Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, South Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Last Updated on December 4, 2016 by

As far as St. Patrick’s Day parades go, Boston has one of the largest. Probably because so many Irish settled here. As I drive along the South Shore I can see why- the country is very similar to Ireland. Areas in Cohasset are very much like the Burren! Since we are in the Boston area for an extended period we are trying to take in as much as we can- the St. Patrick’s Day parade was near the top of my list of “Things That MUST Be Done While in Boston”.


Practically everyone knows of St. Patrick, Ireland’s Patron Saint. March 17 is his feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. But March 17 has another historical significance in Boston. That is the day the British evacuated Boston in 1776. The parade actually winds around Dorchester Heights, a National Historic Park, where a majestic monument stands in honor of the victory. It’s a dual event.

Dorchester Heights affords an amazing view of Boston and has a large, open green for running and playing. One thing to watch for -and I’ve noticed this throughout the Boston area- dog feces are not picked up. We saw many, many people step and sit in piles. {{gack}}

Dorchester Heights Thomas Park

Getting There & Other Tips

Utilize Boston’s fine subway system, the T, to get to South Boston. The parade follows a long route, beginning at the Broadway T station and winding around to the Andrew T station. If you have children along I suggest taking the red line to the Andrew T station and walking to Dorchester Heights- Thomas Park. Follow Dorchester to Telegraph and then head up the hill. You can’t miss it- the monument will guide you. But wear comfortable shoes- the hill is steep!

We arrived quite early as I wasn’t sure what kind of crowds to expect. What I found is that you needn’t arrive early. In fact, if you sit at Dorchester Heights don’t worry about arriving until 1:30pm or so- about half an hour after the official parade start time. It will take at least that long for it to reach the park and the crowds were not bad at all.

The parade is rather long so you may want to bring food if you’re coming in from outside the city. Or stop at Bell’s Market on Dorchester and get a sandwich from their deli/ butcher counter. The meats are fresh and the sandwiches are huge.

You’ll also want to bring beverages. Just be careful how much you drink- there are no public bathrooms at Thomas Park. Luckily we struck up a conversation with some locals who kindly let Brenna use the bathroom in their beautiful townhouse.

Speaking of beverages, you’ll see plenty of people carrying beer and you’ll see many, many drunken people. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of the day. You’ll see more intoxicated people near where the parade begins and after it than you will at the park, which has more families. Police presence was high and we saw no problems.

The Parade

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day. The parade includes the Pipes and Drums from many organizations, school bands, historical and current soldiers, politicians, local businesses and other colorful entries. Beads were tossed out, and a few green lollipops.

Pipes & Drums abound
Pipes & Drums Collage

Soldiers Collage

Apparently there are even a few Celtic Jedi…

501st Legion
Jedi, Storm Troopers & Robots- Oh My

ElvisOf course no parade is complete without an Elvis sighting. His cape prompted Brenna to say, “Look! It’s a superhero!”

And you can’t have St. Patrick’s festivities without a walking Guinness…

As you leave the crowd is enormous; it fills the streets. I would recommend waiting a bit before trying to catch the train out of both the Andrew and Broadway stations; Andrew station was still very busy an hour after the parade ended.

After the parade

Helpful Links

2009 parade details & map
Boston T : Things to do on St Patrick’s Day Make sure you’re dressed properly

If you’re heading to Boston save money seeing the sights!

Boston CityPASS

Things To Do

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