There’s nothing quite like St. Patrick’s Day in Butte, Montana, the most Irish city in America. Glittery green outfits. The distinctive song of bagpipes. Pints and pints and more pints of beer.
Due to its rich history that attracted immigrants from around the world, Butte has the most Irish descendants in the nation, per capita anyways. And the town of 35,000 is proud of that fact — you’ll see “Montana/ Irish Till I Die” shirts amongst the kilts and tweed caps.
And that Irish history is never more obvious than during St. Patrick’s Day every year.
But the locals aren’t the only ones who celebrate Irish culture in downtown Butte. The town makes room for another 30,000 (or more) people from across the country (even world) and the city doubles, sometimes triples in size for the weekend.
The main attraction? The annual parade.
Pipers. Politicians. The heads of labor unions (a nod to Butte’s mining past). Local kids. Irish dancers (both local and national). Irish bands. These groups and more walk the streets of uptown, almost all of which are closed off for the holiday. Mobs of people watch from the sidelines, creating an atmosphere that feels like the entire town is out and celebrating.
Afterward, check out a hurling match between local teams, learn Irish dancing, listen to Irish bands or simply wander the historic city, stopping to enjoy Butte’s delectable food, like chowing down on the classic pasty (a Cornish dish of meat and potatoes) and washing it down with the famous Orphan Girl (an adult root beer float).
As the day fades to night, the festivities can get on the rowdier side. There’s no open container law in the town, so the pints and flasks are flowing all night long.
So no matter how you want to celebrate St. Patrick’s — enjoying Irish culture in an Irish city or simply wanting a rowdy party — Butte, America is the place to be.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Or as the Irish say “Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!”