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How to Be Irish All Year: St. Patrick’s Day Parades & Beyond

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St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that originally paid tribute to the bishop who introduced Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century, has evolved into a celebration of all things Irish.

More than 34 million U.S. residents claim Irish ancestry, according to a U.S. census poll. That’s more than four times the population of The Republic of Ireland. Keeping that in mind, it’s no wonder New York City host the world’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade with more than 2 million expected revelers. Not far behind, Boston, where one-fourth of its residents claim Irish ancestry, host the second-largest St. Patrick’s Day parade.

But New York and Boston aren’t the only spots to visit. Orbitz Senior Editor Jeanenne Tornatore also recommends Chicago, Savannah and St. Louis. Chicago has famously made a tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green each year to honor St. Patrick’s Day.  Like Chicago, Savannah also has made a tradition of greening water. In celebration of its deep Irish heritage, it ceremoniously dyes the water of the Forsyth Park Fountain green every year. St. Louis will createan Irish Village presented by Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark in Kiener Plaza. Visitors can expect an Irish-themed entertainment area where they can eat, shop and listen to live music.

Delphi and Fin Lough, IrelandFor those who want to keep the luck of the Irish going beyond St. Patrick’s Day, the Celtic Thunder Cruise, offered November 2 through November 7, promises the ultimate Celtic experience. Transforming the Carnival Victory into a Celtic celebration, passengers can enjoy live shows from the Celtic Thunder band and traditional Irish band Goitse, amongst other artists. Irish dance choreographer Belinda Murphy will offer dance lessons as well as a viewing of her new show, Celtic Rhythm. Departing from Miami, arriving in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and Grand Cayman the Celtic Thunder Cruise keeps Irish culture alive and strong outside of St. Patrick’s Day.

However, if you’re lucky enough to travel to the Emerald Isle, the country as a whole is celebrating all things Irish in 2013 and has invited the world to join. The Gathering, as it’s known, offers information on hundreds of festivals, reunions, weddings, sporting events and anything else to do with Irish culture. Events are posted on The Gathering’s website and most are open to the public.

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday the world over can celebrate, but the culture, heritage and history can be learned, enjoyed and explored all year around.

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By Irene Moore for