From U2 to Dylan Moran to Guinness, we have plenty to thank Ireland for. Thanks to the annual knees-up, St Patrick's Day, we get that opportunity on Monday. Pubs, bars and parks across Melbourne will get into the spirit of the day with special events dominated by Irish music, dancing, food, the colour green and having the craick. Here's our round up of everything you need to know about celebrating St Patrick's Day in Melbourne.
What's the Day About?
To millions around the world, St Patrick's Day is simply an excuse to wear green, drink Guinness and buy t-shirts with phrases like 'Kiss Me, I'm Irish' on them. But before you prepare yourself to buy the next round, it's worth learning a little about the day's significance. St Patrick's Day is a global cultural and religious celebration, which commemorates Saint Patrick (the most commonly recognised Patron Saint of Ireland) and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, while highlighting all things Irish from entertainment to food to sport.
The shamrock – that little three-leaved plant – is synonymous with the day itself, said to have been the way Saint Patrick explained the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish. Now, you see the shamrock everywhere, from the guernseys of NBA basketballers for the Boston Celtics to the flag of Montreal.
St Pat's is also a great day for a party. Some of the most famous events happen in New York and Boston – where huge parades shut down entire cities – but Australia's strong links with Ireland (and our love of a drink) mean the party thrives here, too.
As in previous years, some of the world's most recognisable landmarks including the London Eye, the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House will 'go green' for the day, putting a new spin on some famous tourist destinations.
Where to Drink
Hundreds of pubs and bars around Melbourne will host special St Pat's Day celebrations, but any self-respecting list about Melbourne's best watering holes on the day should start and finish with our finest Irish-themed pubs. The city has a plethora of them, each promising the type of experience you'd get in Dublin.
The Last Jar – formerly live music venue The Arthouse – will get into the swing of things with traditional Irish music and the sort of breakfast you won't find at your local hipster cafe (think black and white pudding and potato bread along with the obligatory bacon, egg and sausage).
Over at North Melbourne's cosy Drunken Poet, opposite Queen Victoria Market, there's a line-up of live entertainment headlined by Gallie and The Beguinness, a traditional Irish act. Pencil The Limerick Arms into your diary if you're after cheap booze – with $5 Happy Hour specials between 4-6pm and $10 Guinness specials all day, it's the place to be.
With a name like The Celtic Club, you would expect the Queen Street restaurant and bar to have March 17th circled on the calendar all year. Australia's first Irish club – established in 1887 – will feature live music from 11am until late, a traditional menu and plenty of drink specials.
Popular haunts like Pugg Mahones, PJ O'Brien's and Bridie O'Reilly's will offer drink specials alongside the revelry – drop by Bridie's South Yarra branch for a $20 full Irish breakfast and Guinness from 10am-noon.
If it's all sounding a little conventional, make time to pay a visit to The Wharf Hotel. There, among the live music and Irish-themed food specials, punters can win their height in Guinness. Start planning how you'll transport it home if you win…
Where to Party
If the thought of perching on a bar stool all day doesn't do it for you, why not check out one of the handful of street parties across town?
North of the river, Carlton's Dan O'Connell Hotel will let the merriment from the pub spill over to the adjacent park. Billing itself as 'Melbourne's biggest and best St Patrick's Day event' with more than a century's worth of history, staff will welcome bleary-eyed partygoers from 7am with a traditional Irish breakfast. Live music kicks off outdoors at 2pm with acts including The Claymore Band, The Strating Sisters and The Colonials Celtic Folk.
The little ones will be looked after at Flemington pub, The Quiet Man, which will host an outdoor family-friendly party during the day featuring face painting, roving entertainers and food and drink stalls, before things get grown up in the evening with contemporary bands and the Guinness and whiskey taps flowing freely.
Edinburgh Gardens will play host to the annual St Patrick's Day Family Festival on Sunday (today!) – and hopefully the clean up will be a little easier than those infamous post-New Year's Eve celebrations. From 12pm-6pm, the festival will feature Irish pipers and dancers, kids' activities including face painting and a petting zoo, and an appearance by the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club. There's even a Van Morrison tribute act, paying homage to Ireland's second most famous singer (sorry Van, Bono takes that title).
And if all this live music is giving you the urge to get up on stage, St Kilda's Pure Pop Records invites punters to bring down their instruments today for an acoustic jam in the venue's courtyard from 8pm. The impromptu session will follow sets by Adam Eaton, Alfred Daniel and Roesy.
Main Image Credit: Whimsey Box