“Hooley” is Irish slang for a rip roaring party and hooboy, does Buffalo hooley the doors off both St. Patrick’s Day weekends. Here in Buffalo, buckle your chinstrap because we have two parades. In order to survive this year’s festivities, you’ll need to be prepared. Here now is my guide to proper celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in Buffalo. After all there’s a reason Departures Magazine named Buffalo one of the best cities to spend Paddy’s Day in.
Learn the Lingo
We’ve already covered the hooley, but Buffalo has a very large Irish population and if you’re going to fit in you need to talk the talk. In Buffalo, when someone tells you that the High Holy Day is upon us, they might actually be talking about St. Patrick’s Day. Also, it’s “Paddy,” not “Patty.”
March is one of those months where you can get a sunburn and frostbite in the same week. With two parades and temperatures anywhere between 3 and 75 degrees, you’re going to need options. You could go with your standard “Kiss me I’m Irish” apparel, but if you want to stand out I say go all in and rock the kilt. No kilt? Maybe just a nice newsboy hat or cable knit sweater then.
Saturday : The “Old Neighborhood” Parade, Noon, Buffalo’s Old First Ward
While the big parade is on Sunday, any good Irish Buffalonian will tell you the real parade is on the Saturday in the city’s Old First Ward (read all about the neighborhood here). This is where many of the cities original Irish immigrants lived in the shadows of the grain elevators straddling the Buffalo River and where some of their relatives still live today. After the parade, head over to the Valley Community Center (93 Leddy St, Buffalo) for corned beef and salt potatoes. Want more hooley? Your destination is a variety of Irish pubs, like Gene McCarthy’s, Adolf’s, Blackthorn, Conlon’s & Doc Sullivan’s, around town. And several spots around Buffalo are renowned for their live Irish music.
Sunday: Parade Day, 2 p.m., Delaware Avenue between Niagara Square and North Street
You and thousands of your closest friends will flood downtown for the biggest hooley of the year. Come early and find a good spot on Delaware Avenue to soak it all in. Let’s be honest, it’s a long parade and it’ll probably be cold. Pick a bar and warm up. After the parade, everyone who marched in it will join you (including the bagpipers who’ll happily play an impromptu song for you and your fellow patrons.) Stay long enough and I’m sure you’ll see a shirtless reveler river dancing his way down the street.
Whether you plan to celebrate for a few hours or all weekend, the best way to experience St. Patrick’s Day is to forget the plan, grab some friends and see where the day takes you. Because there’s always a hooley to be had during both St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Buffalo!