The weather may be a bit chilly, but it's easy to bundle up and head out with your loved ones to have a fun St. Patrick's Day, a popular family day in Washington, D.C., which brings people together to share the culture of the Irish. Each year the nation's capital celebrates the holiday with a parade along Constitution Avenue on the Sunday before March 17.
A parade has been held in the city since 1971, and in 2020 five honorees will receive recognition as part of the 50th annual festivities on March 15 from 12 to 3 p.m. This special event, known as the Nation's St. Patrick's Day Parade, includes floats, marching groups, pipe bands, military, and police and fire departments, dancing, and lots of Irish spirit. The gathering—planned by the nonprofit organization St. Patrick’s Parade Committee of Washington, D.C.—features more than 100 community groups each year.
Officially celebrated on March 17, Saint Patrick's Day commemorates the fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop called the "Apostle of Ireland" as well as the arrival of Christianity in the European country. While not a legal holiday in the U.S., the day is widely recognized throughout the country as a way to honor Irish and Irish-American culture. Celebrations generally involve public parades and festivals, the wearing of green attire, eating the food of Ireland, and drinking Irish beers.
The St. Patrick's Day Parade usually runs along Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets NW in Washington, D.C. The grandstands are located between 15th and 16th Streets NW next to the judges' reviewing stand; check online in advance whether bleacher seats are available to purchase.
Constitution Avenue is located in the heart of Washington, D.C., and is accessible from the south via I-395; from the north via I-495; from the west via I-66 and Route 50; and from New York Avenue, Rock Creek Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and Cabin John Parkway.
Transportation and Parking
With the event attracting a large crowd, it is highly recommended that you take public transportation and arrive early. The best way to get to the parade is to take Metro subways to the Smithsonian Institution or Federal Triangle station stops on the orange/blue lines or the Archives/Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter Metro stop on the yellow/green lines. Parking is very limited in this area but there are several parking garages; the largest and closest to the parade route is located at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
What Else to Do in DC on St. Patrick's Day
Several communities across the capital region such as Maryland and Northern Virginia host a Saint Patrick's Day Parade and there are also plenty of places to eat. Visitors will also find happy hours, along with venues for pub crawling and watching live music.