If you’re thinking it’s a bit early to be looking at ways to celebrate the Irish Saint of Green Face Paint and Guinness, let me explain. St. Patrick’s Day might be a few weeks away (17th March, just so you know) but the world’s a vast place and Irish Bars are many. So I thought I’d get a jump on the big day itself, do some background research and point you in the direction of a few places where St. Paddy himself would not feel out of place having a Craic and a pint of the black stuff – if he wasn’t a saint, obviously. But, before you go off dismissing my efforts as a thinly disguised excuse to trawl the drinking dens of Dublin, not one of my suggestions for this year’s celebrations is on home soil. They’re spread far and wide, but have one thing in common: a deep and enduring reverence for ‘the auld country’.
Someone once told me that all you needed for a traditional Irish Band was three chords and a Begorra. Working on that logic, it seems the only requirement for an Irish Pub is a leprechaun bobble-head, a liberal sprinkling of shamrocks and a road sign. There was even a tale doing the rounds about Dublin having to spend a fortune replacing street plaques removed by unscrupulous visiting publicans and hived off to add a touch of authenticity to Irish Pubs in less than Irish locations (Mongolia anyone?). That may be so, but my search goes far beyond the superficial window dressing of the Irish Pub to the heart of the true spirit of St. Patrick’s Day – drinking, dancing and telling complete strangers that you’ve always loved them.
And where else would I start my arduous quest, but Boston? The city’s keeper of the flame when it comes to Irish heritage and has the pubs to prove it. Steer clear of the ‘theme’ bars (a green drink does not an Irish pub make). And if it’s part of a chain, I don’t think I need to tell you how that’s going to go. No, my money’s on the Brendan Behan Pub or ‘The Behan’ as it’s known locally. Four times winner of ‘The Best Irish Pub in Boston’ and loved for its wide range of stouts and ales, ‘craic-centric’ philosophy, live music and traditional (for Boston) atmosphere, The Behan’s named after the poet, Republican, political prisoner and hard drinker Brendan Behan. The Brendan Behan, 378 Center Street, Jamaica Plain (a trolley ride from Downtown Boston).
London’s tiny Tipperary is the city’s oldest Irish pub and has held its ground on Fleet Street since 1700 (the original pub is older but not Irish, so doesn’t count). Supposedly this was the first place in England to sell Guinness and it’s been upholding that fine tradition ever since. It’s small and very friendly and has the kind of cosy atmosphere you might expect if you really were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Tipperary and not in fact in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities. The Tipperary, 66 Fleet Street, London EC4Y.
If you’re a diehard traditionalist and you find yourself in Athens on March 17th, despair not, the James Joyce Irish Pub is celebrating like it’s Dublin on a Friday after 5. Everything’s where it should be from the draught Stout and whisky selection to a dark wood long-bar and Steak & Guinness Pie. But the music’s more DJ than Ceilidh and the folks you get to declare undying love for are of the younger variety. James Joyce Irish Pub, Astiggos 12, Thiseio 105 55, Athens.
No one’s going to accuse the world’s Irish pubs of imagination when it comes to names, so you’ll have to forgive Istanbul’s one and only for also heading down the route of James Joyce Irish Pub. But if you’re dying for a long, black drink and some Irish Dancing Classes you’ve arrived. The James Joyce, Istanbul is a bit of a favourite on a city pub crawl and does boisterous as standard so I’m thinking all stops will be pulled for St. Patrick’s Day. James Joyce Irish Pub, İstiklal Caddesi, Balo Sokak 26, Beyoğlu, Istanbul.
If an ‘Open Mike Night’ with Siggi Porbergs isn’t likely to have you weeping into your Jamieson’s, you’ll be right up for the Irish pub experience Reykjavik style. The Celtic Cross is one of two Irish pubs in the city both owned by the same Icelander (he makes no claims to Celtic roots) and while it might not focus on authentic music, the booze is plenty traditional enough to distract you. The Celtic Cross, Hverfisgata 26, 101 Reykjavik.
Paris has always been a pull for Irish ex-pats and has more than a few literary and artistic connections to its Celtic counterpart, so finding an Irish pub is never a problem. For very traditional music, warm atmosphere and a great bar I recommend The Quiet Man, in Le Marais. A lot more authentic than the John Wayne movie it’s named for, The Quiet Man is open from 5pm to late, almost always has live music and will definitely be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The Quiet Man, 5 Rue des Haudriettes, Paris (close to The Pompidou Centre).
I couldn’t write about Irish pubs without including at least one ‘tavern’ – I love a tavern. It’s New York, of course, and if you like your Guinness surrounded by flat-screen sport The Kinsale Tavern is the place for you. Not that New York City’s lacking in Irish pubs (there’s even one at JFK, if you’re desperate). But The Kinsale Tavern does a mean Shepherd’s Pie and a Full Irish Breakfast. And everyone knows how important it is to max the carbs if you’re going to do St. Patrick’s Day justice. The Kinsale Tavern, 1672 3rd Avenue, New York, NY10128.
