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“Lucky” Bands Can March in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade™ Banner Image

“Lucky” Bands Can March in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade™

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by Rhoda Venture
Performance Trip

On Saint Patrick’s Day, we’re all a little bit Irish! It seems only right, then, to celebrate our collective Irish roots in the city that started it all. Lucky bands can march in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the oldest and largest in the western hemisphere!

How did the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade start?

The first Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City was held on March 17, 1762. For those who need a history refresher, that’s 14 years before the Declaration of Independence was ever signed. Irish immigrants surged into the city (many as indentured servants), bringing their Irish traditions with them. They were homesick for Ireland and rallied the Irish military to march in celebration of the Feast of Saint Patrick. No saxophones or tubas made an appearance, but revelers could hear the sweet sound of bagpipes playing and Irish music being sung. It was the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade anywhere in the world!

When and where is the parade route?

Each year, the parade begins at approximately 11:00 am on 5th Avenue at 44th Street. It winds through the city, eventually ending on 5th Avenue uptown at 79th Street around 4:30 pm. Spectators have the best view along 5th Avenue and will want to arrive early to stake out a great spot.

Is it always on the 17th?

The NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is always on the 17th, unless the 17th falls on a Sunday. In this case, the parade will take place on Saturday, Mach 16th. It has also never been cancelled due to weather, regardless of Mother Nature’s best efforts. Plan accordingly!

Who can take part?

The parade has more than 150,000 participants (and 2 million spectators). EVERYONE marches on foot – there are no floats or motorized vehicles or balloons! That’s one of the reasons bands play such an important role. Marching bands set the cadence for all participants as they make their way along the route.

In addition to marching bands, the parade features college bands, bagpipers, international bands, military bands ad NYPD and FDNY bands. It’s a spectacle of sight and sound in a festive Irish atmosphere!

How can our marching band participate in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade?

Bands from across the United States can apply to march in the parade. Typically, high school marching bands ranging from 60-300 members take part. Directors can request applications directly through the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade website or work with a reputable student tour company to plan a trip. You’ll want to spend more than a day exploring this vibrant city and all it has to offer.

While it’s a little too late to participate in this year’s craic (see what I did there?!), lucky bands can march in the NYC Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in 2021. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until all slots are filled. Irish eyes will smile as your talented marching band shares in a tradition 260 years in the making!

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