25 Fun and Festive St. Patrick's Day Activities for the Whole Family

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For nearly 2,000 years, the Irish have observed the Roman Catholic feast of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, but nowadays, those celebrations look very different than they once did, especially here in America. In fact, many of the St. Patrick's Day traditions that you know and love today actually originated in America rather than on the Emerald Isle. Regardless, what really matters on March 17 is having a good time, and we're here with plenty of St. Patrick's Day activities to help you do just that.

Before you worry that you're celebrating the holiday all wrong, take it as a good sign that Ireland has embraced many of these St. Paddy's Day ideas that started in America, such as parades, corned beef, and even green beer (though it took a while for Ireland to come around to that last tradition). From making delicious Irish recipes to exchanging cute St. Patrick's Day gifts, there's really no wrong way to celebrate all things Irish on March 17.

And if you're not sure how to spend your day this year, then here are some of the best St. Patrick's Day activities and games that kids and adults of all ages can enjoy, including watching Irish movies, making cute holiday crafts, and spreading the luck of the Irish with some clever memes.

st patricks day activities table with green cupcakes, cookies, cups, and necklaces
There’s a St. Patrick’s Day activity for everyone — no matter your interests or age.Getty

1. Bake soda bread.

Irish soda bread originated in Ireland back in the early 1800s, and it allowed people who didn't have an oven (which was most people at the time) to make bread. Nowadays, it's much easier to recreate a traditional soda bread recipe with the use of an oven, as long as you have some flour, baking soda, buttermilk, salt, and a few other simple ingredients on hand.

2. Wear green.

Of course, March 17 can't come and go without you donning at least one piece of green clothing. Whether you're trying to avoid being pinched or want an excuse to wear your green pleather pants, consider embracing the colorful tradition, even with a simple green accessory. Be sure to check out our St. Patrick's Day outfit ideas for cute green ensembles you can rock for the holiday.

3. Serve an Irish meal.

You'll find tons of delicious Irish-inspired recipes out there to make your celebration even more authentic, like a traditional beef stew infused with two cups of Guinness or corned beef and cabbage with a mustard glaze.

4. Have a shamrock cookie decorating contest.

Decorating cookies can be a part of any holiday, not just Christmas. Gather your kids or friends for a shamrock cookie decorating contest, with the winner getting bragging rights (and maybe an extra cookie or two after dinner). Make sure you invest in a shamrock cookie cutter and green icing ahead of time, as well as plenty of green sprinkles.

st patricks day activities plate of shamrock cookies with green icing
Cookie decorating on its own is a great time. Add a friendly competition to it, and you’ve got yourself an all-day activity.Getty

5. Play a St. Patrick's Day-themed game.

No matter your age, there are St. Patrick's Day-themed games for everyone to enjoy. From St. Paddy's Bingo for the whole family to green drinking dice for the adults, everyone's bound to find a game that'll keep them laughing and competing for hours.

6. Make green slime.

Slime on its own can be really fun — but making your own slime? That takes the fun to the next level. You can watch the goo come to life in front of you, and if you invest in a slime kit that comes with a bunch of colors, then you don't have to limit the fun to St. Paddy's Day. You can also check out Delish's St. Patrick's Day slime tutorial if you want to make DIY slime from ingredients you probably already have at home.

7. Attend a St. Patrick's Day parade.

St. Patrick's Day parades are held throughout the country, both in major cities and small towns, and you can do an online search to see whether there's a parade taking place near you this year. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hindered some in-person parades last year, these annual celebrations will return in 2023. Chicago, New York City, and Boston are just a few cities known to hold notorious St. Paddy's Day parades.

st patricks day activities st patricks day parade with performers holding green flags
Attend a parade in person or find one to watch from home to get you in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.Getty

8. Whip up a shamrock peppermint shake.

Don't limit your St. Paddy's Day drinks to alcohol. We've got a delicious peppermint shake recipe for you to try, and with some vanilla, ice cream, peppermint, and green food coloring, you can have a festive treat that'll put McDonald's Shamrock Shake to shame.

9. Try a St. Patrick's Day craft.

Your little leprechauns will love making shamrock-shaped plates, wreaths, and hats using affordable materials. The best part? Your finished products will leave you with cute holiday decorations to spread around the house.

10. Bake something green.

Fact: Everything tastes better when you turn it green. Start the day off with green velvet silver dollar pancakes and end it with sweet Lucky Charm cookies for the perfect way to ring in the colorful holiday. Just be sure you're using non-toxic green food coloring for your creations and not any ol' green dye.

11. Watch an Irish movie.

Move over, Christmas movies — it's time for St. Patrick's Day movies to shine. Spend the day or night watching a fun St. Paddy's Day movie at home (and make sure you accompany your viewing with some green snacks, like some tasty Leprechaun Chow).

