Quick, when you think of St. Patrick's Day in Indianapolis, what comes to mind? Green beer! Green beads! Green ... canal? Yes, of course. March 17th wouldn't be the same without these colorful traditions. The Indianapolis community goes all out for this Celtic holiday -- and, for this year, the days (and nights) leading up to it. Count on a slew of downtown gatherings, organized pub crawls, and, yes, the annual tinting of the canal a festive emerald green.
There are so many things to see and do, which explains why the holiday has become such a time-honored celebration in the Circle City. "It's starting to get warm, and it's the first big holiday that people can get out and enjoy themselves," says Melissa Thompson of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. "There are usually lots of fun parties around Indy."
Not that you'll need any help finding ways to get your green on this weekend, but we thought we'd share some fun St. Paddy's Day events with you. Below is our list of what to do day-by-day this weekend. From traditional Celtic foods to live Irish entertainment, there's a bit of something here for everyone. With a little luck of the Irish (and our handy guide) you're sure to have a blast.
For the entire family:
- The annual dyeing of the canal is the unofficial start of St. Patrick's Day festivities.
Hoosier Lottery 18th Annual Greening of the Canal
Where: Stardust Terrace at the Indiana Historical Society on the canal
When: 5 p.m. on Friday, March 14
What: Kick-start your St. Patrick's Day weekend by heading downtown for the iconic dyeing of the canal. Watch in amazement as the canal runs green, and while you're at it, enjoy free shamrock hats and necklaces, and enter drawings to win various prizes. Traditional Irish singer-songwriter Eunan McIntyre performs at 5 p.m., so put on your (Irish) dancing shoes and come join the festivities.
For the 21-and-older crowd:
St. Paddy's Day Party at Claddagh Irish Pub
Where: 234 S. Meridian St.
When: 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. (or later!) on Friday, March 14
What: Claddagh Irish Pub is celebrating the holiday all weekend long, but it's kicking off on Friday with live music throughout the night. Check out Steve Smith from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Benito & Friends from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. For the rest of the pub's special weekend schedule, visit its website.
For the entire family:
Shamrockin' the Circle
Where: Monument Circle
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 15
What: Shake up Monument Circle on Saturday. Come watch the Shamrock Run and Walk race while enjoying food from the Columbia Club, a beer garden and live entertainment. Bands Eunan McIntyre and Reilly will set the stage for an unforgettable downtown celebration.
Indianapolis City Market
Where: 222 E. Market St.
When: 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 15
What: Let the Indianapolis Ceili Band and violinist Samantha Stelting add an Irish soundtrack to your Saturday morning at the City Market. Return on Monday for St. Paddy's Day deals and festive green beads.
- All proceeds from the St. Patrick's Day Run and Walk go to supporting amateur sports in central Indiana.
For fitness fanatics:
The 24th Annual Shamrock Run and Walk
Where: The race starts and ends at Monument Circle
When: 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 15
What: The official race of the St. Patrick's Day Parade, this fun run/walk is open to all ages and abilities. Join the festivities and participate in the timed 4-mile run/walk. If running's not your speed, there's a 4-mile walk as well. Take in historic downtown Indy at your own pace and Fountain Square, home to Irish Hill, as you gather with thousands of other participants. Register online for $25 before March 12, or register the day of the race for $30. Make sure you wear your most impressive green costume -- prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed!
Shamrock 5K Beer Run
Where: The race starts and ends on Georgia Street
When: 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 15
What: Though this race is now sold out for the beer-drinkers, you can still get in on the fun. Head here to register as a volunteer or to register as a runner only (You won't get any beer, but you will receive a shirt, medal and empty pint glass.). And, as the name suggests, you must be 21 to participate in the race.
For the 21-and-older crowd:
- Both the Flying Toasters and My Yellow Rickshaw will be at this year's Blarney Bash.
The Blarney Bash
Where: The Boardwalk at the east block between Meridian and Pennsylvania streets
When: Noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 15
What: Make way for the Blarney Bash on Georgia Street for great music and, "of course, lots of green beer," says Melissa Thompson of Indianapolis Downtown, Inc. Both local bands, My Yellow Rickshaw performs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and The Flying Toasters performs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission to the Blarney Bash is free, but you must be 21 to attend. However, "you will be able to hear the bands from the surrounding sidewalks if you come down with your family," says Thompson.
St. Paddy's Pub Crawl
When: Noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 15
What: Last year's St. Paddy's Pub Crawl attracted more than 1,600 pub-loving participants, and this year promises to be just as popular. Spend the afternoon at Indy hotspots ranging from Tiki Bob's to Taps and Dolls and Hard Rock Cafe. We'll drink to that! Tickets (available here) are $9 and include admission to the crawl, three drink tickets and drink specials. You must be 21 with a valid ID.
For the entire family:
- The St. Patrick's Day Parade and Vermont Street Tent Party are free and open to the public.
The 34th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade
Where: One of Indy's most celebrate and well-attended annual parades, it starts at North Street, moves south to Ohio, north onto Meridian, and then will end at Vermont Street.
When: 11:30 a.m. on Monday, March 17
What: One of the most popular St. Patrick's Day events for all ages, the parade features many talented high school bands, floats, Irish dancers and musicians, local celebrities, and much more. The event is free and entertaining for all ages, so gear up in green and bring your little leprechauns to the parade as well. Be sure your youngsters tote along a bag or large leprechaun hat they can invert and hold in front of them (trick-or-treat style) to collect the piles of candy that are handed and/or tossed out by parade participants passing by.
Vermont Street Tent Party
Where: Vermont Street between Meridian and Pennsylvania streets
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, March 17
What: Sponsored by the parade organizers, the Vermont Street Tent Party offers events before, during and after the procession. Stop by at 10 a.m. for free coffee and donuts from Village Pantry. After the parade, stop by the tent party on Vermont Street for food and drinks, including a beer garden. You can also shop for St. Paddy's Day products and listen to Irish bands Highland Reign and Eunan McIntyre. This event is free and open to the public.
St. Patrick's Day Tri-Fecta
Where: The Rathskeller
When: 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Friday, March 14 and 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, March 15; the Indianapolis Downtown Irish Fest runs from noon to midnight on Monday, March 17
What: There's nothing better than authentic Irish food and live Irish tunes -- and you'll find both at the Rathskeller all weekend long. This iconic event "started as a party that has become an Indianapolis institution," says the Rathskeller's Dan McMichael. On Friday night, come jam out to Mother Grove and Natalie Stovall and The Drive. Mother Grove will perform again on Saturday night.
And on Monday, the historic downtown restaurant will also host the 17th annual Indianapolis Downtown Irish Fest. Brian Cunningham and the Irish Aires perform at noon, and the Irish Dancers of Indianapolis take the stage at 4:15 p.m. Watch the Gordon Pipers at 5 p.m. (Be sure to watch WFYI's video of the Gordon Pipers on Sky Blue Window tomorrow.) and the Woomblies at 6 p.m., and then round out your day with Zanna-Doo! at 9 pm. Kids are welcome, so you can bring the entire family.