Buenos Aires, Argentina is recognized as an important South American city for many reasons. This is the home of beautiful dancing such as the Tango. This is the place where world-class wine and beef are served to perfection daily. There may be nowhere on earth where the people are more passionate about the game of soccer, and you will even find the widest street in the world, 9 de Julio Avenue, located right in the center of town. The city is also affectionately referred to as the Paris of South America, but it’s a different — and perhaps less expected — European connection we are exploring today: St. Patrick’s Day in Buenos Aires!
So, how did this holiday manage to jump nearly 7,000 miles — across an ocean and a hemisphere — from Dublin to Buenos Aires? Of the millions who fled Ireland during the 1800’s due to famine and other circumstances, several thousand found their way to Argentina. Those first Irish-Argentine’s kept a pretty low profile, not exactly going out of their way to celebrate their native holiday. However, as St Patrick’s Day has become a more widely recognized celebration across the globe, more Argentines are joining in the fun and finding out that the holiday is a perfect reason to do a little partying each March.
Argentina even manages to put their own spin on the holiday, often turning the event into a week-long celebration that includes dinners on some nights, music and dance performances on others, and always a lot of partaking in libations! The city has five Irish dance schools that provide plenty of entertainment throughout the week. Irish-Argentines young and old spin and twirl around, dancing the jig and other traditional Gaelic steps and looking like something right off the streets of Dublin.
Like other non-Irish cities that ‘go big’ for this holiday (New York, Boston, Chicago) the centerpiece of the celebration is a parade through the Plaza San Martín, followed by live music and street parties as the streets remain closed to traffic until around 5:00 am the following morning. There are also several Irish pubs located throughout the city, including in the parade area specifically. Many pubs such as The Kilkenny (pictured) are busy for weeks on either side of the holiday, as locals all manage to find at least a little Irish blood and something green to don for a fun night out.
Buenos Aires isn’t the only location to get in on the St. Patrick’s Day action in South America. Other cities in Argentina hold celebrations as well, and cities in Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil also plan activities. Just check out the St. Patrick’s Day-themed Christ the Redeemer statue below and remember, on March 17th everyone has a little Irish in ’em!