Our guide to St. Patrick’s Day in the City of Brotherly Love is a “how-to” for having a great time.
Spring is right around the corner, which means it will soon be time to break out the green and map out your pub crawl for St. Patrick’s Day. Lucky for us, Philadelphia has a rich history when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (heck, we spend two weekends leading up to March 17th just getting ready!)
Draught Lines is here to help you get the most out of your Philly-specific St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Erin go Bragh!
If you’re looking to roll with the crowd and not worry about planning or driving – the Erin Express is for you. A 30-year Philadelphia tradition, this bus tour shuttles among Philadelphia bars on the two consecutive weekends leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Originally organized by the owners of Cavanaugh’s and Smokey Joe’s, the Erin Express is totally free! Buses stop at each bar on the list every 15 minutes. Check out the website for the itinerary and simply stop by a participating bar to hop on the bus!
A St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Philadelphia
This year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade will be held on Sunday, March 15th. Rain or shine, this parade has been a Philadelphia tradition since 1771. (New York City claims to have had the first parade in 1763, but St. Augustine, Florida did it first in 1601.) Starting at 20th and JFK, stake out your parade viewing spot near City Hall or along Market Street, as the parade makes its way to Delaware Ave.
DRAUGHT LINES OFFICIAL PUB CRAWL
After spending the weekends leading up to the big day on the Erin Express and cheering on your fellow Philadelphians in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, it’s time for the Draught Lines pub crawl!
With its close proximity to City Hall and the official parade route, we’ll be starting our day at Tir na nÓg. This Center City favorite opened 15 years ago and it serves up traditional Irish food 7 days a week. “We like to make a whole week out of St. Patrick’s Day,” says owner James Moore. “We have live music, pub quizzes and traditional Irish dancing. It’s not to be missed.”
Next, we head south to Fadó, at 15th and Locust streets. According to manager Dolores Kenny, Fadó was established in 1996 by a small group of Irish entrepreneurs who came to the US in hopes of bringing the best of Dublin to Philadelphia. “We have it all here. You can get lost in our nooks and crannies, just as you would in a traditional bar in Ireland.” With a roaring fireplace and unmatched hospitality, Fadó (which is Gaelic for “long ago”) is a must for any St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl.
A quick jog to the other side of Broad Street brings us into prime Irish pub territory, with some of Philly’s best haunts within just a few blocks of each other. St. Patrick’s Day isn’t complete without a few pints upstairs at Fergie’s. An Irish immigrant who moved to Philly in his early 20’s, Fergus “Fergie” Carey is a bonafide “Phil-ebrity” and has been at the helm of Fergie’s Pub for 25 years. Then pop into Finn McCool’s to try one of their 17 beers on draught, which are mainly Irish, Belgian and German microbrews.
Around the corner is the award-winning pub, Moriarty’s, once you’re inside, you’ll see why. Housed in a building that dates back to 1830, Moriarty’s walls are lined with historic pub artwork and hand-crafted woodwork. While not exactly “traditional” Irish fare, their wings are some of the best Philly has to offer, having won a coveted Best of Philly award from Philadelphia Magazine.
A brisk walk down Walnut will do some good at this point, working off the pub food and pints by crossing Broad once again. A stroll near Rittenhouse Square brings us to our final two stops for the day. First up, The Bards – a no-frills, classic Philly pub that pays homage to some of Ireland’s greatest literary minds. Manager Kristen Muldoon hopes The Bards gives Philadelphians a real taste of Ireland. “In Ireland, the local pub is a focal point where people meet to converse, to entertain each other, to share a meal and to celebrate,” says Muldoon. “That’s what The Bards is all about.”
And what better place to wrap up a day of Irish pubs than THE Irish Pub at 20th and Walnut. For 37 years, owner Mark O’Connor’s landmark establishment has served up Irish pub fare with an American twist. One twist is the absence of Guinness. “We like selling beers that are made a little closer to home,” says manager Mary Hansbury. “So, we usually have Sly Fox O’Reilly’s Stout instead.” Just like Guinness, Sly Fox’s Irish-style dry stout is always poured with nitrogen for a rich, creamy pint. O’Connor agrees, “I always tell our customers, ‘If you don’t like it, the beer is on me,’ and I haven’t had to buy a beer yet!”