It may sit a long way from Killarney, but California has plenty of reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with panache. Not only does the state’s Gold Rush history include many Irish immigrants, but California has become a beer mecca that easily competes with the ales of the old country. Here are 10 celebrations across the Golden State (most on Saturday, March 16) where you can wear your green or raise your glass among good company.
March 15–17: Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
The East Bay city of Dublin takes its namesake status quite seriously, throwing a three-day party centered around its Civic Center with Irish music, authentic Irish food and drink, 200-plus vendors booths and a pop-up Irish tea cottage. The weekend also includes a parade and pancake breakfast on Saturday and a 5K fun run on Sunday morning.
March 16: St. Patrick's Day Parade & Irish Festival, San Diego
Fittingly, San Diego’s salute to St. Patrick and Ireland (supposedly the biggest parade west of the Mississippi) takes place next to the city’s biggest green space: Balboa Park. The route, comprised of 120 bands, floats, and acts, is also convenient to the Irish Festival going on in the park most of the day, with its three stages of Irish dancers and folks singers, along with a Celtic Food village and beer garden. Later in the day , move your celebration to the Gaslamp Quarter, where the ShamRock block party goes on outside Irish pub The Field.
The Queen Mary St. Patrick’s Day Eve Pub Stroll, Long Beach
This retired 1934 ocean liner, permanently docked in Long Beach, may technically have Scottish roots (it was built there), but that doesn’t stop it from hosting its own Irish pub crawl, in which the ship’s historic salons and spaces are turned into pubs. The evening includes live music and Irish cuisine; to make it last even longer book a stateroom at the ship’s onboard hotel.
Sir Patrick's Day, Hollywood
Saint Patrick may have rid Ireland of snakes, but Sir Patrick Stewart is an equally impressive figure to Star Trek and X-Men fans. The sci-fi themed bar Scum & Villainy Cantina raises its glass to Sir Patrick all day with trivia games and specialty cocktails, like the Sonic Scream and Vulcan Blood.
St. Patrick’s Brew Crawl, Pleasanton
Sample craft beers and ciders from more than 25 locations in the downtown area of this Tri-Valley town. Brews include plenty of northern California beermakers such as 21st Amendment, Altamont Beer Works, Epidemic Ales, and Lost Coast Brewery.
168th St. Patrick’s Day Parade, San Francisco
Now celebrating its 168th year, this parade at City Hall is the oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in California—outfitted with Irish dancing troupes, floats, and marching bands. As part of March’s Women’s History Month theme, this year’s theme is “Women Breaking Barriers,” with Mayor London Breed as its Grand Marshal. The United Irish Cultural Center, near Golden Gate Park, throws a post-parade Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner on Saturday and its own block party on Sunday.
St. Patrick’s Beer Crawl, Benicia
Main Street in this North Bay seaside village offers its own St. Patty’s Day crawl, with 18 stops at local businesses, featuring both St. Patrick’s Day classics like Guinness, along with California brews such as Bear Republic and Calicraft Coast.
This Gold Rush town in Calaveras County was founded in 1848 by two Irish immigrants, and every year the locals still celebrate their collective luck of the Irish. The day includes a parade of bagpipes, classic cars, and horses, as well as a street fair and many chances to taste the current natural resource: its excellent wine.
Now in its 22nd year, this parade winds through the most historic section of the capital city. Come watch the Highland dancers, pipe and drum players, and historic re-enactors marching along the waterfront and through the national historic landmark district.
March 17: Casey’s St. Patrick’s Day Street Festival, Los Angeles
There are St. Patrick’s Day parties all over Los Angeles, but this annual, four-block-long street party in downtown L.A. seriously goes big. It kicks off at 11 a.m., featuring more than 400 kegs of beer, 1,200 bottles of Jameson, dozens of bartenders, 12 hours of DJ sets, and traditional Irish cuisine. Host pub Casey’s actually opens at 6 a.m. that day; come between 6 and 11 a.m. and you get in free; after that it costs $20. (Note: this party is for ages 21 and up.) Not far away, the Grand Central Market offers its own Irish specials on Sunday, like the corned beef from Shasta Cascade-based Belcampo.