17 ways that St Patrick’s Day was celebrated in 2021

St Patrick’s Day is known worldwide for its colourful parades and boisterous social gatherings. This year, with so many countries under lockdown restrictions, it was a different affair.

But Irish people around the world found innovative ways to celebrate and get into the spirit. Using everything from drones, live video and drive-through formats, here are just some of the ways St Patrick’s Day was marked in 2021.

1. Drones above Dublin’s docklands

On March 17th, a swarm of 500 drones took to the sky to perform a light show that featured green shamrocks, celtic designs and Irish dancers. It took place in the night sky above Dublin’s Samuel Beckett Bridge and ended with a ‘Happy St Patrick’s Day’ message.

The ‘Orchestra of Light’, which was organised by Tourism Ireland, Dublin City Council and St Patrick’s Festival, was streamed live for viewers around the globe.

2. Walking trails for all ages

For St Patrick’s Day, the tourism board in Dublin, Ohio set up a self-guided street gallery tour. Works by four local artists were spread throughout the city’s streets. Each one was inspired by scenes of Dublin, Ireland. For children, the city’s Irish Fairy Door trail was expanded too.

3. A touching tribute to frontline workers

The London Irish Centre ran a series of virtual events under the theme ‘London Le Chéile’ – or London Together. It aimed to capture the spirit shown by London’s Irish community throughout the pandemic.

The centre, which itself has been delivering food parcels, meals and books to those at risk, made sure to pay tribute to Irish frontline workers.

Featuring famous faces like Angela Scanlon, Dermot O’Leary and Imelda May, its main event also shone a light on the city’s young musicians.

4. A call for green fingers

This year, the Green Roots Project asked children to do something truly green for St Patrick’s Day. Using the hashtag, people submitted photos of tree planting and rubbish picking as they exchanged their plastic shamrocks for real ones.

5. A traditional parade in Auckland

New Zealand’s largest city was one of the few places able to hold a traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade this year. Under a beating sun, members of the Irish diaspora walked behind their county flags. There was facepainting, balloons, Irish dancers and the only dodgy beards to be seen were just held on with elastic string.

The images shared online resulted in mixed feelings of nostalgia, envy and pride among the Irish in countries that remained under lockdown.

6. Cooking lessons in Lafayette, Louisiana

For its sixth year of celebrations, the Celtic Bayou Festival arranged a series of online events to keep people entertained at home. Its Facebook Live schedule included classes on making soda bread, Guinness stew, Irish coffee and other cocktails. Members of the Louisiana Celtic Connection shared – and debated – their favourite Irish films too.

The week-long schedule of events ended with the winners of the red hair and freckles competition being unveiled.

7. Inspiring messages from abroad