And come the 17th March, when the Guinness is flowing and the Craic is crackling, feel free to have at my all-time-favourite bad Irish Joke:
Q. What did St. Patrick say to the snakes when he was driving them out of Ireland?
A. ‘Are you all right in the back there lads?
Yes, that’s quite enough St. Patrick’s Day nonsense from me. I know.
Guy Fawkes in the UK, then Diwali around the world, Thanksgiving in the USA to Hanukkah and Christmas just gone we’ve had plenty of things to celebrate at this time of the year; and to go along with all these festivities are the whizzes, pops and bangs of fireworks displays. However, fireworks design teams around the world are saving the best for last with New Year’s Eve being the highlight of their calendar. Here’s our guide to some of the best places in the world to see them master their craft and stop and shop coinstar Coinstar Money Transfer, ROMANIA, MURES welcome in 2013 with a bang. Literally.
Let’s start with the most obvious shall we? There’s no denying that Sydney has the best New Year’s Eve parties, with their consistently spectacular fireworks that the whole world tunes in to see. 7 tonnes of fireworks and 52 illuminated boats in the harbor light up the city, certainly making Sydney one of the most breathtaking places to usher in the New Year. It’s also the peak of summer in Australia; so on top of a world-class light show, the weather is gorgeous.
Sydney © Christopher Chan
Every year, Londoners and tourists alike line the banks of the River Thames, waiting in the cold and often the rain for midnight, breath hanging in the air. They wait so eagerly and jovially because London consistently offers some of the most well-choreographed, beautiful light shows on earth – and a wait in damp weather is always worth it. With the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee taking place in 2012, we fully expect this year’s fireworks display in London to be one of their best yet. For a different experience, head to Alexandra Park or Hampstead Heath for some of the best views at a distance without the crowds.
London © Beacon Radio
‘Hogmanay’ is Scotland’s chance to put its city on the map as one of the best places to see in the New Year. New Year’s in Edinburgh is all about its parties, with event being held all over town from the 30th including concerts, the torchlight procession and the world famous, family-friendly street party on Princes Street. At midnight, the cannon is fired from Edinburgh Castle to kick off a fireworks display which lights up the whole city.
Torchlight processional © Rude Cech
Fireworks are a huge part of Silvestre celebrations with many being let loose from peoples’ balconies and gardens – you have been warned! A number of organized displays take place throughout the city but one of the most popular is the always dramatic and visually brilliant fireworks set off against the stunning backdrops of Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column. Combined with the largest open-air New Year’s Eve party in the world (with live bands, electronic music, laser and light shows and heaps of good food and drink to find), New Year’s in Berlin is always an unforgettable experience.
Berlin © bby_
Amsterdam is at its most festive for the new year, and every year the city invites its inhabitants and visitors to join in a night of free live music and entertainment starting from 9pm and culminating in, of course, a massive fireworks display. Head down to Museumplein to join in this year or find a spot near the canals to watch the reflections of the fireworks light up Amsterdam’s beautiful waterways at midnight. Another popular view is of the fireworks over the Amstel River, with the Magere Bridge, popularly known as skinny bridge, offering the best viewpoint if you can find a spot.
Museumplein, Amsterdam © evghoul
There is one very special and unique tradition in Miami called the Big Orange; a fully lit up neon sign of an over-sized orange, which from 6 o’clock in the evening climbs up the facade of the Intercontinental Hotel, to be dropped at midnight to huge applause and cheering. This is also when the fireworks start, so be sure to head to Miami Beach early to get a good view of both.
Miami Beach © k_paulinka
Mexico City has an annual street festival warming up the locals right up until midnight. You should also expect a grape shortage across the city, as it is a Mexican tradition to eat a grape at each of the twelve chimes of the clock that ring in a new year. If you are staying at a nearby coastal resort, then make sure to visit one of Mexico’s electric beach parties. Enjoy your grapes while watching fireworks set off across the city and find some fireworks of your own to contribute your own fizzes, bangs and pops.
Mexico City © ToñoO
Boston is a great location for families to see an amazing fireworks display. While Public Garden is where Boston’s families traditionally gather to see the impressive fireworks that shoot up over the city at midnight, you don’t have to brave the cold temperatures or keep the kids up past their bed times as nearby Hampton Beach has its own firework display from 8 o’clock in the evening.
Boston © lukevu
Wherever you are in the world, and whatever the size of the fireworks display you are watching, we wish you a prosperous, exciting and travel-filled 2013.
First image © nikicorny