Seattle hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade, and this year it will be better than ever. The parade will kick off the weekend full of fun on Saturday morning, but the festival will carry on the Irish spirit throughout the weekend with an array of festive options you won’t want to pass up.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
4th Ave from Jefferson St to Pine St.
Seattle, WA 98109
Date: Saturday, March 17, 2012
Hours: Parade begins at 12:30 p.m.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade travels north on 4th Avenue starting from Jefferson Street to the reviewing stand at Westlake Park, before officially ending with the closing ceremonies at the Seattle Center at 2 p.m.
This annual event is sponsored by Seattle’s Irish Heritage Club who invites anyone Irish (and everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day) to march along by finding “the county or province where you think your ancestors came from and march behind that Provincial Banner.” If walking isn’t your forte, seniors (and others) can avoid walking the long route by riding in the provided “Seniors Shamrock Shuttle.”
The parade can be viewed anywhere along the route but prime spots go quickly. After enjoying all the bagpipes, drums and marchers, keep that Irish camaraderie going by participating in the Irish Festival. Catch a free ride on the Monorail from Westlake Park to the Festival at the Seattle Center any time between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
Related: Best Holiday Parades
2012 Irish Festival
Seattle Center Exhibition Hall (next to the Opera House)
301 Mercer St
Seattle, WA 98109
Date: March 17 & 18, 2012
Hours: Sat – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Seattle’s annual Irish Festival is literally two days of non-stop Irish fun. Geared for all ages, the festival has a wide variety of activities to choose from.
Festival goers can visit the conference rooms on the upper floor for a variety of workshops and classes. All ages can learn about Irish history and genealogy where there will be an opportunity to view rare, ancient manuscripts and historical documents.
Children’s Activities Center
Talk about a full schedule of events especially for the wee ones in the crowd. Children, ages 12 and under, are invited to enter the “Most Irish-looking Face” and/or the “Smilingest Irish Eyes” contests. The Irish Festival states that they are not looking for a child that is actually Irish but, “as the song says, would the smile on their face ‘steal your heart away’ or do the ‘eyes twinkle bright as can be‘? Those that do determine the winners.”
For the more daring lads and lassies, there are Irish dance workshops where they can try to keep up with the fast moving instructors. Or, pick up some new sayings at the beginning Irish (Gaelic) language classes.
Kids can also enjoy hands-on activities, create Irish crafts and take part in other optional fun.
The Irish festival offers an ongoing selection of entertainment to choose from. On the center’s main stage, attendees can listen to a variety of musicians performing Irish folk songs, ballads and Celtic tunes. There will also be chances to enjoy instrumental numbers and bagpipe playing.
Exhibits, Demonstrations and Games
Festival-goers can take in colorful cultural exhibits and educational demonstrations. The more daring attendees can stretch their Irish muscles by participating in different Gaelic games.
Along with all the music, attendees will be entertained by traditional Celtic dancers as well as by the quickness of the talented step-dancers.
The festival has a nice selection of Irish-inspired food. Along with standard festival food, there will be soda bread, Irish coffee, corned beef and cabbage, fun green treats and a large selection of potatoes choices.
Gift and craft booths give attendees the chance to pick up authentic Irish products including jewelry, linens and kitchen accessories. There are also plenty of fun Irish magnets, flags, T-shirts, clovers and ball caps to please everyone’s taste.
Kristy Stevens-Young is a freelance writer in Seattle. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.