Florida may not look like Ireland, but that doesn’t stop its residents and visitors from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in a big way. There are a wide range of celebrations and events throughout the Sunshine State that feature everything from green beer and corned beef to Irish dancing and games.
Hollywood parade and festival
Running for 14 years, this family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day celebration starts with a traditional parade featuring the famous New York Police Department Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps. The parade starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, and makes its way down Hollywood Boulevard and Harrison Street. Other attractions include UV - The U2 Tribute Show at 19th Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard, and lots of activities for the kids like the Lucky Roll Giant Dice Game and the End of the Rainbow Maze. For more information call 954-921-3404 or visit www.stpatricksparade.com.
Irish Fest West Palm Beach
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012, this downtown West Palm Beach event features numerous music and dance performances and a marketplace devoted to Irish culture. Music performers include The Young Wolfe Tones, the Prodigals, Seven Nations and Paddy Noonan. The Irish Marketplace has gifts and products for sale by Irish crafters, artists and vendors. Hours are noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, with a Gaelic mass at 11 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults; children under 14 are free. Call 954-946-1093 or go to www.Irishflorida.org for more information.
O’Keefe’s Irish Festival in Clearwater
Staged at O’Keefe’s Family Tavern & Grill in Clearwater on Saturday, March 17, this fun-filled celebration has lots to offer. Heading the list of Irish food and drink are green beer, corned beef and cabbage, Mulligan Stew and Shepherd's Pie. Entertainment includes bagpipers, Irish dancers, fire performers and rock bands. Billed as “Florida’s largest St. Patrick’s Day Celebration," the event takes place in a 10,000-square-foot tent, where they served up more than two tons of corned beef last year. O’Keefe’s is located at 1219 S. Fort Harrison Ave. For details call 727-442-9034 or check out www.okeefestavernonline.com.
Naples St. Patrick’s Day parade
One of the state’s longest-running Irish celebrations, the Naples St. Patrick’s Day parade is in its 34th year. A flag-raising celebration on Crayton Cove is followed by the parade at 11 a.m., which weaves through downtown from Third Street to Fifth Avenue, then down Eighth Street South and ending at Crayton Cove. Visit www.stpatricksparadenaples.com to learn more.
St. Patrick’s Day Carillon Concert in Lake Wales
Located at BOK Tower Gardens, a National Historic Landmark in Lake Wales that's about a one-hour drive from Orlando, the Singing Tower carillon performs your favorite Irish tunes from 1-3 p.m. on March 17. Call 863-676-1408 or visit www.boktowergardens.org/calendar/st-patricks-day-carillon-concerts.
Why not add some sunshine to your St. Patrick's Day celebration and enjoy all that Florida has to offer? From the Panhandle to the Keys, you're sure to find something that'll bring out the Irish in you.