New York City is a popular destination and reportedly receives 47 million people a year, including over a million from the UK and over 250,000 from Ireland respectively.

Significant holidays, such as Christmas and New Year, also attract the crowds who flock to the city to stock up on presents and celebrate with thousands of other revellers. So why don’t us Brits consider spending Saint Patrick’s Day in The Big Apple in 2009?

New York City holds one of the longest running Saint Patrick Day parades in the world. 2009 will be the 248th year that fifth avenue (between 34th and 59th Street, central Manhattan) pays host to the parade involving some 150,000 marchers – and an additional 2 million spectators. The popularity of the celebration is no doubt due to New York’s own Irish community, which is the sixth biggest minority in the city today.

Manhattan’s Irish Heritage stretches back to the potato famine of the mid-1800s. This resulted in almost 2 million people leaving the country with many of them heading west, landing in New York, and subsequently settling in the city due to arriving with very little money. Since then the Irish community has become well established in the area, with examples of Irish influence in the religious, political, and business/service sectors exemplified by the many Irish bars across the city – and the popularity of products such as Smithwick’s Ale.

An additional plus to the multicultural character of New York City, is that in terms of accessibility, the city is one of the best places to easily experience a diverse range of cultural influences. Alongside the Irish community, there are many Puerto Ricans, Chinese, Italians, Dominicans, and West Indians – who have all had an impact on the city. And therefore, for the brief visitor to the city, there is an awful lot of choice concerning sights to see and cuisine to sample.

Yet with today’s economic climate, it is probably the thought of travel money that is at the forefront of most people’s minds. From a British perspective, over the last year the pound has suffered a massive fall against the US dollar as well as the Euro but since February, or so, has showed a slight increase which bodes well for the 17th. As it stands, £1 gets you $1.42 but is closer to parity with the Euro (€1.13), so looking at the figures for the past year (and the percentage change) the weakness of the pound is not likely to differ too much between the two destinations.

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