Where to Get Your Irish On in New Orleans

A guide to St. Patrick’s Day parades and parties

It’s no surprise that a party-loving city like New Orleans would have all sorts of fun on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish have been a significant part of Crescent City culture since the early 19th century, and were instrumental in building much of New Orleans’ infrastructure. Although most Irish immigrants arrived following the Great Famine of 1845, the city’s first St. Patrick’s Day celebration was in 1806.

From Pat O'Briens  in the French Quarter to Markeys in the Bywater to Finn McCool's in Mid-City, you’ll find festivities taking place in pretty much every bar citywide on March 17. Head to the Irish Channel neighborhood early in the day for the giant block parties at Tracey’s and Parasol’s, where partiers fuel up for the full day ahead.

Parasol's New Orleans (©Shawn Fink)
Parasol’s is ground zero for St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans. (©Shawn Fink)

On March 16 at 1:30 pm, the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Parade rolls on Magazine Street, between Napoleon and Jackson streets. It’s a raucous time with float riders tossing produce (cabbage, potatoes, carrots) to the crowds, while members of Irish-American walking clubs, like the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Club and the Emerald Society of New Orleans, parade in kilts, trading paper flowers for kisses.

On St. Pat’s proper the Downtown Irish Club Parade meanders into the French Quarter from the Bywater neighborhood, beginning at 6 pm. Similar to a second line, the parade stops at several different bars along the way before hitting Bourbon Street.

St. Patrick's Day Parade (©Shawn Fink)
Marchers in the Irish Channel’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade trade paper flowers for kisses. (©Shawn Fink)

Not here for St. Patrick’s Day? Not to worry. There are still lots of parades and parties before—and after—to enjoy.

That clamor in the Quarter on March 8? That’s the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club's practice march. Starting at 11 am at Jackson Square, the spirited group stops in at traditional Irish bars in the neighborhood, including Fahy’s Irish Pub, Finnegan’s Easy Irish Pub and Ryan’s Irish Pub. Jim Monaghans St. Patrick's Parade takes to the streets the day before the big blowout (March 15), kicking off at 6 pm from Molly’s at the Market. The annual procession begins and ends at the bar, and features marching groups and riders in mule-drawn carriages. 

St. Patrick’s Day and the Italian celebration of St. Joseph’s Day (March 19) overlap, which is why you’ll see tuxedo-attired gentlemen engage French Quarter crowds March 23 during the Italian-American St. Josephs Parade. The two nationalities meet in nearby Metairie, March 24 for the Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade, while the St. Bernard Irish Italian Islenos Parade in neighboring Chalmette triples the fun April 6 with 42 floats, more than 1,000 riders and 400,000 pounds of produce.

Italian-American Marching Club (©Shawn Fink)
The Italian-American Marching Club kicks off a weekend of fun with a pasta free-for-all. (©Shawn Fink)

Missing St. Patrick’s season altogether? There are plenty of ways to get your Irish on year-round. The Erin Rose is your source for frozen Irish coffee; Finn McCools is the place to catch a football or rugby game over a pint of Guinness; and be sure to check out stunning St. Alphonsus Church, which has served as a community gathering ground and an important part of Irish history in New Orleans since the 1840s.

Big Easy Breweries

What’s St. Patrick’s Day without beer? You’ll find plenty brewed right here in New Orleans.

Enjoy an Irish Channel Stout, named for the neighborhood NOLA Brewing calls home, and grab some great barbecue at the same time. Just up the road, Urban South Brewing offers a family-friendly tasting room with a wide variety of beer, while Courtyard Brewery, a few blocks from the National WWII Museum, brews beer that can’t be found anywhere else in the city. 

NOLA Brewing (©Shawn Fink)
From a light blonde ale to a heavy Irish Channel Stout, NOLA Brewing has a beer for every taste. (©Shawn Fink)

In the French Quarter, German-focused brewpub Crescent City Brewhouse now has a regular IPA on draft, alongside pilsner and schwarzbier. In the Warehouse District, Gordon Biersch is a great place for a freshly brewed glass of suds near Harrah’s Casino.

Crescent City Brewhouse (©Shawn Fink)
Crescent City Brewhouse’s second-floor mezzanine overlooks the brewing tanks in which its suds are made. (©Shawn Fink)

A taste for nanobreweries? In the Marigny, check out Brieux Carré on Decatur Street, right off of Frenchmen, or head to Parleaux Beer Lab, a Bywater neighborhood brewery with small batches of experimental beers and a huge beer garden.