St Patrick’s Day Parade Boston: Origin and History, Route, Time & How to Enjoy

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston is a vivid celebration that encapsulates the rich cultural heritage and spirited camaraderie of Irish-Americans. 

Held annually in March, this iconic event attracts thousands of spectators and participants from all walks of life. Dating back to 1737, it’s one of the oldest and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the United States. 

The parade features a dazzling display of floats, marching bands, traditional Irish dancers, and bagpipers, all adorned in vivid green attire. 

Alongside the colorful procession, the streets of Boston come alive with infectious energy and festive cheer, as locals and visitors alike revel in the joyous atmosphere. 

More than just a celebration of Irish culture, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston serves as a testament to the enduring legacy and enduring spirit of the Irish-American community in New England.

St Patrick’s Day Parade Boston

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston stands as one of the city’s most cherished and anticipated annual events, embodying the spirit of Irish heritage, culture, and community. 

Every year, on or around March 17th, Bostonians and visitors alike gather along the parade route to revel in the festivities, which showcase a vivid display of music, dance, and Irish pride.

Origin and History

Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade traces its roots back to the early 18th century when Irish immigrants first began arriving in the city. 

Over the years, the parade has evolved into a grand celebration of Irish culture, serving as a testament to the enduring contributions of the Irish-American community to the fabric of Boston.



The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston winds its way through the historic streets of South Boston, a neighborhood with deep Irish roots. The parade begins at the Broadway T station, where participants line up and eagerly await the start. 

As the procession sets off, it travels along iconic thoroughfares such as West Broadway, East Broadway, and Dorchester Street, passing by landmarks and local businesses adorned with green decorations in honor of the occasion. 

Along the route, spectators gather on sidewalks and street corners, waving Irish flags and cheering as the parade marches by. 

The route culminates with a final loop around Andrew Square before coming to an end at Old Colony Avenue, leaving behind a trail of Irish pride and camaraderie.


The festivities of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston typically begin in the late morning, with the main procession starting around 1:00 PM. 

However, the excitement often starts much earlier as crowds begin to gather along the route, eagerly anticipating the arrival of marching bands, colorful floats, and other participants. 

The air is filled with anticipation and excitement as the countdown to the parade’s start begins. Families, friends, and visitors from near and far come together to celebrate this cherished tradition, making memories that will last a lifetime.

What to Enjoy on St Patrick’s Day Parade Boston?

There’s so much to enjoy at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston!

Here are some highlights:

Colorful Floats

Colorful Floats

Experience the creativity and artistry on display as you admire the intricately designed floats adorned with vivid colors, elaborate decorations, and eye-catching themes. 

From majestic representations of Irish folklore to playful interpretations of St. Patrick’s Day traditions, each float adds to the visual spectacle of the parade and offers a unique glimpse into Irish culture and heritage.

Dazzling Performances

Be mesmerized by the skill and precision of Irish step dancers as they showcase their intricate footwork and graceful movements with precision and grace. 

Their colorful costumes, synchronized routines, and infectious energy captivate audiences of all ages and add an extra layer of excitement to the parade experience.

Marching Bands

Applaud the talent and dedication of marching bands as they march in perfect formation, playing spirited tunes and entertaining the crowds with their dynamic performances. 

The rhythmic cadence of drums, the melodic strains of brass instruments, and the harmonious blend of musical styles create a symphony of sound that fills the streets with energy and enthusiasm.

Irish Music

Irish Music

Let the infectious rhythms and melodies of traditional Irish music transport you to the Emerald Isle as you listen to live bands and musicians performing along the parade route. 

From the soulful sounds of fiddles and flutes to the lively beats of bodhráns and accordions, the music creates an uplifting atmosphere and fills the air with joy and celebration.

Community Spirit

Embrace the sense of unity and belonging as you join fellow parade-goers in celebrating Irish culture and heritage. 

Whether you’re marching alongside friends and family or cheering from the sidelines, the shared experience fosters a strong sense of community and camaraderie that transcends differences and brings people together in a spirit of joy and celebration.

Traditional Irish Food and Drinks

Traditional Irish Food and Drinks

Treat your taste buds to the delicious flavors of Ireland with a wide variety of traditional Irish food and drinks available from vendors along the parade route. 

Indulge in hearty classics like Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage, and shepherd’s pie, or satisfy your sweet tooth with treats like Irish soda bread, scones, and desserts adorned with shamrock motifs. 

Wash it all down with a pint of Guinness, a glass of Irish whiskey, or a refreshing Celtic cocktail to complete the culinary experience.

Interactive Fun

Engage in interactive activities and entertainment for parade-goers of all ages, with opportunities to join in the fun and make lasting memories. 

