Top o’ the morning to ya, laddie! Here in America, we’re raised to believe in the pursuit of drunken shenanigans. That’s why, each March 17th, we slip into t-shirts sporting phrases like “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” and chug as many green Bud Lights® as humanly possible. Luckily, it doesn’t matter if you’re actually Irish or even Armenian, because St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by all who dare to down chartreuse JELL-O® shots.
But instead of pining after one sacred day of buffoonery, diversify your celebrations by taking part in these drinking holidays from around the world. Sure, you won’t be able to screech “Galway Girl” at the top o’ your lungs, but you’ll develop an appreciation for new traditions (and alcoholic beverages):
1. Beer Day
Location: Iceland, nationwide
Date: March 1st
When the weather gets cold, the people of Iceland get even colder by downing frosty ones (no wusses are allowed inside the country). Icelanders have been celebrating this beer-fueled holiday since March 1, 1989, when the nation’s prohibition law was abolished. And what better way to celebrate legal drinking than by spending an entire day getting completely smashed? If you find yourself in Reykjavik, head to Micro Bar, Kaffibarinn, or Kaldi to sip on local brews. Seventy-five years of prohibition lit a fire under the community, as microbreweries can now be found all over town. And yes, there is a brand of beer called “Viking.” Can I get a “Na zdravje” to that?
2. Australia Day
Location: Australia, nationwide
Date: January 26th
Australia Day commemorates the arrival of British ships at Sydney’s Port Jackson in 1788. Captain Arthur Phillip led his fleet from Great Britain to the Land Down Unda, and the Aussies have been toasting in his honor ever since. And while it’s no secret that our friends in Oz love to party, this particular drinking holiday results in the country’s highest number of medical treatments for intoxication for people under the age of 25. Don’t let the arrests and ER visits scare you off; although this holiday is rambunctious, it’s also a time to celebrate Australia’s culture. And of course, locals and tourists use this day to drink endless amounts of Foster’s® before hitting the beach with their mates.
3. Up Helly Aa
Location: Lerwick, Shetland, Scotland
Date: Last Tuesday in January
Want to get tipsy and light stuff on fire? Make your way to the land of haggis and men wearing skirts, er, kilts… Scotland throws one of the most “Highlander-meets-Braveheart” celebrations known to man. Up Helly Aa, also referred to as a Viking Fire Festival, is a raging celebration that is oftentimes compared to Mardi Gras. The citizens of Scotland take to the streets during the cold winter months to mark the end of the Yule season while simultaneously celebrating their Viking heritage. In perhaps the most bada** display of all time, a procession is led by an elected Guizer Jarl. The Guizer Jarl dresses as a notable figure from Norse mythology and leads a Jarl Squad, which can be made up of nearly 70 people, and they traipse through the streets of Shetland. On top of the Jarl Squad, there are nearly 1,000 additional guizers who carry torches through town. But the focal point of the procession is the galley, a replica Viking ship that’s constructed specifically for the parade. After nightfall, the ship is lit on fire by torchbearing members of the Jarl Squad. As you can imagine, drinking is a key component of the festivities. After watching the galley burn, swig whiskey or mead back at the bar, and try to hum along to the Viking songs that have become the stuff of legends.
4. Bay to Breakers
Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Date: Third Sunday in May
A destination that allows Silicon Valley’s cyber nerds and guitar-strumming trustafarians to cohabitate in peace, the City by the Bay is known for being a little strange. San Francisco’s quirkiness comes out in the open during Bay to Breakers (not that its residents needed an excuse to fly their freak flags). The event has been a NorCal staple since its inception in 1912, and each year thousands of people line the city’s hilly streets to run from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. You would think the 7.4-mile course discourages drunken behavior (and legally, it does), but the citizens of the Golden State use Bay to Breakers as a time to get crazy. You’ll see runners flashing by in bizarre costumes and occasionally in the buff as they push shopping carts carrying beer kegs up Heartbreak Hill. Although public nudity was banned from the race in 2012, frisky flashers are still notorious. Pack your party pants and show no fear in the face of public nudity (but resist the urge to show your junk, you never know what could end up on Facebook). Don’t fancy yourself as the athletic type? Pull your favorite gorilla costume out of storage and watch the shenanigans unfold. Spectators line the streets of SF and don’t hold back when it comes to getting slap happy.
5. Haro Wine Festival
Location: Haro, Spain
Date: June 29th
Do you soak up more vino than a Real Housewife who’s vacationing in Cabo? Well then, the Haro Wine Festival is for you. Trek your way out to Spain for Haro’s annual wine battle. The party technically begins the night before, with locals drinking in the streets and getting pumped up to super soak unsuspecting tourists with a face full of wine. If you want to skip the preliminary ruckus, wake up bright and early on June 29th and find your way to Riscos de Bilibio. At this hilltop, crowds dress in all white and are doused with delicious tinto. Rabble-rousers spray wine into the crowd like there’s no tomorrow, but here, everyone’s a winner—how could you lose when you’re diving through delicious wine? Pack a gigantic squirt gun or load up on box wine; trust us, you’re going to want all the ammo you can haul. And hey, when have you ever said no to more wine?
We’re not saying you have to toss your beloved leprechaun costume, but checking out these other popular drinking holidays will give you an excuse to travel while still indulging in the “sauce.” Did we miss any? Leave a comment to tell us about your favorite non-St. Pat’s celebration.