St Patrick's Day in San Francisco is the largest Irish celebration in the western United States. Cities on the East Coast such as Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia are known for their large Irish populations and extensive celebrations, but if you happen to be in San Francisco in the middle of March, you won’t be disappointed by what this city has to offer. Everyone from Irish expats to locals without a drop of Irish blood come out to enjoy the San Francisco Saint Patrick’s Day Festival, with its parade, music in pubs, and exciting atmosphere. If you thought the Irish holiday would be bland in the West Coast, think again—the San Francisco St Patrick’s Day parade will delight even the most skeptical visitors.
Taking place the weekend before March 17, the celebration begins with the 2016 San Francisco St Patrick’s Day parade. The parade begins at Second and Market streets and continues through the city to Civic Center Plaza where an all day festival keeps the fun going. St Patrick’s Day in San Francisco has the oldest celebration west of the Mississippi and has been celebrating Irish heritage for more than 150 years. Beginning at 11:30 am, the parade is the beginning of a long day of partying. Rest up before your trip to San Francisco, and keep the celebrations going after the parade at the festival and local Irish pubs.
More than 5,000 entertainers from across California make the San Francisco 2016 St Patrick’s Day parade a special event. Community organizations and marching bands also play an important role in the procession. Costumes at the parade can be flamboyant, so don’t be shy about showing your Irish pride! Everything from face paint to silly hats and extravagant costumes will be seen on the day, and a great outfit might make you the star of the San Francisco Saint Patrick’s Day festival or later on in the evening in one of the pubs.
If you want to skip the parade this year, the San Francisco Saint Patrick’s Day Festival takes place before, during, and even after the parade. Bypass the parade route and head straight for Civic Center Plaza, where the party starts at 10 am. This free event features food, music, and even activities for kids, making it a great family-friendly option for an exciting celebration. The festival can be quite crowded, so keep an extra close eye on your kids and give them a serious dose of culture with Irish music, food, and fun.
St Patrick’s Day in San Francisco continues with a three-day Irish Music Festival, leading up to March 17. Several venues throughout the city will devote their stages to Irish music and performers, extending the celebration over several days. Tickets and annual information can be found at the Irish Music Festival web site. If you’re feeling a bit impish this St Patrick’s Day, start your day off with an Irish coffee. The combination of hot coffee, whiskey, and cream is sure to start any day with a punch, and Irish pubs across town will be serving them up left and right, so don’t miss out on the chance to give this Irish classic a try.
Top image: Alfonso Jimenez (flickr), CC BY-SA 2.0