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Saint Patrick's Day Parade and Festival

Details on the Annual Celebration in San Francisco

Every year, San Francisco is home to one of the largest Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in the world. The parade and festival draw more than 100,000 people.

Since it's so large, it's always held on a weekend. The 2017 event will be on Saturday, March 11.

About The Parade

The Saint Patrick's Day Parade features a number of local Irish dance companies, bands, and groups. You will also see many important San Francisco officials, politicians, police, and firemen.

The parade starts at 2nd and Market Street, then makes its way down Market to the Civic Center Plaza, the location of the festival. Below, you'll see the route they usually follow for the parade.

The parade starts around 11:30am and lasts about two hours. There is usually plenty of room to see the parade clearly along Market Street, but it gets more crowded the closer you get to Civic Center Plaza.

parade map in sf

Insider's Tip: If you are watching the parade with your kids, I recommend finding a spot around Market and McAllister. This is where the parade route turns to head to Civic Center. There is usually plenty of room here, so you don't have to fight the crowds to get a good look.

Here are just a few of pictures from previous years.

band saint pattys day parade

saint pattys parade sf

irish hounds in parade

colorful car in sf parade

irish dancers in parade

bagpipers sf parade

About the Festival

At the end of the parade route is the annual Irish Festival, which starts around 10am and lasts until 5pm. The festival is for all ages.

The main festival area is where you will find the food, beer, and live bands. Everyone is welcome to enjoy this area, but you will have to go through security to enter.

saint patricks festival

Here you'll find the typical street fair food vendors, as well as some Irish Pubs serving Irish nachos, bangers, and fish n' chips.

At this festival, the beer is also flowing. The beer booths have three options: a lighter beer, Guinness, and Irish Coffee. The lines are long, but you usually don't have to wait too long.

beer booth on saint patricks day

Outside food and drinks are not allowed inside the food area. They are strict on this and will not let you into this area if you have any food or drink with you.

There is one main stage at the festival where different Irish bands play all day long.

irish band at festival

Kids' Area at the Festival

There is another part of the festival just for children. This area includes games, candy, and other fun kid-friendly activities.

kids area st patricks festival

ride st patty's day festival sf

slide st. patricks festival

You will find the kids' activities and rides on Grove Street, which is south of Civic Center Plaza. You do not need to go through security to get to this point.

Keep in mind that although the parade and festival are family friendly, St. Paddy's Day does get a little crazy later in the afternoon.

I like to leave the festival no later than 4pm, so I can catch the bus or train to another neighborhood. This way I don't have to share too much space with those who've had a little too much to drink.

Other Fun Activities on Saturday, March 11

  • Twilight Cruise: Enjoy your evening on this 2-hour twilight cruise on the SF Bay. The cruise includes gorgeous views of SF, two trips under the Golden Gate Bridge, and a hearty appetizer buffet. There is seating both inside and out. Full price: $64, Goldstar price: $32. Book your tickets today.

  • SF Ballet: Watch a performance of the renowned SF Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House, very close to the St. Patrick's Day Festival. On this day, there are shows at 2pm and 8pm. Read more about the 2017 SF Ballet shows.

  • Ocean Film Festival: All weekend long at the Fort Mason Center, you can attend screenings of fascinating ocean-themed films, from animated to documentary, sharks to surfing. Click here to find out more.

Other Top Activities in March in SF

saint patty's events
irish pubs in sf
sf bus tours
Other Saint Patrick's
Day Activities
Best Irish
Pubs in SF
Top City
Bus Tours

Other Fun SF Festivals

Cherry Blossom Festival: One of the largest festivals every year is the spring Cherry Blossom Festival. Every April, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, it's time to celebrate. Over two weekends, the Japantown district comes to life with music, traditional Japanese cuisine, and more. This is one festival you don't want to miss!

Carnaval Festival: On Memorial Day weekend, you will find the colorful Carnaval Festival in SF's Mission District. This Latin American-inspired event offers Caribbean and Latin American food, dancing, and other entertainment. The highlight is the parade, which happens the Sunday morning before Memorial Day.

Annual Wine Tasting Festivals: Since we are so close to Northern California wine country, SF is often selected for large wine tasting events. Every year, you can sample zinfandel at the ZAP Festival, raise your glass of pinot at Pinot Days, and spice things up with tempranillo and other Spanish varieties at the TAP festival.

All Festivals & Street Fairs: You will find dozens of festivals and street fairs in SF all year long. Some of the most popular include the Pride Festival in June, the Fillmore Jazz Festival in July, and the Stern Grove Festival which lasts all summer long.

Tips to Save $$ on Your Tour and Event Tickets

One tip I love giving visitors is to check out Goldstar before purchasing your event and tour tickets. This online ticket retailer offers tickets at up to half-off for popular wine tasting events, theater performances, and comedy shows.

In addition, you will find great discounts on bay cruises, walking tours, and bus tours around the city. I use them all the time to save money, so I can see and do more.

At any given time, you will find tickets offered for around 200 events for San Francisco and the Bay Area. Click here for Goldstar's current selection. Also, check back often as they add new event tickets frequently!

Here are just a few of the most popular tickets.

  • 60-Minute Bay Cruise: Cruises around the bay, leaves from Fisherman's Wharf, several cruises a day, Full price $31, Goldstar price $18*

  • California Sunset Cruise: 2-hour evening cruise with a appetizer buffet, live music, and the chance to see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from the decks at night, leaves once a day from Fisherman's Wharf, Full price $64, Goldstar price $32-40*

  • Night Segway Tour: Ride around SF's most popular districts on this 2.5 hour tour, it starts with a training session so you are comfortable before you leave, you will then ride through Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach, and Chinatown, learn all about each district along the way from your knowledgeable guide, leaves once a night from Fisherman's Wharf, Full price $75, Goldstar $37.50*

*Small service fee at checkout.

> > St. Paddy's Day Parade & Festival

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