Happy St. Patrick's Day

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in San Francisco

St. Patrick’s Day has become a celebration of all things Irish. But who was St. Patrick? Learn why St. Patrick became a figure larger than life and how the festivities have changed over the centuries.

Most public celebrations include quite large quantities of alcohol. Many families serve corned beef, cabbage, and mint chocolate pies every year on March 17th. And some cities like Chicago turn large bodies of water green to commemorate the life of St. Patrick. In San Francisco, we don’t have a river to turn green, nor a history of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day like some other cities (we’re looking at you Boston), but what we don’t need is an excuse to celebrate this Irish holiday. San Franciso embraces all celebrations in a spectacular way.

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St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day parade dates back to 1852, so this is the place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on the West Coast. Again this year, the festival and parade will be held at the Civic Center Plaza, in front of City Hall. The 2019 celebration is set for Saturday, March 16. Learn about Irish history and culture while drinking beer in front of the Mayor’s Office. The highlight of the event is the Saint Patrick’s Day parade which starts at 11am. The parade route begins at 2nd and Market streets and heads straight down Market Street all the way to Civic Center Plaza near San Francisco City Hall, where the festival will be taking place. The festival includes Irish music, dancing, and a never-ending supply of beer. The festival starts at 10am and closes around 5pm that afternoon. Learn More

St Patrick's Day Parade

Celebrate the holiday and drink your green beer at some of the top pubs in the city.  A St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl is highly recommended for maximum fun.

Tilden Hotel’s Top 5:

#1 The Irish Bar Bank & Restaurant

If you can only go to one pub this St. Patrick’s Day, make Irish Bank that pub. It can be found snugly nestled in its own lane in the heart of downtown San Francisco. Get ready to rock, roll and dance under the stars. The Irish Bank’s Annual St Patrick’s Day Block Party is the largest St Patricks day Party in San Francisco!

Saturday, March 17: Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Block Party

  • Doors open at 9am
  • Party =starts at noon and runs until midnight
  • Live entertainment all day long
  • The Watch play Noon – 2:15pm
  • The Shams play 2:45 – 5pm
  • The Quiet Men Play 5:30-7:45pm
  • DJ from 8pm to Midnight
  • $10 Door Charge

The Irish Bank is located at 10 Mark Lane in the Financial District. Visit Website

#2 Buena Vista Cafe

An Irish Coffee is a must on St. Patrick’s Day and this is the spot.  The Buena Vista San Francisco opened as a saloon in 1916. In Spanish, the words ‘buena vista’ translates to ‘good view’. The cafe is just a block from the San Francisco bay and was named for its great views of the water. For years, it was a popular spot for the local fishermen and others working along the San Francisco bay. However, the introduction of the Irish Coffee here was what made it famous throughout the US. Irish Coffee was originally created by Joe Sheridan at the Shannon Airport in Ireland. In 1952, the owner of the Buena Vista San Francisco, Jack Koeppler, wanted to serve it in his cafe. He enlisted Stan Delaplane, an international travel writer and another lover of the famed cocktail, to help him recreate the recipe. For months, the two worked together without success. After one more visit to the Shannon Airport, the two had what they needed. Their Irish Coffee recipe was officially introduced in November of 1952. People loved the new cocktail and the reputation of the cafe grew.  Today, people still flock to the Buena Vista to try its famous Irish Coffee. Get in the Irish spirit on Saint Patrick’s Day at the Buena Vista Cafe. All day long, they will be serving up corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and other Buena Vista favorites. And…of course, make sure to enjoy at least one of their Irish Coffees during your visit! They are open from 8am to 2am on Sunday, March 17.


Irish Coffee

Visit Website

#3 Johnny Foley’s Irish House

Stumbling distance from Tilden Hotel and Established in 1998, Johnny Foley’s is a replica of many of the exact pubs you will see in Ireland. Located in Union Square, it is square in the middle of the hustle and bustle. On Sunday, go down to the basement to watch and listen to the dueling pianos. Located at 243 O’Farrell Street – visit website

#4 The Chieftain Irish Pub & Restaurant

Named after the first High King of Ireland, Brian Boru and more recent Chieftain, Michael Collins, The Chieftain’s identity is intertwined with the 50 million Americans who claim some Irish heritage. The Chieftain offers 20 of the World’s finest beers on tap, including an outstanding 20 oz. “Perfect Pint” of Guinness! We’ll be right there… located on 198 5th Street. Visit Website

#5 Irish Times

Usually packed during happy hour as this place ushers in the hard working folk of the Financial District. On Sunday, this place will be wall-to-wall of people downing $1 oysters and drinking green beer. Yes, we said $1 oysters. Located on  500 Sacramento St. – Visit Website

2019 LepraCon: St. Patrick’s Pub Crawl

The Lepra-con San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl is back again for 2019 with killer drink specials and a huge list of bars where you can enjoy all the green beer, cocktails and shots that you can drink. There will be 3 days of Pub Crawling Fun:

