St Patrick's Day Parade DC

Washington DC St Patrick's Day Parade
March 11, 2012
Washington DC

Mid-March is a fine time to visit our nation’s capital. The worst of the winter weather is over, leaving just a little bit of a chill in the air (wear a coat). What little snow may have fallen over the winter is generally gone, leaving Washingtonians to prepare themselves for St. Patrick’s Day Parade. While New York City may have the more famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade, DC puts on the best one; after all, Washington knows a thing or two about parades! While many other cities also have a St. Patrick’s Day parade, DC can lay claim to the nation's parade.

st patricks day parade dcThe Parade

The parade route generally runs along Constitution Avenue (which would be called B Street if the city weren’t inexplicably bent on confusing visitors), between Seventh and Seventeenth Streets NW . The date is usually the Sunday before St Patrick’s Day. In 2011, it was held on the 13th; and, in 2012, it will be on the 11th . If you’re taking the Metro, the Federal Triangle Station is just one block north of the parade route. The Smithsonian and L’Enfant Plaza stations are located on the other side of the National Mall; and, from there, the walk isn’t too much longer and it’s a bit more scenic.

Even though this is Washington DC, the St Patrick’s Day Parade is not allowed to be turned into a forum for political statements—unlike New York. It’s a good time for the whole family, with pipe bands, marching bands, military, police, fire-department participation and, of course, hundreds of Irish and Irish-for-a-day marchers dressed in bright, green-colored clothing.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade was started in 1971 by DC’s Irish American Club , and it began as a much smaller affair involving only a few hundred participants. The original parade route went from Dupont Circle just a few blocks up Massachusetts Avenue. This tradition continued until 1974, when the Constitution Avenue route was established. Preparation for the event begins as early as September, and a dedicated staff of volunteers works up until the very last minute to ensure that the spectacle goes as planned.

Getting to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade DC

Driving into DC is a challenge. I-95 is the major traffic artery for the whole East Coast, connecting Boston and New York to Philly, Baltimore, and DC, and then continuing on to Jacksonville, Florida. The best way into Washington, DC is either to take the train to Union Station or to fly into Ronald Reagan National Airport. From there, you can take the Metro to wherever you’re staying. Hotels will likely be full around the time of the St Patrick’s Day Parade, DC being an expensive city to book a hotel room at any time of year. Therefore, it would be best to stay in a Dupont Circle vacation rental in Washington DC. Try to find a DC vacation rental near a Metro station, as DC is an even worse town to drive in than New York and Los Angeles combined! If you stay in Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, or downtown, you may find yourself within walking distance of the parade route.


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