You’re in luck: The 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is heading to Balboa Park this weekend, celebrating Irish culture.
The family-friendly fest, presented by the Irish Congress of Southern California (ICSC) since March 1981, will run from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the parade slated to start at 10:30 a.m.
The parade route starts up Fifth Avenue – from Laurel to Upas streets – and then back down Sixth Avenue to Laurel Street. The procession will feature more than 120 entries, including marching bands, floats, bagpipe performers, dance troupes, drill teams, antique cars and police and fire department units.
The day’s events include live entertainment on two stages, live music in a beer garden and vendors selling all things Irish. There are plenty of activities for the kids, too, including rides, games, face-painting, live performances and an art display by South Bay elementary school students.
Organizers say the main stages at the fest will be located on the west side of Sixth Avenue and the north side of Laurel Street and Prado. A special flag presentation ceremony at Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street will kick off the festivities.
Irish food will also be a big part of the event, with the “Celtic Food Village” area offering a taste of the Emerald Isle from four of San Diego’s best Irish chefs. For $5 per item, festival-goers can taste traditional Irish dishes including hearty Irish stew, corned beef sandwiches, shepherd’s pie and sausage rolls.
This year’s entertainment lineup includes bands like The ShamRockers and the Irish Rockin’ Rebels. The ShamRockers have been playing the festival since 1983.
A large turnout is expected at the event and parking at Balboa Park will be limited. Attendees can get to the fest via hop-on/hop-off San Diego Old Town Trolley service, which will operate from two locations within Balboa Park all day – from the San Diego Air and Space Museum parking lot to the parade and fest, and from Fifth Avenue between Juniper and Upas streets. Attendees can also make their way to Balboa Park on public transit via MTS’ buses or trolleys.