terraces, in a nearby Victorian townhouse. Camden Town Garden Cabin, a wooden cabin in the middle of a lush city garden, is another charming choice.
In conjunction with the St. Patrick's Day Festival, Irish Film London will host three days of shorts, animations, documentaries and movies with a connection to Ireland at Regent Street Cinema in Marylebone. Trendy hotel The Marylebone is within walking distance of the cinema and The Regent's Park, and it offers marble bathrooms, heated floors and afternoon tea.
Where (and what) to eat and drink
For a taste of modern Ireland and some hip, seasonal seafood, try Roe. Built inside a shipping container in the Pop Brixton center, Roe is an intimate concept from a young, Irish seaside-born chef who has restaurants in England and Belgium. At Roe, he serves dishes such as Guinness soda bread with seaweed butter and sea trout with nori gnocchi.
Homeboy, in Islington, is a stop for comforting Irish bites with a hip-hop soundtrack. Try the traditional Irish stew, made with lamb, carrots, onions, potatoes and soda bread; or the curry chip poutine, fries smothered in curry sauce and topped with cheese curds. The restaurant and bar is renowned for its cocktail menu, which includes plenty of Irish whiskey drinks. Try the Wogan, a concoction of Irish whiskey, apricot brandy, lime, sugar and salt.
And you can't celebrate Ireland without downing a pint of Guinness. Grab one at The Tipperary, right on Fleet Street in the city center. It's over 400 years old and is believed to have been the first pub outside of Ireland to serve Guinness on draft. You can also try poitín, a white, moonshine-like Irish whiskey at The Sun Tavern in East London; the drinking den has the largest collection of the spirit in the world and the largest selection of Irish whiskey in London.
While Irish culture and history can be found and celebrated year-round in London, partaking in the citywide festivities surrounding St. Patrick's Day is bound to be a uniquely fun, delicious and educational pursuit. Sláinte!
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