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Two-day, family-friendly ‘Paddy Fest St. Pete’ takes over downtown this weekend

Two-day, family-friendly ‘Paddy Fest St. Pete’ takes over downtown this weekend

People at an outdoor festival

Get your shamrocks ready – Paddy Fest is back in downtown St. Pete. After the success of last year’s inaugural event, the 2nd annual Paddy Fest is doubling the fun with two full days of FREE, family-friendly activities, taking place this Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17, from 12-9 pm in Williams Park.

As St. Pete’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day festival, the entire weekend is a celebration of all things Celtic, complete with tons of Irish food (corned beef, anyone?), Irish whiskey and beer (helloooo, Guinness), and live Irish music, including multiple sets from the world champion Dunedin Pipe Band. See the full performance schedule below.

A new highlight this year is a 7,500 square foot Celtic Games exhibition, where festival attendees are invited to try the traditional games themselves while also enjoying professional performances from the foundation of Scottish Athletes. Paddy Fest will also debut the Modern Shore Kids Zone this year, complete with inflatables, face painting, balloon artists, and other performers. Tickets for unlimited bounce and play are $10, available the ticket stands. Additionally, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Tampa Bay Rays will have a major presence yet again, including mascots on-site.

People at an outdoor festival

Beloved local food trucks like Slammer Shop, LaStrada Pizza, Charm City Eats, Galvin’s Goodies, WichPress, Pamz Pizza Conez, and Mini Mouthful Donuts are returning to feed the green clad masses, and full liquor bars with plenty of Guinness (poured proper by JJ Taylor) and Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey will be scattered throughout the park. There will also be an Irish food tent featuring corned beef and cabbage and other traditional St Patrick’s Day favorites, put on by expert event caterers Fresh Factory.

For those looking to really get into the celebration all weekend, be sure to check out our guide to the biggest St. Paddy’s events in DTSP this year. Of note, the official Paddy Fest after-party is at The Galley until 3 am both nights. And if you want a pre-fest brunch, Mary Margaret’s Irish Tavern is serving a full Irish Breakfast beginning at 9 am Saturday and Sunday.

Paddy Fest showcases the best of St. Pete

People at an outdoor festival

Last year’s inaugural event was a prime example of what a great event in Williams Park can look like, taking over the entire city block in downtown and showcasing the best of what the entire city and region have to offer. It was due to that success that organizers decided to make Paddy Fest a two-day event, as well as to make entry free and open to all ages. With more than 20,000 attendees expected over the sprawling two-day festival, Paddy Fest 2024 will be one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day festivals in the Tampa Bay Region’s history.

Live music and dance performances will take the stage all day every day, complete with a lawn for dancing, singing, picnicking, and relaxing. There will also be a two-story, double-decker party bar on site, as well as multiple full bars spread throughout the event. BreakThru Beverage Distributors will be on hand for tastings and cocktails featuring authentic Irish beers and whiskeys, including Tullamore DEW & Slane. Plus, the smash hit “Inflatable Pub” will be back this spring, featuring a gigantic, inflatable, and fully-operational pub with a full bar and seating.

Drink green beer for charity

A check being presented to Ocean Aid 360

This massive festival in the park is a joint effort between the City of St. Pete and the local team behind St. Patrick’s Day staples Mary Margaret’s Irish Pub and The Galley. It’s the same group that put on Tampa Bay’s biggest World Cup watch parties at Williams Park and Jannus Live at the end of 2022, which proved to be a fantastic experience.

Of course, while Paddy Fest is primarily a Celtic celebration, it’s also an opportunity to support an incredible local cause. Proceeds from the event will benefit Ocean Aid 360, a St. Pete-based non-profit focused on marine habitat restoration. More than $20K was raised for Ocean Aid 360 through last year’s Paddy fest and the World Cup watch parties, and organizers look forward to making yet another meaningful donation after the festival.

St. Paddy’s Festival celebrates all things local

One of the best facets of the festival, of course, is the emphasis on supporting local artists and businesses. Many of our favorite St. Pete food trucks will be on hand, and celebrated local chef Melanie Rattanachane from Fresh Factory will be leading the way in creating and serving authentic Irish dishes.

The deep roster of food trucks offers something for any palate, and there will also be local makers and artists showcasing their goods in the vendor market, including an all-Irish portion of the market.

People at an outdoor festival

There’s even a big local tie in the organization of the event itself. For the second year in a row, Paddy Fest is largely being organized by Pete Boland and Kat Van Dora, a pair of born-and-raised locals who have spent more than a decade together throwing parties full of green beer and Jameson shots. The duo runs Mary Margaret’s Irish Pub together, and they got their start in the industry when the two began working at Courigan’s Irish Pub back in 2009, making this their 15th-straight St. Patrick’s party to throw for St. Pete.

“It’s nice to come full circle here,” Boland said. St. Patrick’s is a special day for us, and we’re thrilled to do something on this level for the city we love on our favorite holiday.”

Paddy Fest St. Pete takes place from 12-9 pm on Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17.

Paddy Fest performance schedule:

Saturday, March 16th | Main Stage (Williams Park)

  • 12:00pm – 2:30pm // Sean Walsh
  • 2:30pm – 3:00pm // The Scariff Irish Step Dancers 
  • 3:00pm – 4:00pm // Chad McDonald
  • 4:00pm – 4:30pm // Suncoast United Pipe Band
  • 4:40pm – 5:45pm // Chad McDonald
  • 6:00pm – 9:00pm // Drunken Shrubbery

Saturday, March 16th | Inside Stage (Mary Margaret’s)

  • 1:00pm – 4:00pm // Cage O’Hanlon
  • 5:00pm – 8:00pm // Sean Walsh 
  • 9:00pm – 1:00am // Chad McDonald

Sunday, March 17th | Main Stage (Williams Park) 

  • 12:00pm – 2:45pm // Sean Patrick Walsh
  • 3:00pm – 5:45pm // Chad McDonald
  • 6:00pm – 6:30pm // The Scariff Irish Step Dancers 
  • 6:30pm – 6:55pm // Drunken Shrubbery
  • 7:00pm-7:15pm // Dunedin Pipe Band
  • 7:20pm-9:00pm // Drunken Shrubbery

Sunday, March 17th | Inside Stage (Mary Margaret’s)

  • 11:30am – 2:00pm // Chad McDonald
  • 3:00pm – 6:30pm // Sean Walsh 
  • 7:00pm – 11:00pm // Cage O’Hanlon


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