Portland’s St. Patrick’s Parade will take place Sunday, even though St. Patrick’s Day is Tuesday. Jill Brady/Staff Photographer.

Why celebrate the spirit of the Irish for just one day, when you can do it for a whole weekend?

St. Patrick’s Day falls on Tuesday this year, meaning some folks might be less likely to go all out reveling, knowing they have to go to work or school the next morning. Luckily, a lot of St. Patrick’s Day events in southern Maine are starting early, like the weekend before. Many of them are family friendly daytime events, like Portland’s annual St. Patrick’s Parade, which would be sort of difficult to hold on a weekday.

So if you want a big Irish breakfast or corned beef and cabbage, or to hear some Irish music, raise an Irish flag or see parading Irish dancers, you can do all those things this weekend. Keep in mind you can still find lots of happenings on St. Patrick’s Day itself, too.

Here, then, are some weekend options for getting in your St. Patrick’s Day reveling, with time left to rest up for the work week.

The Irish flag will be raised from the top of the Portland Observatory during a ceremony Saturday. Photo courtesy of The Maine Irish Heritage Center


Portland will be officially designated as Irish on Saturday when the Irish flag is raised from the top of the Portland Observatory, on Congress Street near the top of Munjoy Hill. The official ceremony is free to observe and begins at 12:50 p.m. when Tom Ryan of the Claddagh Mhor Pipe Band plays the pipes for those in attendance. There will be some short speeches about the observatory and Portland’s Irish history, then some local youngsters selected to do the raising will climb to the top of the 220-foot tower. They’ll be accompanied by a photographer and someone from Greater Portland Landmarks, which manages the 213-year-old observatory. At 1:20 p.m., the flag will fly and pipes will play. Onlookers will not be allowed into the observatory, as it’s closed for the season for tours. It opens again in May. Maineirish.com


NOTE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED. Another family friendly event is the Irish American Club of Maine’s St. Patrick’s Parade, on Commercial Street in Portland. It kicks off at noon Sunday. Some 400 or more marchers will start at the Portland Fish Pier and proceed toward the city’s East End, finishing at the Maine State Pier. The list of parade participants this year includes a half-dozen floats, a dozen or so fire trucks, police cars and other vehicles, three pipe and drum bands, a half-dozen mascots, and folks dressed as superheroes. There will also be members of the Coast Guard, local sports teams, unions and nonprofit groups. The last couple years, the free parade has drawn 3,000 or more spectators. Seeing Slugger the Sea Dog, mascot of the Portland Sea Dogs baseball team, dressed all in green is always a treat. Irishofmaine.org

Following Sunday’s parade, people are invited to a party at the Maine Irish Heritage Center, at the corner of Gray and State streets in Portland, from 1-3 p.m. There will be Irish food, music and dancing for free, plus a cash bar. Maineirish.com

Bull Feeney’s in Portland will be serving up Irish brunch and dinners Saturday and Sunday, along with Irish music. Photo by Doug Fuss


Bull Feeney’s restaurant and pub on Fore Street in Portland has a whole week of St. Patrick’s Day festivities planned, beginning on March 11, with the performance of Irish pub songs. On Friday, the place will have a special on whiskey, including 52 Irish whiskies, at 20 percent off. On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they’ll be serving an Irish brunch (also known as Ulster Fry) with menu items including Irish bacon, blood sausage, baked beans, roasted tomatoes, Irish soda bread and corned beef Benedict. They’ll also serve Irish boiled dinners of corned beef and cabbage all day long, plus the regular Irish dishes on the menu, like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie. Entertainment both days includes live Irish pub songs and Irish music. Also, on Sunday, from 3 to 5 p.m., people will be able to have a photo of themselves printed into the foamy head of a pint a Guinness. It makes for a unique St. Patrick’s Day-themed social media post. Bullfeeneys.com

Ri Ra, an Irish Pub on Commercial Street, will be have rugby matches on TV on Saturday. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer


As part of its Paddy Fest, Ri Ra Irish Pub and Restaurant on Commercial Street in Portland will have rugby matches on TV all day Saturday. Games begin at 10:15 a.m. with Wales versus Scotland. Ireland takes on France at 4 p.m. On Sunday at 3 p.m., Ri Ra will host a session of Irish music. Rira.com


If you’d rather sample several pubs during your St. Patrick’s Day celebration, try out the St. Patrick’s Bar Crawl in Portland.  The crawl starts at 8 p.m. Saturday. You get to visit four Old Port watering holes – Bull Feeney’s, Foreplay, Oasis and the Old Port Tavern. The cost is $20 per person. As of press time, details were still being worked out, and organizers had posted on Facebook asking people what they’d like the crawl to include. Facebook: Portland Bar Crawls.

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