Friday, March 15: 6 pm to 11 pm – Mayes- 1233 Polk Street
Saturday, March 16: 11 am to 8 pm – Broadway at Polk (Saturday Only)
Sunday, March 17: 2 pm to 8 pm – Mayes- 1233 Polk Street

More Information & Tickets on Eventbrite

But who was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and is one of the most celebrated figures in modern Christianity. He was born to British aristocrats in the late fourth century; as in most aristocratic families at that time, Patrick as a later son was destined for the priesthood in order to bring tax incentives to his wealthy family. When he was 16 years old, he was captured by Irish raiders and held for six years. During this time, he became much more spiritual as he was a lonely shepherd and required his faith to keep him strong. After six years in County Mayo, Patrick heard a voice, that he believed to be God’s, telling him to leave Ireland (as was indicated in his writings many years later). He walked hundreds of miles to the coast where he was able to escape to Britain. He was then ordained into the priesthood. He returned to Ireland as a priest, as the majority of Irish were at that time Pagan.

Patrick’s time in captivity in Ireland had influenced him greatly and he brought many Irish customs to his parishioners. He began celebrating Easter with a large bonfire, following the Irish practice of honoring their gods with fire. And he created the Celtic Cross by superimposing the image of a sun onto the cross. St. Patrick died in 460 AD, and it is largely believed that he died on March 17th. As time went on, St. Patrick’s legend grew throughout the United Kingdom and particularly in Ireland. He became a figure that was larger than life, and it is believed he completed many near-impossible feats, including the driving out of the snakes and abolishment of the Druids at Tara. His influence on everything Christian in Ireland; however, is unmistakable. He can be singularly credited for spreading Christianity throughout all of Ireland.

The first St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in New York City on March 17, 1762. Irish soldiers serving in the British Army in the American Colonies marched through the streets of New York to celebrate their Irish homeland from which they had long since been away. St. Patrick’s Cathedral stands in Manhattan as a majestic reminder of the history of Irish people in New York City.

As America grew, so did its Irish population. Throughout the late 18th century, Irish Aid societies like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick would hold annual parades celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. These parades came to include bagpipes and drums, even though bagpipes were known more as a Scottish custom than Irish.

When the Great Potato Famine hit in 1845, almost a million poor Irishmen streamed into America. Unlike their middle-class Protestant predecessors, these immigrants were Catholic and often uneducated. They found great difficulty in finding work, and were ridiculed in public and in the press as drunken monkeys with undecipherable accents. During this time, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations grew decidedly more subdued.

By the early 20th century; however, the Irish population in the United States came to realize that they were large in number and thus had voting power. They began to court public opinion and became quite a political machine. When Harry S. Truman attended the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1948, many Irish-Americans knew that they were at last an accepted part of American culture.

In Ireland itself, St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally a religious holiday. In fact, until the mid-1970’s, Irish law dictated that all pubs and bars had to be closed. By 1995; however, the Irish government began to use St. Patrick’s Day as a driver for tourism as people all over the world clamored for all things Irish. St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin now draws over 1 million people in a multi-day celebration with parades, concerts, and fireworks.

In homes throughout the world, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with the traditional Irish feast of corned beef (also known as Irish bacon), cabbage, and soda bread. Many of these families end the night with some coffee with Irish crème, and a chocolate pie or cake liberally saturated with mint flavoring. These traditions are passed from generation to generation and are revered as much as if not more so than the alcoholic debauchery that is known so well.


St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with enthusiasm and glee throughout the Ireland and many other places, including the United States, Great Britain, Argentina, Australia and Argentina. There are different traditions followed that make the event a grand affair, a few of them include:

1.    Parades: Parades are an important part of the felicitations of the St. Patrick’s Day. People from various regions, communities and places take part in the parades wearing different costumes and performing various activities to make the celebrations memorable. The celebrations are grand in the capital city, Dublin.

2.    Tri-Colored Costumes: The tradition of wearing the tri-colored (green, white and orange) costumes are followed by the people of the Ireland. In some parts, children even dress up in the tri-colored costumes and color their faces with the same as well.

3.    4-Day Celebration in Dublin: Dublin celebrates this religious event for 4 days and witnesses visitors from all over the globe. Parades, live music performances, open air theatres, traditional dances and bagpipe bands are the part of these celebrations.

4.    The Shamrock tradition: A shamrock is another aspect of the traditions that are being followed during this event. Wearing a green shamrock is considered to be good as it symbolises peace and happens to be the attire of St. Patrick.

5.    Sharing Corned Beef: The tradition of sharing corned beef is followed from the 17th Each year , thousands of Irish Americans gather and share food to commemorate St. Patrick’s Day. It is majorly followed in the New York City and all the Irish people celebrate it whole heartedly.


One Comment

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