Each year on March 17th, millions of people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in one way or another. Crowds of people wearing green flood the streets of some of the largest cities in the country to drink, dance, and celebrate. A study from Forbes shows that just over 30 million Americans have some Irish heritage, but you don’t have to be Irish to partake in the festivities.
If you’re looking to do something fun for St. Paddy’s Day this year, we’ve got a full list of St. Patrick’s Day activities for adults. You can gather your friends together at your place and host a party or you can head out to one of the local events happening in your area. With so many options, you’ll be able to find something fun on this list.
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What is St. Patrick’s Day?
Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is St. Patrick’s Day? It is the anniversary of the death of Saint Patrick and has been observed as a religious holiday for the Irish for over 1,000 years. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was brought to Ireland as a slave in his teenage years, but he escaped. He then returned to the country years later and is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people.
There are various stories, many of which are impossible to prove, but they’ve added to his popularity within the Irish culture over the years. One popular story is that he used to explain the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit using the leaves of the Irish clover. This is why a shamrock is such a popular symbol for this holiday.
In Ireland, the holiday has been celebrated with a church service in the morning and then a feast in the afternoon. It wasn’t until the homesick Irish soldiers marched together through the streets of New York City in the late 1700s that the idea of a parade for the holiday became popular. In fact, the St. Patrick’s Day Day Parade in New York City became official in 1848 and is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States.
Now, there are world-famous St. Patrick’s Day celebrations throughout the US. Chicago dyes the river green each year using a vegetable dye. Boston, Saint Paul, and Philadelphia have large Irish communities that have parades and festivals. New Orleans has a festive parade that draws many visitors. And New York City remains a popular destination.
The chances are good that your city or town has some sort of celebration as well, but you can always create your own with the following suggestions.
St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Adults
1. Throw a St. Paddy’s Day Party!
If you want to throw your own St. Patrick’s Day party, we’ve got some ideas to help you plan it and get a little creative with the theme of the holiday.
Go All Out with Your St. Patrick’s Day Decorations
Decorations can range from over the top and covering every surface of your house to simple little touches of green. You decide. Four-leaf clovers are popular symbols for St. Patrick’s Day, plus they are symbols of luck. You find tons of printable options or visit a party store and stock up on green lights in the shapes of shamrocks.
Balloons are another great decoration option. Visit the Dollar Store and buy all their green balloons and fill your space with them. Some party stores will have fancy balloons shaped like Leprechauns and Irish clovers.
If you are setting up tables or a buffet for snacks, add some pots of gold for centerpieces. Any black bowls or buckets will do and you can fill them with anything that is yellow—jelly beans, gold-wrapped candies, butterscotch, or for something a little different, use Lucky Charms cereal.
Encourage Everyone to Dress Up
When you send out your invitations (which should be at least three weeks in advance), make sure to specify a dress code. Do you want everyone to come in their fanciest green outfit? Should everyone bring their Leprechaun hats? Are you open to just any type of green clothing? Encourage people to come dressed for the occasion.
Some people even put together a contest to see who can come with the most green on or has the best Leprechaun costume. It’s up to you how much you want people to get into it and if you want to have any kind of costume contest. Just give them notice.
Another fun party idea is to set up a photo booth. Put up some green streamers or a rainbow with some props so people can take pictures in their festive outfits. You can find props at the party store or DIY your own using printables like these.
Make a Good Party Playlist
The key to a good party is music. There are some incredible Irish musicians, so you can make a killer playlist ahead of time to play during your party. Bands like the Dubliners have great tunes for a St. Paddy’s Day playlist. Make sure to add the song, Molly Malone. Other popular Irish bands include The Chieftains. Snow Patrol, the Frames, the Boomtown Rats, Clannad, The Corrs, The Cranberries, B*Witched, and Thin Lizzy. Irish-American bands that are popular worldwide include Gaelic Storm, Flogging Molly, and the Dropkick Murphys.
Some non-Irish artists have songs that are perfect to add. John Mayer has a song called St. Patrick’s Day. Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl is a perfect pop addition. Sprinkle in some party and drinking songs as well, and you’ll be set.
If you want to take an easier route, use one of the prebuilt playlists on Spotify for a great collection of Irish music where you just have to hit play.
Serve a Traditional Irish Meal
You’ve probably heard of the traditional meal of corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day. This combo was popular with the immigrant groups in the past because the ingredients were affordable. You can easily prep the dish and let it cook in a crockpot or dutch oven, so it’s a pretty easy option for hosting. Here’s a classic recipe to try for your first time.
If you want to serve some other main dish options, you can give a Dublin Coddle a try. It’s a layered dish with bacon, pork sausage, and potatoes. A classic Irish stew is easy to make and it’s the national dish of Ireland. Throw together some lamb, potatoes, onions, leeks, and carrots into a pot with some stock and serve up a warm, tasty dish.
Some popular side dishes for an Irish feast include potato soup, braised greens, and shepherd’s pie. If you’re hosting people earlier in the day, it’s customary to have a giant, hearty breakfast of sausage, eggs, and potatoes. Throw in a couple of party favorites like a veggie tray and some finger foods, and you’ll be set.