Pose for photos with costumed characters and parade participants, get your face painted with festive designs, and enjoy family-friendly games and activities that add an extra element of excitement and enjoyment to the parade festivities.

Community Engagement

Learn more about local community organizations and initiatives as you interact with participants and representatives along the parade route. 

Discover the important work being done to support various causes and promote positive change in the community, and find ways to get involved and make a difference in the lives of others. 

From charity fundraisers and volunteer opportunities to educational outreach and advocacy efforts, the parade serves as a platform for community engagement and empowerment, inspiring meaningful connections and collaborations that extend beyond the event itself.

How to Enjoy St Patrick’s Day Parade Boston?

Enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston is a quintessential experience that celebrates Irish heritage and culture in one of the most vivid cities in the United States.

Here’s how you can make the most of this festive occasion:

Arrive Early

 St Patrick’s Day Parade Boston

To secure a prime viewing spot along the parade route, it’s best to arrive early. Many parade-goers stake out their positions hours in advance, setting up folding chairs and blankets along the sidewalks. 

Arriving early not only ensures a good view but also allows you to soak in the pre-parade atmosphere and maybe even make some new friends among fellow revelers.

Dress the Part

St. Patrick’s Day is synonymous with the color green, and parade attendees often go all out with their attire. From green hats and scarves to shamrock-shaped glasses and face paint, there’s no shortage of festive attire to choose from. 

Dressing up adds to the fun and helps you feel like a part of the celebration. Don’t forget to accessorize with some Irish flair, whether it’s a clover necklace or a leprechaun pin.

Immerse Yourself in the Atmosphere

Immerse Yourself in the Atmosphere

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston is a feast for the senses, with lively music, colorful costumes, and energetic performances at every turn. 

Take the time to fully immerse yourself in the experience by cheering on the marching bands, clapping along to the music, and maybe even trying out a few dance steps of your own. 

Don’t be afraid to interact with the parade participants, whether it’s giving high-fives to passing performers or striking up conversations with fellow spectators.

Explore South Boston

After the parade winds down, the festivities in South Boston are far from over. Take the opportunity to explore this vivid neighborhood and discover its rich history and culture. 

Stop by one of the many Irish pubs for a pint of Guinness or sample some traditional Irish cuisine at a local restaurant. 

You’ll find no shortage of warm hospitality and good craic (fun) as you continue the celebration into the evening.

Enjoy by Streaming

For those unable to attend the parade in person, several options exist for streaming the event live. Local television stations often provide coverage of the parade, allowing viewers to enjoy the festivities from the comfort of their own homes. 

Additionally, many online platforms and social media channels offer live streams of the parade, allowing people from around the world to tune in and join the celebration virtually. 

Keep an eye on official event websites and social media pages for information on where to find the live stream and how to access it. 

Whether you’re watching from the sidelines or from afar, streaming the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston is a great way to experience the excitement and camaraderie of this beloved tradition.


When is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston?

The parade typically takes place on or around March 17th each year, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

What is the route of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston?

The parade route winds its way through South Boston, starting at the Broadway T station and proceeding along West Broadway, East Broadway, Dorchester Street, and then looping around Andrew Square before finishing at Old Colony Avenue.

Can anyone participate in the parade?

Yes, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston welcomes participants from various organizations, including marching bands, dance groups, cultural societies, and more.

Are there any viewing areas along the parade route?

Yes, spectators can line the sidewalks along the parade route to view the festivities.

Is there a rain date for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade?

Yes, in the event of inclement weather, the parade may be postponed to a later date.

Wrap Up

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston is not merely a procession; it’s a vivid tapestry woven from the threads of tradition, culture, and community. 

As the floats and marching bands wind their way through the historic streets of South Boston, they carry with them the spirit of the Irish diaspora and the pride of generations past and present. 

The parade serves as a joyful reminder of the enduring bonds that unite us, transcending differences and bringing people together in celebration. 

Whether you’re Irish by birth or Irish at heart, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade offers a moment to revel in the shared heritage and camaraderie that define the city of Boston. 

As the echoes of the last march fade away, the memories of this beloved tradition linger, a testament to the enduring spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in the heart of Massachusetts.

Photo of author

Laura Chassaigne

After spending her early years in Boston, Laura moved abroad and has lived in Montreal, London, and Paris. She now shares a home with her husband and daughter at the top of Beacon Hill, and these days, she can often be found chasing her daughter in the Public Garden or downtown playgrounds. Laura has a background in art history and archaeology and is also a certified Kripalu yoga teacher. Connect with Laura on Twitter or Instagram.

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