St. Patrick’s Day In Newport, RI – A Survival Guide

Updated: March 4, 2013
St Patrick's Day Newport RI

Newport, RI St. Patrick’s Day Parade: How To Drink For 15 Hours Straight

St. Patrick’s Parade Day in Newport is a peculiar animal. Everyone who has been to it knows exactly what it is. Most people who haven’t don’t know what they’re missing. I have spent years trying to convince non-local 20-somethings to come down, only to be asked “You want us to come watch a parade?” While the St. Patrick’s Day Parade  is front and center for Newport, for many young adults, it’s almost a sideshow to what some locals call “the best day in Newport, RI”. Don’t get us wrong, this is a family event and from 10am-1pm, there will be plenty of kids hanging out with their parents, watching the parade and having a grand old time.

However, for those of us 21 and older, Newport St. Patrick’s Parade Day is a whole different animal. It is an extreme endurance race of alcohol consumption where the goal is not to achieve excessive drunkenness but make it until closing time. This article endeavors to help you achieve this goal.

Newport, RI St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Survival Guide

Good times require good preparations. You really want to make sure you’ve stopped by Bridge Liquors and stocked the refrigerator full of beer and grabbed vodka for the jello shots. [1]


If you’re going to be taking advantage of the brunches offered by many of the restaurants in town, make sure you make reservations NOW!

It’s important to have a game plan. It’s also important to start the day with a small core of friends, making sure that everyone is VERY flexible. Leaving one group to meet up with another group at the wrong time can lead to you being trapped in a line for half an hour or more WITHOUT beer. It can also lead to spending way too much cash on cover charges. So have idea of where you want to start and end and remember that old advice of (non-Newporter) Field Marshall Helmuth Graf von Moltke, “No campaign plan survives first contact with the enemy”.

What to Wear

Parade Day in Newport, RI

If you’re going to drink all day, you gotta start in the morning!

The uniform of the day is green and shamrocky. You don’t HAVE to wear green, but if you don’t, at least try to look sharp or festive, a blue blazer with a white button down works well.  Funny t-shirts make for a great ice breaker. Oh, and make sure it’s something you don’t mind having a little beer spilled on.

Buy your Newport St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts HERE

Good Morning Sunshine

The key to St.Patrick’s Day in Newport is to start early. Hell, everyone else does. It’s not every day that bars in Newport, RI open at 8am, so you might as well take advantage of it. When you have some (truly-dedicated) folks playing “beer” pong with grain alcohol at 7am, you’re going to have a hard time catching up if you start at 11am and you’re going to be completely out of step if you get going after noon. Remember, there’s nothing more annoying when you’re sober than a sea of drunks, but when you’re drunk, there’s nothing more fun. So lets get everyone on the FUN side of the equation.


Are you an angry drunk? Then please stay home. Parade Day is probably the single most positive day of Newport’s year. It’s a day when all the locals run into all the locals they never see anymore and get to catch up and have the same conversations they had at last year’s Parade Day. Unlike in the summer, where Newport is packed with tourists and everyone is trying desperately to fight traffic and get *SOMEWHERE*, Parade Day in Newport isn’t a day to spend rushed and stressed. If you are the type to anger easily, the closest bouncer will be happy to toss your ass out on the street and collect $20 from the next person waiting at the door. So everybody just be cool and have FUN!

The Parade

The Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade kicks off at 11am and runs for about 2 hours. There will be plenty of Pipes and Drum bands like Colum Cille, who the Buzz had the pleasure of meeting last summer.  Don’t be intimidated by all the police officers you see in dress uniforms as they’re just here to have a good time too.[2]

Now What?

So the parade has passed, what are you going to do? That depends on where you are. You can stay at the bar you’re in, move on to another one, hit up the house parties you’ve been invited to, or wander Thames Street waiting from something to catch your interest. If you’re not having fun where you’re hanging, get a move on.

Or hit up your smartphone and see what’s happening at The Newport Buzz’s Facebook and Twitter feeds! We’ll be posting all day and night as our street teams hit up the bars and we will be giving you updates on cover charges, the lines, which bands are playing when and where, drunken anecdotes and other fun. If you’re on Twitter, join the conversation by adding the #NEWPORTSTPATS hashtag to your Newport St. Patrick’s Parade Day tweets!

Four O’Clock

4pm is when the chaff starts separating from the wheat. Eight hours is a long time to do anything, let alone pumping your body full of a depressant. Chances are you’ve spent most of the day on your feet, in part because most of the bars and restaurants along the parade route remove their stools and high-top tables to expand their capacity. With the sun starting to set, the temperature starts to drop, regardless of how beautiful or terrible the weather has been. This is also the time when the day-trippers start to head home. The crowds have started to die down a bit and EVERYONE is drinking a lot slower. Oh, and throw down some grub if you haven’t already, it’s still a long way until 1am. In fact, you’re only a little past halfway there.

The problem is, you probably want to take a nap. Try not to. The moment you wake up, you’re going to feel tired and hung over.  You’re going to want to power through the fatigue with some Red Bull or an Irish Coffee.

The Evening

Newport, RI St. Patrick's Day Parade

Your humble correspondent at 9pm on a Parade Day. Don’t laugh, you won’t be much prettier.

In the evening, Newport becomes an odd mix of the people who started drinking in the morning and are now basically zombies…and everyone else; people who had to work, people who wanted to “avoid the crowds” and those who like bars filled with half-conscious drunks. If your second wind leaves you at this point, just go home and go to sleep. If you can keep it going until 1am, congratulations, you truly are an elite Newport drinker!

Check back soon for our complete listing of bars, which bands are playing when and where, cover charges and plenty of other great Newport, RI St. Patrick’s Day coverage.

-Tristan Pinnock, Buzz Staff

For more on St. Patrick’s Day in Newport, read 15 Ways to Drink Your Guinness and the Safety Brief!


[1] This week, it’s not uncommon for what look like fully functional members of society to show up at the counter with a couple handles of Caldwells or Poland Spring, but we don’t recommend slumming below Svedka or Pinnacle.

[2] This year please resist the urge to photograph the ones who urinate in public.

Share On Facebook


Buzz St Pats T-shirts