For the past 30 some years, thousands of young people have flocked to Cavanaugh’s, Smokes, and a host of other bars for the pilgrimage that is Erin Express. Erin Express is a free St. Patrick’s day bar crawl, that for the first time this year, spans three weekends and includes 15 bars. Included are some Penn staples: Smokes, Copa, and Blarney as well as many more. Attendees get super invested in the event, even sporting Erin Express customized gear. 

“A lot of people like to do a celebration of St. Patty’s day,” says Brian Pawliczek, owner and manager of Cavanaugh’s. “People get shirts made up for it, they really kind of look forward to it.” Think Fling, but on St. Patty’s—an unbeatable combination.

This bar crawl is a Philadelphia tradition. Ask people in their 50s who went to school in Philadelphia and they can easily tell you some long–held Erin Express memories. It was started by William Pawliczek of Cavanaugh’s and Paul Ryan Sr. of Smokey Joe’s as a way to celebrate the holiday and today it’s still going strong. It used to be hard for Penn students to attend because it was the weekend before St. Patty's, while we were often on spring break. In our place, students from Drexel, St. Joe’s and other Philadelphia area schools embraced this tradition. This year, it may be our turn to embrace it. 

In the past, there have been two weekends, but this year a third was added. Erin Express held a warm-up walk weekend on March 3rd, without the standard buses used to transport bar–goers, and now two official days have been added: March 10th and the 17th. Though the 10th has unfortunately already passed, this new added weekend, March 17th, might be Penn’s time to shine. Our students now have the opportunity to participate with the rest of the Philly–area schools. 

Bars range from University City to 2nd and South Street. This allows participants to really see a lot of Philadelphia’s Irish Pubs and bars. Participating bars are teaming up to offer security, port–a–pottys, and even outside socializing spaces. Cavanaugh’s is getting a heated tent for patrons, so they can party outside even if it’s freezing cold, along with outdoor spaces at New Deck, Blarney and others. The buses run starting at 11 am with the first pickup at 39th and Sansom and have stops at all of the bars around the city, including stops at 2nd and South and 23rd and Market. 

The Erin Express allows participants access to some of Philadelphia’s most iconic bars and pubs. This year, instead of doing the same thing that you have always done, try something new and hop on the Erin Express. Pawliczek says, “Everybody can come together, and everyone is Irish on St. Patty’s Day.”