Get Creative With the Dessert Table
Desserts can be super creative for St. Patrick’s Day. You can make up some Irish Cream cupcakes that incorporate Bailey’s Irish Cream and coffee. Cupcakes are easy to decorate and there are so many options! Start by using green food coloring to make vanilla icing more festive.
Lucky Charms can be used in baking as well, so add some into your Rice Krispie recipe or into some cookies. Many donut shops get creative and make beautiful options for your gathering if it’s earlier in the day. Put plenty of chocolate gold coins out for people to snack on as well.
If you want something more traditional, you can make an Irish fruit cake called Barmbrack. It’s one of the most famous bakery products in Ireland. Bread and butter puddings are also a favorite if you have leftover bread. It could be perfect for the day after St. Patrick’s Day if you are recovering.
Serve Green Drinks
It’s pretty hard to have a St. Paddy’s Day party without any beer. Pick up a case or two of a light beer like a Pilsner or Lager and then pour it into pitchers. Add a few drops of green food coloring until it’s the color you want. Make sure to keep the pitchers in a refrigerator until you are serving so the beer stays cold.
For the non-beer drinkers, there are plenty of other creative cocktails and mocktails you can serve. Make Shamrock Shakes, like the one in this knock-off McDonald’s recipe, and you can add a little alcohol to make it a boozy shake. Irish coffee is another popular option with hot coffee and booze. Guinness makes decent float if you add ice cream and that can be a great dessert and drink option at the same time.
For more green options, make some Jell-O shots with a green flavor. Add some gold sprinkles to the top to make them incredibly photogenic. You even try to make Jell-O shots that look like the Irish flag. Green food coloring can be added to any cocktail, so you can serve green champagne or green margaritas, whatever you please.
St. Patrick’s Day Games for Adults
This list of fun games includes ideas perfectly suited for a party, a night with a few friends, or even a St. Paddy’s Day date. We’ve got outdoor suggestions and recommendations for indoor St. Patrick’s Day activities for adults, as well!
2. Quiz Your Friends Using Trivia About Ireland and St. Patrick’s Day
If you’re hosting a party, trivia can be a fun icebreaker! Even if you’re entertaining a few friends, this gives you the opportunity to share some fun information about the holiday. Come up with questions about Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day traditions, or even just the color green.
Here are a couple of examples to get you started:
- St. Patrick’s Day used to be a dry holiday. What decade did it become a big drinking day? Answer: 1970s
- What musical instrument is featured on the Guinness logo? Answer: The harp
- Green didn’t become associated with the holiday until the 17th century. What color was originally associated with St. Patrick’s Day? Answer: Blue
- What is the capital of Ireland? Answer: Dublin
- About how many pints of Guinness are served on March 17th each year? Answer: Approximately 13 million pints
- Where was Saint Patrick born? Answer: Scotland or Wales
- How old was actress Saoirse Ronan when she earned her first Oscar nomination? Answer: 13 years old
- In Irish stories, what did St. Patrick rid the country of? Answer: Snakes
Mix up categories and trivia topics so everyone can shine at something. You can even offer prizes or chocolate gold coins for each right answer!
If you’ve got friends around the world or can’t get together in person this year, throw a virtual St. Paddy’s Day bash! Contact the game guides at Let’s Roam for a custom version of their popular Virtual Game Night.
3. Play Irish Games
Many games originated or were popularized on the Emerald Isle. Play a board game like Fidchell or Brandubh, set up for the ancient game of Skittles, or get the whole gang together and head outdoors for a rousing game of Rounders! There are more options, and you can find the basics at this Irish games FAQ.
4. Do a Gold Coin Toss
Utilize the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and make it into a game. You can use any kind of gold coin or small yellow items. You’ll line up the competitors behind a line and they’ll compete to see who can toss the objects into the pot at the end of the rainbow. If you have a bean bag set up, you can use that and just decorate the bag set up to go with your holiday theme.
5. Set Up a Scavenger Hunt with a Pot of Gold at the End
Another fun idea is to set up a St. Patrick’s Day scavenger hunt. You could hide shamrocks or leave clues to help people find a “pot of gold” at the finish line. Team people up with one another to work in teams or make it an individual effort. Create some clever clues that lead participants on a hunt, and give your party guests a challenge!
6. Play Hot Potato with Traditional Celtic Music
The Potato Famine in Ireland is something many of us learned about in school. While the famine was no joking matter, to this day, potatoes are often associated with the Irish.
Play a game of hot potato using Celtic music where the person holding the potato when the music stops loses and has to take a shot. It’s like musical chairs, but this is more fitting for the holiday.
You don’t actually need a hot potato to play. You can grab any potato or object that you can call a potato, something to play the music on, and drinks for the losers. It’s a fun and simple drinking game that will have everyone yelling and laughing.
7. Host a Guinness Pouring Competition
Did you know that there is only one correct way to pour a pint of Guinness? Invite your guests to give it their best shot and have some judges determine who did it the best. You can give away Guinness pint glasses as prizes for the people who are able to pour them the correct way.
