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Viva 'Glas' Vegas

TravelBy Brian Farrell
Brian Farrell joins the Irish community at the 'Greening' of Las Vegas at the city's famous sign
Brian Farrell joins the Irish community at the 'Greening' of Las Vegas at the city's famous sign

IT was the Paddy's Day party to end all parties - the week Las Vegas went Glas Vegas.

While New York, Boston and Chicago might be at the head of the parade when it comes to America's St Patrick's Day celebrations, nobody throws a bash like the folk in Sin City.

The annual 'Greening of Las Vegas' is fast becoming THE place to be on March 17.

Along the city's famous Strip, thousands of revellers are decked from head to toe in green, raising a glass to Ireland's patron saint. 

Every hotel, every bar and every restaurant is keen to join the Green Party - even the famous Vegas sign changes colour in honour of our national day.

At 10am the queue of wannabe Paddies waiting to gain entry to the infamous bash at New York, New York Hotel stretches the whole way across the vast casino floor.

The two-day hooley at the hotel's 'Nine Fine Irishmen' bar is the hottest ticket in town - and the earlier you get there, the better.

Outside in the searing heat the organisers erect a monstrous stage on the hotel's iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

And from the crack of dawn till early morn a whole host of Celtic-themed live acts - including a brilliant U2 tribute band - keep the party in full swing. 

In the neighbouring Mandalay Bay Hotel, the craic at the aptly-named Ri Ra bar is no less impressive while all along the Strip, bars offer happy hour Jameson shots, Irish car bomb cocktails and pints of green beer.
 

In downtown Las Vegas, they even have their own mini parade which proudly marches along Fremont Street and past iconic casinos like the Golden Nugget, 4 Queens and Binion's. 

The parade is headed by the heroes of the Las Vegas Fire Department pipe band and honorary Irish consulate, Terry Murphy - the First Lady of the city's large ex-pat community.

The boss of the Fremont Street Experience - the canopied-covered street that stretches five blocks along the historic downtown district -  is another proud Irishman, Dubliner Patrick Hughes, and he ensures that the party rages long and hard.

In true Irish fashion, the bash goes on for four full days and the entertainment is totally free.

On three separate stages, 23 different bands belt out the tunes and festival's slogan, 'come early, drink often', is rigidly adhered to by the raucous crowd.

On the street where, 30 years ago next month, U2 shot one of their most-famous videos, anything goes. 

Back then, Bono and the boys professed to 'Still Haven't found What They were Looking for' - but if it's craic, ceoil and the best Irish-themed party on US soil, well, they better get their butts back to Vegas!

Check out www.lasvegas.com