12. Make St. Patrick's Day cards.

Cards are one of the easiest ways to brighten someone's day, even if it's for a holiday that doesn't normally dishing out cards. Make some St. Paddy's Day cards for your grandparents, the people at your church, or the kids at the local hospital, and you'll bring smiles to many faces on March 17.

st patrick's day activities hands cutting out shamrock shapes from green colored construction paper
Get as creative as you like with your DIY St. Patrick’s Day cards, or keep it simple and festive for younger kids.Getty

13. Plan a scavenger hunt.

Test your luck this year by setting up a scavenger hunt with a few friends, family, and the kids. You can hide treats around the neighborhood with clues, and who knows — you just may win a pot of gold! And if you're not up for the challenge of putting together your own St. Patrick's Day-themed game, then you can always download a pre-made scavenger hunt for your crew to try.

14. Brush up on your Irish-American history.

According to the 2019 United States Census Bureau, 30.4 million Americans claim Irish ancestry, which is nearly 10 percent of U.S. residents. Of course, you don't have to be someone with Irish ancestry in order to learn about the history of Saint Patrick and the people of Ireland. There are a ton of online resources for learning about Irish culture and history, such as Cultural Atlas and Irish Central, and there's no better time of year to dive in.

15. Sample some Irish poetry.

Ireland has birthed some of history's most renowned writers, and if you're not up for challenge of wading through James Joyce's Ulysses (which is a notoriously dense novel), then you can get a taste of Ireland's rich literary history through poetry instead. You can even get inspired for free (and on the go) by listening to the audio works of W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, and Samuel Beckett on Spotify.

16. Learn to cook like an Irishman.

Grab your partner or a friend and have your own at-home Irish cooking class, following along with an online tutorial. And if you prefer step-by-step directions, then you can get a copy of My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve, which features classic comfort food Irish recipes — like Irish stew and shepherd's pie — from an experienced chef.

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17. Listen to Irish music.

Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like traditional Irish folk music, complete with plenty of pipes and fiddles. On March 17, throw on some classic Irish tunes and perform a jig in your living room with the whole family. You can listen to a three-hour compilation of some of the best Irish music here.

18. Give to a green cause.

Concern Worldwide is one of the largest international charities based in Ireland, providing food, shelter, and healthcare to those in need. Consider making a contribution at ConcernGifts.org, where you can donate anything from farming goods to educational tools to workers, families, and communities who could use a helping hand.

19. Sip a Guinness.

Guinness really is the official drink of St. Patrick's Day, and whether or not you're usually into the stout beer, go ahead and try a pint if you never have. You may just find that the creamy, delicious beer is your new favorite. Another option: Get creative with a Guinness-infused recipe, such as beef and Guinness pies or chocolate stout Whoopie pies.

st patricks day activities drink guinness
Guinness is the drink of choice on St. Patrick’s Day. Brian Ach - Getty Images

20. Enjoy an Irish coffee.

If you're simply not a Guinness fan, then Irish coffees are the tastiest (and most festive) cocktails to drink on March 17. Try The Pioneer Woman's delicious Irish coffee recipe, which features brown sugar for extra sweetness. There's a healthy amount of Irish whiskey in here to keep you toasty, so make sure to savor it slowly.

21. Learn Irish dancing.

Irish step dance is style of performance dance with roots in traditional Irish dance, characterized by quick feet and very little upper body movement — and believe it or not, it's even more difficult than it looks. However, if you're in the mood to break a sweat and try something new, then an Irish step class is a fun way to get out of your comfort zone on St. Paddy's. There are plenty of online how-to videos for beginners that'll show you a few moves, so you can learn from the comfort of your own home.

22. Taste some whiskeys.

Irish whiskey is hugely popular these days. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, sales of the drink generated over $4 billion in revenue in 2021, so if you're not already sipping it, then you're missing out. And could there be a better time to try out the trend than St. Patrick's Day? We think not. Pick up a few bottles from your local liquor store and prepare to become the whiskey connoisseur you always knew you could be.

23. Search for four-leaf clovers.

Take the kids on an adventure in search of lucky four-leaf clovers. They'll be endlessly entertained searching through a clover field to find the lucky ones, and it's a good way to get outside and get the imagination wandering. To make your excursion a little educational, you can even school your kids on the history of four-leaf clovers and why they're traditionally associated with good luck.

st patricks day young boy crouching in grass looking for a four leaf clover
Even if you don’t have a full-blown clover field near you, you could probably find three- or four-leaf clovers in any park.Getty

24. Listen to some of your favorite Irish singers.

Ireland is home to many famous singers, and a great way to pay tribute to the holiday is to dance around your house or belt out some tunes sung by your favorite Irish artists. Some singers to put on your St. Paddy's Day playlist: Hozier, Enya, Niall Horan, Bono, Sinéad O'Connor, and Van Morrison, to name just a few.

25. Give yourself a festive manicure.

Going all out with some festive St. Patrick's Day nails will have you feeling extra lucky come March 17. Stick to a solid green, or paint on some rainbows, clovers, or perhaps a pot of gold if you really want to make a statement. Oh, and you'll find plenty of St. Patrick's Day nail art decals out there to help you complete your look if you don't have the patience to paint a tiny shamrock yourself.

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