St Patricks Day Parade
Annual St Patricks Day Parade and Festival
Festival is from 9:30 am to 5 pm. Parade begins at 10:30 am
If you're interested in having a jolly good time and being all silly, the St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festivities organized by the ICSC is the place to be! The fun comes in two parts.
- the Parade
- the Festival
The St. Patrick's Day Parade
The St Patricks day parade is about 2 hours long and starts from the corner of Juniper and 5th, heads north along 5th, turns east at Upas, and heads back south on 6th. See map of parade route here.
A parade is a parade and this one is no different except that everyone is dressed in green, and is primed to have a good time in honor of Ireland's patron saint. You will see marching bands, beauty queens, government officials, Irish descendants, animals, clowns, vehicles, and everyone else who wants to be "Irish for a day".
By far, my favorite participants of any parade are the marching bands. How do they play their instruments and march in sync? You can expect to see a few marching bands in the St Patricks Day parade: these include high school bands, military bands, and a few professional outfits. To be sure, the highlight of the day are the men in their kilts playing their bagpipes - how often do you get to see this?
The St. Patrick's Day parade is also peppered with Gaelic music bands. These musicians ride on flatbeds while they blast out traditional Irish lyrics. They're animated and love all things Irish: you'll be swept away by their energy.
Beauty Queens and Dignitaries
Everyone loves a beauty queen and this parade will not disappoint. Irish beauties will ride on the back of convertibles and grace you with their fresh charm. Brains before beauty? Keep an eye out for government officials and other dignitaries:
- Miss Colleen: Colleen means "Irish girl or maiden".
- the Smilin Irishman
- San Diego Man of the Year
- the San Diego Woman of the Year
- the Irishman of the Year
- the Irishwoman of the Year
- Honorable Irish Representatives
- Grand marshals of the parade
Irish Descendants and Dancers
What good is a St Patrick's day parade if the Irish are not out in full force? In this parade you will see various organizations dedicated to the preservation of the Irish culture and the Irish way of life:
- the Friendly Sons of St Patrick: is the oldest fraternal organization in the country, dating back to pre-Revolutionary War days.
- the Sons of Ireland North County
- the North San Diego County Friendly Sons of St Patrick
- the Pride of Erin Ceili Dancers: non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Irish Culture, specializing in teaching and demonstrating céili (Irish Folk) dancing
- the Rose Academy of Irish Dance
- the Bracken School of Irish Dance
- the Malone Academy of Irish Dance
Clowns, Mascots, and Animals
As with any good parade, there are clowns, mascots, and animals. Horses and dogs are plentiful and dressed in their finest greenery.
I'm not particularly drawn to fancy cars, but the show of vehicles in the St Patricks Day parade is nothing less than amazing! You'll see corvettes, convertibles, antiques, miniatures, De Loreans (with their gull wing doors), and Lowriders! Did you know that De Loreans were originally made in Northern Ireland? And if you don't know what a lowrider is, watch this video and prepare to be informed! Oh yes, let's not be forget the many flatbed floats and the fire trucks.
There's much more in the St Patricks Day parade: a whole 2 hours worth. But now, it's time to talk about the St Patrick's Day Festivities
St Patrick's Day Festival
The festival is located on 6th avenue, along the western edge of Balboa park It extends from El Prado northwards until Quince.
Celtic Village: Here you will find merchants selling all things Irish: from hats, and t-shirts; to authentic Irish imports. It's a festival, so everyone's invited to put up a stand and sell their wares: from surf boards, to counter top tiles: it's all here!
Kids Zone! Oh, if you haven't had enough fun at the St Patricks day parade, be sure to head on over to the where you can experience rides and games: you have pony rides, whirly whirly rides, slides,, and the like.
Beer Garden: Food and beer are sold from vendors. Beer is allowed in designated areas and the line-up to buy food is quite long. You may consider just putting out a blanket and enjoying a brought-from-home picnic.
Within the Beer Garden are 2 stages where you can see Irish themed performances, Celtic dancing, and music bands. Wooo-wooo, there's enough to keep you happy for many hours.
Location & Facilities
St Patricks Day Parade and Festival
West side of Balboa Park along Laurel and 6th
Porta-potties are abundant.