San Francisco is an incredibly diverse city that is also a major tourist destination, so it’s no surprise that over 100,000 people will take part in this city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is the largest St. Patrick’s Day event west of the Mississippi and has been going strong since 1852. For a long time, the Irish were the largest ethnic group in San Francisco. As the population moved out of the area, the popularity of the event has stayed strong, though.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of the various St. Patrick’s Day festivities in San Francisco. It’s so much more than just a parade!
When and Where
Because the event is so large and popular, the parade is held on a weekend instead of on the traditional day itself. In 2016, the parade will be held on Saturday, March 12th. The parade starts at around 11:30 AM and usually lasts a couple of hours.
You’ll also want to plan on spending time at the festival that accompanies the parade (more info below).
Best Spot for Viewing the Parade
If you have kids with you, this area is probably your top choice.
What is the Food and Drink Situation?
In addition to places along the route, you’ll find plenty of food, drinks, and beer (Guinness!) at the St. Patrick’s Day Festival which is located at the Civic Center, where the parade ends.
You’ll also find Irish coffee if you prefer your alcohol to be coffee-flavored.
You can bring your own food and refreshments, but you aren’t allowed to enter the food area with outside supplies. So if you want some green beverages to accompany your homemade corned beef sandwich, you’ll need to send in a friend or something.
Is the Festival Kid Friendly?
This is probably one of the most family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day events. You’ll find the children’s area on Grover Street which is just south of the plaza. They can burn off some extra energy while participating in games and going on rides.
They’ll also find candy to help them refuel when it’s time to leave.
What Else is Happening at the Festival?
The festival starts at 9 AM and runs until 5 PM. This year the theme is Celebrating the 1916 Uprising.
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just about wearing green and dressing like a leprechaun. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about Irish culture, and the festival will offer some fun ways to do just that.
In addition to food and beverage vendors, there will be live music and performances, like traditional Irish dance, at the main stage throughout the day.
It’s a good idea to leave the festivities before 4 PM. As the day goes on, the number of people can get much larger and a bit more wild. When things get closed down and people are leaving en masse, human and vehicle traffic can get really crazy.
You can always continue your St. Paddy festivities in a nearby Irish restaurant anyway.