Whether you and your family are Irish or not, immerse yourself and the kids in the beauty that is the Irish culture, cuisine, music and hospitality and check out one of these best family-friendly activities for St. Patrick’s Day in the D.C. area.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Constitution Ave., 7th to 17th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Date: March 6, 2014 at 12 p.m.
Perfect for the entire family, the 43rd annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place along a one-mile route via Constitution Avenue. The family-friendly event features Irish dancers and bagpipers as well as floats, marching bands, fire trucks, members of the military, police motorcycles and local celebrities. Come early and find the perfect spot along the parade route or reserve a spot among the grandstands. Due to limited available parking along the parade route, spectators are encouraged to take the Metro. The parade is scheduled to last two hours.
2400 E. Capitol St.
Washington, DC 20001
Date: March 22, 2014 at 3 p.m.
Popular among the over-21 crowd, the Shamrock Festival is also a family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day celebration destination. Check out more than 30 performers, including Dropkick Murphys, among seven performance stages and 13 huge party areas. The festival also includes plenty of new features including more fun and games including a zip line, mechanical bull, monster slide and jousting, the largest cornhole tournament in the mid-Atlantic, plenty of Irish food and drinks plus plenty of beer, including the green kind. The festival also features strolling entertainers, such as bagpipers and dancers, and a Washington National interactive experience area.
St. Patrick’s Day 8K and Lil’ Leprechaun Leap
Pennsylvania Ave., between 12th and 13th St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
Date: March 9, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.
For families that love to be active, head on over to the 26th annual St. Patrick’s Day 8K and Lil’ Leprechaun Leap sponsored by Pacers. The flat and fast-paced race will take participants through the streets of downtown DC, past popular museums and monuments and across from the National Mall. The start and finish line is located between 12th and 13th Streets near Freedom Plaza. A smaller, half-mile race will be conducted for the little ones. Form your own team or join an established team via the race website. Awards will be given to the top three teams in three categories—all male, all female and co-ed. Participants will receive a racing bib, timing chip and t-shirt in their participant packet.
Go Green: Shamrocks and Snakes
Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St.
Annandale, VA 22003
Date: March 15, 2014 at 2 p.m.
For an educational St. Patrick’s Day experience, grab the kids and head over to the Hidden Oaks Nature Center where you will find Irish music and stories, including the interesting legend of why snakes are hard to find in Ireland. Then, get the chance to check out live snakes that are found here. Participants must be at least four years old. The Hidden Oaks Nature Center also features live animal displays, a climbing “tree,” a loft/puppet stage, a resource library, a 1/3-acre unstructured woodland play area and a rain garden. Reservations required. Visit the Fairfax County Parktakes website for more information and to register.
716 Eastern Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21202
Date: Mar. 16, 2014 at 10:30 a.m.
Dance to live Celtic music, enjoy delicious foods from popular food trucks and enjoy fun games and activities all at the third annual Shamrock Shindig located at Pier V at Pierce’s Park. This family-friendly event features strolling leprechauns and bands, stilt walkers, activities for the kids and beer, wine and mixed drinks for the adults. Admission to the event is free. Purchase a Shamrock Pass for the kids and receive a shamrock derby hat, green beads, an Irish button, flag and bracelet, two crafts, a temporary tattoo and cookie decorating. The event kicks off at 11 a.m. Plan your trip in advance as many major roads will be closed due to the 58th annual Baltimore St. Patrick’s Day parade, which is being held the same day as the festival.
Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.