St Patrick’s Day during a pandemic – how people celebrated this year

saint patricks day

(Yan Ming, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Johnny Wood, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • Social distancing measures have led to many parties, parades and celebrations being cancelled.
  • People have posted videos of their makeshift celebrations online to help bring people together, virtually.
  • Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar praised people’s resolve and told the population: “we are with you”.

With annual St Patrick’s Day parades and events cancelled due to coronavirus, revellers found creative and unusual ways to celebrate.


Farmers mucked in

Some people turned their farms into parade grounds, attracting thousands of online spectators.

Of course, when it comes to marching, four legs are better than two.

Children got crafty

An arts and crafts competition sponsored by news website attracted entries from children across Ireland.

Artwork for St. Patricks Day
Artwork created to mark St. Patrick’s Day
This button-covered picture of a traditional Irish dancer was made by an 11-year-old with an eye for detail.

Five-year-old Emma McKenna and two-year-old Sarah McKenna are bringing the luck of the Irish to Castlegregory in Co Kerry
Bringing the luck of the Irish to Castlegregory in Co Kerry.

Colourful window designs featured flags, shamrocks and an occasional leprechaun.

People rang bells and held virtual parades

A bishop called for church bells to ring out across the country at 11am, to express solidarity amid the pandemic.

With many Irish pubs closed and events cancelled, several musicians, DJs and community groups gave online performances, including fiddler Colm Mac Con Iomaire, who played live on Facebook.

Farms weren’t the only places holding parades. Using creative camera angles and even more creative staging work, this virtual parade features clay models.

More Stormtroopers featured in this video than most St Patrick’s Day parades, but the animators knew how to bring a smile to the faces of their online audience.

The world turned green

Alongside online parades, the tradition of turning some of the world’s notable landmarks and buildings green to mark St Patrick’s Day continued.

New York’s Empire State Building, the Cristo Rei statue in Portugal’s capital Lisbon and Niagara Falls were among this year’s selected sites.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Back in Ireland, St Patrick’s Day 2020 saw Taoiseach Leo Varadkar give a ministerial broadcast in which he assured the population: “we are with you”.

On a day usually characterized by parades, crowds and parties, he called for the public’s continued help in observing social distancing measures.

“We are asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart,” he said.

“Let it be said that when things were at their worst, we were at our best.”


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