St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in more places around the world than is any other national festival. Vienna is no exception!
Whether or not you hail from the Emerald Isle, March 17th is the day to celebrate all-things-Irish by wearing green, sporting a shamrock (a three-leaf clover) and, yes, drinking lots of whiskey, beer or cider.
Honoring Ireland’s patron saint, who drove the “snakes” out of Ireland (i.e., converted the pagans) in the 5th century, the Day of the Festival of Patrick – or Lá Fhéile Pádraig, as it’s known in the motherland – has been used ever since as a convenient excuse to break up the alcohol-deprived doldrums of lent. The snakes had the last laugh, it seems.
In Vienna, there are many ways to celebrate Irish culture on May 17th. This year (2017), it falls on a Friday, so you’ll have the entire weekend to celebrate (and/or recover).
1 – March in a Parade
Vienna’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival will take place on March 18, 2017. (Photo ©Hans Koerner)
Next to the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, parades are what St. Patrick’s Day is all about! Proudly showing off your green in public while marching to the noble beat of bodhrán drums and wail of uilleann bagpipes is something celebrated all over the world.
While some parades are simply an excuse to move a crowd from one pub to another, others are kilometers-long festivals drawing thousands of spectators, like the famed annual parade down Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Here in Vienna, the official parade will take place a day late, on Saturday, March 18th. (A word of warning to all those who plan to celebrate the night before: there’s probably nothing worse for a bad hangover than listening to bagpipes). The route will start at Yppenplatz at 11:30 and proceed about one kilometer westward along Ottakringerstraße to the Ottakringer brewery, where an event-packed festival will begin at noon (more info below).
Mar 18: St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival
16., Yppenplatz, 11:30
2 – Go to an Irish Pub
In the current issue of Metropole, contributor Jamie Blake Knox takes a look at four of Vienna’s dyed-in-the-green bars where you can get your Erse in gear (“Guinness Diplomacy,” March 2017). We list them here, along with a few others we’ve stumbled across in various drunken stupors over the years.
9., Währinger Straße 3
The “P” stands for party at this popular gastro-pub, which is co-hosting the St. Patrick’s Day Festival Wien (see info below) with the Embassy of Ireland on Sat, March 18. The pub should be packed on Friday night and it will also host a five-course dinner, prepared by Irish star chef Jessica Murphy from Galway’s Kai Restaurant, on Sun, March 19 (€75), net proceeds to benefit Integrationshaus.
Mel’s Craft Beers & Dining
1., Wipplingerstraße 9
PaddyCo Vienna operates this craft beer pub along with two other Irish Pubs: Dick Macks (1., Marc-Aurel-Straße 7), which claims to be the biggest in Vienna, and its smaller sister Sally’s (1., Judengasse 9), as well as other bars in the area. Mel’s dyed-green “Crazy Irish Bastard” lager will be flowing generously from the tap. They are even promoting an unofficial “parade” – actually a pub crawl between their downtown locales. You might be crawling, indeed, if you manage to make it to all five!
O’Connor’s Old Oak
3., Rennweg 95
Lacking a central location, O’Connors also fortunately lacks the kitschy quality of many Irish expat-pubs and instead offers warmth and tasty fish-and-chips.
1., Schwarzenbergstraße 1-3
Billing itself as the “best Irish pub in Europe” (outside of Ireland, I suppose), based on an 2004 Expedia ranking, Flanagan’s has been a evergreen favorite of locals and tourists alike for 20 years.
Bockshorn, 1., Naglergasse 7
Johnny’s Pub, 4., Schleifmühlgasse 11
Four Bells Irish Pub, 4. Schleifmühlgasse 2
Shamrock, 7., Kirchengasse 3
Shebeen, 7., Lerchenfelderstr. 45
Na nÓg Irish Pub, 18., Anastasius-Grün-Gasse 6
3 – Go hear (or play) some live Irish music
March 14: Irish Traditional Session
One the second Tuesday of every month, this Irish folk jam brings together together fiddles, flute, accordion, pipes, bodhran, singing to create some spirited jigs and reels
Cafe Concerto, 21:00
16., Lerchenfelder Gürtel 53
March 17: Fan Linn
Four musicians from Vienna play traditional Irish music without the traditional clichés.
Cafe Amadeus, 20:30
15., Märzstrasse 4
Mar 17: Long Beard Brothers
Back by popular demand, this Austrian acoustic folk and rock quartet returns to the Hard Rock Cafe, which will be serving up green beer and green burgers (don’t ask, don’t tell) all day long.
Hard Rock Cafe, 18:00
1., Rotenturmstrasse 25
Green beer and burgers (?!!!) at Vienna’s Hard Rock Cafe
March 18: St. Patrick’s Day Concert Night: Okemah & Green Summer
Both bands play traditional Irish folk music updated with rocking grooves.
Tunnel Vienna Live, 20:00
4– Go see an Irish play
Coming from Broadway to Vienna, this dark, bittersweet romantic comedy set in the Irish midlands makes its continental debut.
Vienna’s English Theatre
8., Josefsgasse 12
Starts March 13, performances daily except Sundays at 19:30
5 – Get jiggy with it: Dance and party at a céilí
A céilí (pronounced KAY-lee) is a traditional Irish social gathering featuring music, dance and, of course, spirits. In other words, a party!
March 17: Paddysfest 2017
For the sixth time, the Ottakringer brewery will host this massive party for up to 3,500 guests on four floors, with live music, silent disco, djs and live performances by the Shamrock Dance Company Vienna. Only those 18 years of age or over are admitted.
Ottakringer Brauerei, 20:00 – 06:00
16., Ottakringerplatz 1
March 18: St.Patricks’s Day Festival Wien
Following the official parade on Saturday, which starts at Yppenplatz (see above), the party continues at the Ottakringer brewery with traditional Irish music and dance, as well as talks, readings, culinary delights, and face painting for the wee ‘uns. At 20:00, two alternative-indie Irish bands, Wyvern Lingo and then We Cut Corners, will take the stage and later on, contemporary Irish DJs take over and spin grooves all night long! Free entry!
Ottakringer Brauerei, 12:00 – 05:00
16., Ottakringerplatz 1
March 18: Cumann Céilí Vín
Austria’s self-proclaimed “first Irish dance club” will hold a céilí dance festival with live music from Pholc, the Waldviertel’s own Irish dance band. The club also offers Irish set-dance workshops.
Haus der Begegnung Wien 10, 20:00 (entry at 19:00)
10., Ada Christengasse 2b
Photo ©Hans Koerner