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St Patrick's Day in the United Kingdom

St Patrick's Day occurs on March 17. It is a national holiday in Ireland and commemorates one of its patron saints, St Patrick. In the United Kingdom, it is celebrated in Irish pubs and in cities, such as Nottingham and London where many people with an Irish background live.

Is St Patrick's Day a Public Holiday?

St Patrick's Day is a public holiday in Northern Ireland, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

The color green and images of the clover are often seen on St Patrick's Day.

©iStockphoto.com/donna rae moratelli

What Do People Do?

March 17 is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland. The degree to which people celebrate St Patrick's Day varies according to their religious and political affiliations. Those, who believe that Northern Ireland should remain part of the United Kingdom, do not generally celebrate the day. Those, who believe that Northern Ireland should become part of a United Ireland often celebrate St Patrick's Day. A large parade is held in Belfast but the level of public funding it receives depends on which political parties control the local council.

March 17 is just a normal day for many people in England, Scotland and Wales. They go to school or work as normal, and do not hold or attend any special events. Some may go for a drink in their local Irish pub at lunch time, after work or in the evening. However, in some towns and cities, particularly those with large Irish populations, parades and other large scale events are organized.

A weekend of celebrations is organized in Nottingham. These include a parade, children's workshops, an arts festival and performances by well-known Irish musicians. There is also a parade, attended by many thousands of people in Birmingham. An Irish festival lasting three days is held in Liverpool.

A whole week of celebrations is organized around St Patrick's Day in London. These include a parade and a festival held close to, but not always on, March 17. The parade visits Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden and the festival are held in Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Together, the parade and festival allow people to experience many aspects of Irish culture including food, crafts, dance and music.

Public Life

St Patrick's Day is not a public holiday in England, Wales or Scotland. In these three parts of the United Kingdom, schools, stores, businesses and other organizations are open as usual. Public transport systems run to their normal timetables. Local events, such as parades, can cause some local disruption to traffic. If you think this may affect you, it is a good idea to check the local press for details.

St Patrick's Day is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland. Schools and many organizations are closed. Stores and other businesses may be open or closed. Public transport systems may run on holiday timetables. There may be some local disruption to traffic due to parades or other events. The bank holiday falls on the following Monday if March 17 falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

Background

St Patrick is one of Ireland's patron saints. He is believed to have died on March 17 in or around the year 493. He grew up in mainland Britain, but spent time in Ireland as a young man and later as a missionary. According to popular legend, he is buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, County Down, and banished all snakes from Ireland. However, it is thought that there have been no snakes in Ireland since the last ice age. The “snakes” that St Patrick banished from Ireland, may refer to pagan worshipers of snake gods.

The date of St Patrick's Day is fixed as March 17. It is occasionally be moved by the authorities of the Catholic Church. This happened in 1940, so that the celebrations would not fall on Palm Sunday, and in 2008 to avoid Holy Monday, the last Monday before Easter Sunday. These changes do not often affect non-church celebrations. In particular, the bank holiday in Northern Ireland is still held on March 17 or the Monday afterwards if March 17 falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

St Patrick's Day was originally a religious occasion to mark the life and work of St Patrick. In 1903 it became a public holiday in the whole of Ireland. Pubs were not allowed to open on March 17 until the 1970s. It is only recently that St Patrick's Day has become a secular holiday.

About St Patrick's Day in other countries

Read more about St Patrick's Day.

St Patrick's Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2015TueMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2016ThuMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2017FriMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2018SatMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2018MonMar 19Day off for St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2019SunMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2019MonMar 18Day off for St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2020TueMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2021WedMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2022ThuMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2023FriMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2024SunMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2024MonMar 18Day off for St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland
2025MonMar 17St Patrick's DayLocal Bank HolidayNorthern Ireland

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