Last Updated on February 11, 2024 by Maggie McKneely
Will you be spending St. Patrick’s Day in DC? Check out this list of great ways to celebrate (that are more than just drinking green beer!)
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Best Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in DC
Travel blogging isn’t my only hobby. I’m also an Irish Dancer, so St. Patricks’s Day is near and dear to my heart – it’s basically the Super Bowl of the Irish Dance world. It’s also the one day of the year when it’s considered appropriate and wholesome entertainment for small children to bounce around in pubs surrounded by cheering adults who’ve had one (or two, or three…) too many green beers.
That being said, while St. Patty’s day is usually considered to be an excuse to get fantastically drunk, not all of us prefer to celebrate that way. This is a holiday for a saint, after all! But when looking for ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in DC, the majority of events I found are bar crawls. I’m no teetotaler (considering how much time I spend at wineries and on whisky tours), and St. Pats should definitely include a Guinness or two, but I prefer to have fun without being out of commission the next day.
So for everyone looking for something to do in March besides bar-hopping, I put together a list of ways to celebrate St. Patricks’s Day in DC that are more than just drinking green beer.
Ways to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in DC
Jigs & Swigs
Jigs & Swigs is a combination of several of my favorite things: Irish dance, fitness, and breweries. And their March class is the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in DC!
Jigs & Swigs is an Irish-dance-inspired fitness class that’s suitable for people who know nothing about dance to those who compete at the world champion level. The class takes iconic elements of Irish dance (like posture and footwork) and puts them into easy-to-follow patterns for a fun, hour-long workout.
It’s all about having a great time, getting a little sweaty, meeting new people, and supporting local businesses. Each class is held at various breweries around the country and the one in DC is located at Atlas Brew Works. After the class, each participant gets a pint of beer on the house as their reward (see, it’s not JUST about the beer!).
Classes are held on the second Sunday of every month, and the March 10th class is sure to be a party! Get your tickets here.
Alexandria St. Patrick’s Day Parade
There are a number of St. Patty’s Day parades in the DC area, but the oldest and largest is the one in Old Town Alexandria. The parade features pipe bands, Irish dance schools, various community groups, and other musicians and performers. It’s a wonderful free, family-friendly way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in DC.
The parade will be on March 2nd at 12:15 – for full details, go here.
St. Patrick’s Day Tour about DC’s famous Irishmen
Calling all history lovers, this one is for you! Ed Moser is a DC author and historian who leads several popular tours in the district. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in DC, he’s offering a tour around the White House all about notable Irishmen (and women!) who played a role in shaping the United States. On this tour, you’ll learn about the Irish architect who designed the White House, Elvis’s Irish heritage, presidents and politicos of Irish descent, and many more.
The tour will be on March 17th, 2023 at 5:30 PM. Get your tickets here.
Ireland at the Wharf
The Wharf is DC’s swanky new waterfront district in Southeast. Stocked with a boardwalk and lots of high-profile restaurants and event venues, it’s the perfect place for an Irish festival. On March 16, Ireland at the Wharf will feature bagpipers, bands, Guinness, and lots of whiskies. It’s free and open to all ages (but must be 21+ to have alcohol, obviously).
St. Patrick’s Day really wouldn’t be complete without a beer and some shepherd’s pie. Fortunately, DC has a rich Irish heritage and lots of pubs to choose from. Here are the best ones to visit and how they’re marking the holiday:
Opened in 1974 across from Union Station, The Dubliner is DC’s oldest and most established Irish pub. And it’s St. Patrick’s Day party is legendary. They offer live music all day and 49¢ Guinness pours from 9-10 AM.
Kelly’s Irish Times
Another mainstay of DC’s Irish scene, Kelly’s Irish Times is famous for its time capsule wall, with artifacts representing over 100 years of Irish history.
Kirwan’s on the Wharf
As the Wharf’s token Irish pub, Kirwan’s is the host of Ireland at the Wharf. But if you’re not interested in the festival, it’s a great pub to stop into for your fill of drink and lamb stew! They will have live music and Irish dancer throughout St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
Guinness Open Gate Brewery
Technically, it’s in Baltimore. But as the only Guinness brewery outside of Ireland, Baltimore is close enough for a trip here to be a great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in DC. The brewery regularly offers guided tours and tastings and is hosting a number of St. Patrick’s Day events throughout the month of March.
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