Guinness pouring can be a fun activity for everyone to watch and cheer on, plus it’s quite on-point with the theme. If you need some instruction, you can watch one of the many videos online that walk you through the steps. It might be more entertaining to have everyone do it with no prior instructions to see if anyone is already in the know.
8. Challenge Guests to a Blindfolded Drawing Contest
A four-leaf clover is kind of a funky shape, but it’s an important symbol of luck, especially for the Irish. One fun way to incorporate those into a St. Paddy’s Day event is to challenge people to draw one blindfolded. See how close they can get to the actual shape when they can’t see where their marker or pen is going. You can display everyone’s attempts on the wall for others to enjoy.
9. Hold an Irish Dance Contest
Have you ever seen traditional Irish dancers? They can move their feet at such rapid paces! Show an instructional video and see how many people are able to follow along. YouTube has a lot of free options available like this how-to video for beginners. Who can make it from beginning to end without getting tripped up?
Even if everyone makes a fool of themselves trying to keep up and not fall down, it will definitely make for some great memories. Who knows? You might find the next Riverdance star in your group!
10. Play Some Classic Pub Games
In the pubs of Europe, games like Ring Toss and Darts are very popular. In Ireland, you’re likely to see a game called “Rings.” This ring tossing game is simple in theory, but not as easy as it may look, especially if you’ve knocked back a few pints!
Purchase a traditional wooden Ring board, or try to make your own. The object is to take turns tossing rings onto marked pegs to earn points. The player with the highest score wins!
Even if you don’t play games exactly as they do in Irish pubs, we’re sure that you’ll have a terrific time playing any pub games with your favorite people.
St. Patrick’s Day Activities Around Town
If you want to partake in the fun, but don’t necessarily want to host guests or organize an event, look for St. Paddy’s Day activities available in your area!
11. Head to a Local Parade to Celebrate
If you live near one of the cities that hosts a huge annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, that can be a great option. Make a plan with friends or family to get there early and grab a prime viewing spot. Even if you aren’t in New York City, Chicago, or Boston, your city probably has some kind of celebration or festival you can check out.
12. Check for Live Irish Music
Irish music comes in many styles and genres, but Celtic punk is a popular genre that you would probably recognize. You could check to see if there is any live music you can get out and enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day or the days close to the holiday. It might be a long shot, but it would be a fun way to celebrate.
13. Find a Spot with Guinness On Tap
Many bars have Guinness on tap and you can enjoy it on nitro. Just make sure that your bartender knows the proper way to pour a Guinness because otherwise, you could end up with way too much foam (also known as head.) Belly up at the bar and make a few new friends or meet some of your people out. It’s always nice to have a drink with others and share cheers.
Low-Key St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Adults
Not everything about St. Patrick’s Day needs to involve heavy drinking and partying! You can definitely celebrate the holiday with a more low-key approach on your own or with one or two people.
14. Learn More About Saint Patrick
Spend some time on St. Patrick’s Day learning about the person that the holiday was created to celebrate. There are few books that have been written about the patron saint of Ireland. You can also just spend some time searching the internet for some interesting story. Head to a church service on March 17th and hear what information they share about this saint.
15. Test the Luck of the Irish
You’ve probably heard the term “luck of the Irish,” which comes from the Gold Rush in the US when Irish miners were more successful than other immigrant groups. Consider grabbing a few scratch-off lottery tickets and see how lucky you are!
Want to up the ante? Call your friends, have everyone put in a few dollars, and get some lottery tickets! Be sure to involve Irish friends when you pick the numbers. If … no … when you win, split the pot!
16. Enjoy an Irish Whiskey Tasting
Irish Whiskey is world-famous. Celebrate this tasty drink on St. Patrick’s Day by putting together a taste test. Grab a few types of Irish whiskey and try each one.
Pair your tasting with some Irish soda bread or a charcuterie board, and indulge in some chocolates to bring out the nutty undertones and sweetness found in the liquor.
17. Settle In With Irish Movies or Books
We all love a night to chill with a good book or in front of the TV, and you can still do that on St. Patrick’s Day in a special way! Consider renting a popular Irish movie like Once or Brooklyn. Make your movie night into a marathon by adding more of the best Irish movies of all time.
You can also curl up on the couch and dive into a book that is set in Ireland to feel like you’ve been transported. Some of the most popular include Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and Normal People by Sally Rooney.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
We hope you enjoy these St. Patrick’s Day activities for adults! Get your green clothes out and prepare for a fun party and celebration in any way that you choose to enjoy the holiday.
Don’t forget to use the comment section to let us know how you chose to celebrate.
If you would like some ideas for the whole family or your favorite little leprechauns, check out these fun St. Patrick’s Day activities for kids. There’s a little something for everyone!
Frequently Asked Questions
St. Patrick’s Day activities could have your guests working up an appetite! Plan traditional treats like Irish stew and soda bread. Hearty food will keep people nourished while they drink the night away!