March Madness

Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, but that doesn’t mean we all want the same thing out of the famous South Boston parade, which rolls this year on March 18 with an expected crowd of 600,000. Here’s your guide to making the most of the day — green beer optional. — Renata Brito and Madeleine J. Coleman

St Patrick's Day Parade

Illustration by Mikey Burton

Fans of Camp: If your St. Paddy’s Day isn’t complete without a green beer, then head to Stadium Sports Bar and Grill, where the waitstaff will dress festively and the music will be live ($10 cover). As with all Southie pubs, get there before noon.

The Real Irish: Love the parade, but hate the dabbler’s version of corned beef and cabbage? Head over to Shenannigans, where they dish out Irish specials like bangers, mash, and beans and shepherd’s pie year round, with Guinness on draft. Then survey Southie’s Irish heritage at St. Augustine’s Cemetery, Boston’s first Catholic graveyard.

Folks with Families: How’s a leprechaun-size kiddo supposed to get a good view? Seek high ground at the M Street Park, or head up to Dorchester Heights. This year, there’s no need to shelter your kids from overzealous candy-throwers — the police have asked revelers to hold their fire.

Clandestine Drinkers: Public drinking is strictly forbidden, and police will be everywhere enforcing the rules — including a prohibition on brown-bagging bottles. If you really can’t wait until the parade is over to get boozy, be smart: Use an opaque travel mug.

Alternative Revelers: After the Veterans for Peace were denied a berth in last year’s parade, they split off and formed a second procession with gay rights activists. This year they’ll be a mile behind the main parade, and marchers will include Occupy protesters as well as other labor and social-equality groups.

Bagpipe Aficionados: The 29-player Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums plans to kick off this year’s parade with “The Minstrel Boy,” and if you’re within three miles, you’ll probably be able to hear it. Listen for favorites like “Rakes of Mallow,” “Men of the West,” and “Amazing Grace” throughout the route.

Partiers Up Above: The parade is on the streets, but the real fun is on the various roof decks and balconies overlooking the route. The best way to get invited up? Look for festivities that fit your personality, lest you be mistaken for a party crasher. And bring something to share, lest you be mistaken for a freeloader.