London is arguably the cultural hotspot of the United Kingdom, welcoming people from as far as Cape Town and Tokyo, to those just across the water in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Irish culture has a vibrant, enchanting life of its own which will manifest exponentially on 17 March – the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St Patrick’s Day, otherwise known as the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration which among many other things is well-known excuse for a cracking party and a festive night-out filled with laughter, green clothing and a lot of singing. If you are utilising the best London hotel deals, then you already halfway to a fantastic St Patrick’s Day in London – follow this guide and you will be sure to make it to 100% and beyond.
St Patrick’s Day Festival
Traditionally, the date of St Paddy’s Day stays the same given its significance in relation to the death of Saint Patrick. But nobody can really get into the full Irish jig and swing of things on a Tuesday (which is 17 March 2020). So, the big festival that takes place in Trafalgar Square will take place on the Sunday (15 March 2020) to ensure everyone can embrace the celebrations with open arms and hopefully, with the luck of the Irish, be free of a hangover at work on Monday! The festival finishes at 6pm, which gives everyone enough time to get to bed in time to make that possible (…or, you know, keep the party going!)
This year is the 18th year that the Mayor of London’s St. Patrick’s Day festival will take place, and it remains the biggest celebration of its kind in London. A parade of 75,000 people strong ought to get you in the mood for a hop, a skip, a Guiness and a cheer, and it really showcases the love and community that Londoners can bring to the party when the occasion is right. Not to mention, hosting the event in Trafalgar Square makes this infinitely inclusive and diverse, given how central and accessible the area is, whether you are staying in West Kensington or at Brewery London City Hotel in Barbican.
If the previous paragraph was the first you have heard of Guinness, then you have a lot to learn before St Patrick’s Day, young grasshopper. Guinness is a dark Irish dry stout that originated in the Arthur Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate, Dublin, in 1759. It is one of the most commonly known Irish drinks in the UK, as well as the sponsor for the 6 Nations Rugby, in which Ireland participates. Unfortunately, there is no real way of knowing whether you are going to like it until you have tasted it – it gathers mixed reactions and is either adored or despised by its drinkers, somewhat like Marmite. Fortunately, there is no better day to test out which of those people you are than on St Patrick’s Day, so here are a few Irish pubs that will gladly pour you one.
The Tipperary in Temple is close to a number of luxury hotels for families, but it is walking distance from both Circle and District line stops, Temple and Blackfriars – so you have no excuse not to visit, wherever you are coming from. Think dark wood panelling, Irish pub fare and, of course, plenty pints of Guinness. Philomena’s Irish Sports Bar & Kitchen is great for Irish pub-vibes all through the year, but it is particularly rousing during rugby (they have it up on the big screen) as well as on St Paddy’s Day. The Porterhouse in Covent Garden is another top choice, especially if you want to eat and drink in a traditional, rustic atmosphere. If you want to get in on the Irish slang, try ordering the “Black Stuff” and see whether they know what you are on about!
If you are looking for a half-pint of Guinness (though really is not recommended on this jolly day), do not call it a “baby Guinness”, whatever you do. A Baby Guinness is a type of shot containing Irish cream, Black Sambuca and Coffee Liqueur.
It is not an ultimate guide to anything if it does not include the meal – the following Irish Stew can be ordered at the pubs listed under Guinness, as well as banging culinary institutions like The Claddagh Ring in North London’s Hendon, and The Cock Tavern in Somers Town. But before you head off or order your Guinness and meal, you need to know what constitutes as Irish food! Irish Stew is a classic, hearty meal that the country is often associated with – it should be rich, piping hot and served with lot of veggies and potatoes. If you are being a traditionalist about it, you ought to have it with kid goat – if that does not appeal to you, purists would probably accept you having mutton as an alternative. This is especially useful given that most London restaurants will probably offer this option.
Another classic Irish choice is Boxty. In older times and therefore making up the base of a lot of Irish cuisine, the population survived off of the growth and consumption of potatoes. So, potatoes are included in a lot of Irish meals, including Boxty the potato-based pancake! Bonus: you can order Boxty at The Jugged Hare, the restaurant at City Hotel London.
Whatever you do, do not forget that the theme for the day is “GREEN!” and the activity for the day is “FUN!”, so make sure you are wearing something to show your support, be it a scarf or a full-blown leprechaun suit – but make sure there is room to dance in it! With that in tow, head to any of these items on the London St Paddy’s Day line-up and you are ready to kick things off with all the luck of the Irish!