I can trace my roots back to the exact town in Ireland my family is from, and many other Irish-Americans can do just the same. Even Pedro Menendez, founder of St. Augustine, had some Irish heritage in him, being from a Celtic region of Spain. This little bit of information makes the Celtic Music and Heritage Festival even more relevant to the historic town of Saint Augustine. Whether you're Irish or honorary Irish for the day, there's lots to do in St. Augustine around St. Patrick's Day to celebrate Celtic heritage.
The festivities will begin Friday March 10th, kicking off with a Whiskey Tasting as part of the Celtic Music and Heritage Festival. You'll learn the right way to taste various whiskeys, along with a little background information on each sample.
On Saturday, March 11th, at 10 am, St. Augustine's St. Patrick's Day Parade will take place, complete with floats, bands, Irish step dancing and other groups celebrating the "wearing of the green." One of my favorite parts of this holiday is the parade. Everyone wearing green, silly shamrock headbands and hats, bagpipes, Irish flags- it's just so much fun!
The Highland Games begin on that same day and include everything from the Scottish hammer throw to the caber toss, all carried out by kilt wearing athletes. These heavy athletics are held to celebrate Scottish and Celtic culture in many countries and have been carried out for almost a thousand years. It will be exciting to see men and women throwing a 19-foot pine log in the caber toss; imagine the strength and training these individuals must endure.
What is a St. Patrick's Day celebration without good music? Throughout Saturday and Sunday there will be two stages of Celtic music performers to keep the Irish eyes smiling. At the Celtic Heritage and Music Festival you can also experience traditional foods of the Celts, shop the vendors, and enjoy arts and crafts.
It's no wonder the sense of community you feel in an Irish pub; many Irish-Americans are only second or third generation immigrants, and their pride runs deep. Donovan's, Meehan's, Ann O'Malley's, Shaughnessy's, and Barley Republic will all be celebrating St. Patrick's Day in full swing on March 17th with bands, drink specials, and a massive supply of corned beef.
If the Irish pubs are packed, there are a number of other restaurants celebrating St. Patrick's Day. The Conch House Restaurant, A1A Ale Works and Sunset Grille will all be serving corned beef and cabbage
, and green beer. Oasis Deck and Restaurant will feature bagpipers, bands, green beer, and maybe even a leprechaun.
River dance, listening to The Chieftains with my Dad, and constantly searching for four leaf clovers played an important part in making me into the person I am today, as it did for many Irish-American. It's great to experience and relive Irish step dancing, food, art, and culture with St. Patrick's Day festivities in St. Augustine. Sláinte!
Local St. Augustine blogger Meaghan Alvarado is a Flagler College graduate who writes on many topics ranging from fashion and food to crafts and local St. Augustine happenings. Check back here at Augustine.com regularly to see the great events and activities Meaghan will be writing about next, and check out her personal blog at http://justmeaghan.com/.