Get ready for the biggest Irish celebration in town!

It’s time to paint the town green!  Join us on Saturday, March 11th, as the Fort Lauderdale St. Patrick’s Parade and Festival marches into downtown featuring fun and excitement for the entire family!

The free event has grown into one of Fort Lauderdale’s largest and most anticipated festivals, attracting thousands of spectators for a one-of-a-kind celebration of all things Irish.

This year, the pageantry and excitement begins bright and early at 7:30 am with the Shamrock Run, a four mile race down Las Olas to the Intracoastal Bridge and back.  The Shamrock 4-Miler will be followed by a series of “Lucky Leprechaun Dashes” for kids. To register, visit www.shamrock-run.com.

Festivities will continue throughout the morning hours at Huizenga Plaza with live music from the Joe Dougherty Band, a drum line competition at 10 am showcasing top percussionists from local high schools, and plenty of fun and games for the kids.  At 11 am, join Fort Lauderdale Mayor John P. “Jack” Seiler for an official welcome and a traditional Irish Blessing.  Then, it’s time for the largest St. Patrick’s Parade in South Florida.

The St. Patrick’s Parade begins at noon and travels west along Las Olas Boulevard from S.E. 5th Avenue to Las Olas Riverfront.  The colorful parade will feature more than 100 decorative floats, pipe and drum corps, classic automobiles, bagpipers, marching bands, animals, Irish dancers, street performers, scout troops, local sports teams, Veterans groups, and much more!

Following the parade, stick around for the St. Patrick’s Festival, which runs until 7:00 pm at Huizenga Plaza and along the Riverwalk.  Highlights will include live bands, Irish dancers, interactive entertainment, and cultural attractions.  Featured performers will include: American Legion Symphonic Band, The Sky Family Band, Kelly Academy of Irish Dance, Fineans, Aranmore Academy of Irish Dance, Celtic Bridge, Drake School of Irish Dance.

At 5:30 pm, get ready for the ultimate U2 experience as the City of Fort Lauderdale welcomes U2BYUV to the St. Patrick’s Festival for a return engagement!  Led by front man Michael Schmidt, this nationally acclaimed group will leave fans speechless with their honest, authentic performances.  The band’s intense, action-packed sets feature U2 favorites ranging from the early days of “Boy” to “Songs of Innocence” and everything in between.

In addition to outstanding entertainment, families and youngsters will love the festival’s expanded Kids Zone featuring bounce houses, gigantic slides, pony rides, a trackless train, face painting, a petting zoo, mechanical rides, and much more!

The festivities will also include exhibitor booths, arts and crafts, souvenirs, merchandise, and plenty of your favorite Irish food and beverages.

So make plans to arrive early, grab a great viewing spot, and enjoy the best Irish celebration in town.  And don’t forget to wear your green!

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