Everybody’s Irish for at least one day of the year. Organizers suggest wearing green and riding BART or Muni downtown to arrive at the hugely popular San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade on Saturday, March 12, 2016.
This year’s 165th annual parade will be the West Coast’s biggest, so it’s best to be on the early side for the 11:30 a.m. kick-off from Market Street and 2nd Street. Approximately 100,000 spectators are expected to line the route along Market Street proceeding south to Civic Center for a day-long Irish culture festival. Crowds generally tend to get thicker closer to Civic Center, so staking out your position closer to the start of the parade is a useful tip. As ever, all events are free and open to the public (expect an electronic security screening at the festival entry.)
Hosted by United Irish Societies of San Francisco, this year’s centennial theme is “Celebrating the 1916 Rising.” Watch for some of the favorites and make a note of this year’s potential parade award winners among 100-plus colorful floats. There’s plenty of pomp and circumstance as San Francisco native Grand Marshal Jerry Boyle leads the Stewart Tartan Fife and Dancers, twirling majorettes, Irish dance troupes, fabulous floats, drum & bell corps, decorated cable cars, antique cars, color guards, drill teams and flag teams to entertain onlookers as 100-plus contingents pass by accompanied by politicians, San Francisco fire fighters, police officers and civic groups.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrates and showcases the Irish community, culture and tradition. The San Francisco Irish community, has celebrated the birthday of the Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick, in every March since Gold Rush days began in 1849. Today, approximately one million Bay Area residents are of Irish heritage.
At the parade’s conclusion, a salute to Irish culture festival at Civic Center continues with a party all afternoon. The atmosphere is family-friendly, with booths representing the Irish community, Irish-themed food and refreshments, pony rides, Irish dancing, live music, games and inflatable and mechanical rides for children among the many activities.
St. Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade
Market Street, from 2nd to Civic Center
San Francisco, CA