St. Patrick's Day Survival Guide
When St. Patrick's Day falls early in the week, as it does in 2009, the holiday should really be renamed St. Patrick's Days. Since not everyone can duck out of the office early to hit the pubs, or stay out late celebrating with a few pints of Guinness, clever bar owners and promoters tend to stagger events over a few days, giving everyone a chance to party -- and sometimes several chances.
When you're heading out on Tuesday, all the usual caveats apply: Lines will be long, so arrive early. Don't count on dining, because many pubs cut their menus down to the basics (cold sandwiches) and offer limited items, which do sell out. Bring cash, because some bars don't take credit cards in order to keep the bartenders moving faster.
Here's a day-by-day guide to your St. Patrick's Days festivities, starting with this weekend.
Friday, March 13
DC101's Kegs and Eggs party celebrates its 10th anniversary with a free early-morning concert at 9:30 Club with Filter, Hoobastank and Carbon Leaf. It's kind of an odd lineup -- Filter's biggest hits were in the late-'90s, and Hoobastank hasn't had a hit since "The Reason" in 2004. About the only thing they have in common is the Hoobastank has a new CD out, while Filter's "Greatest Hits" drops at the end of the month. Opening is local rocker outfit Carbon Leaf, which seems to play every year. Doors open at 7:15, and the live music runs from 8 to noon.
Saturday, March 14
When we highlighted this festival in this week's Nightlife Agenda, I wrote: With 40 bands, pub games, a rock climbing wall, sideshow acts, restaurant tents and all the green beer you can handle, Shamrock Fest easily takes the title of the biggest St. Patrick's Day party of the year. And with headlining acts like celtic punk veterans Flogging Molly, local Irish rockers Scythian and half the bands on this summer's Dewey Beach calendar (Mr. Greengenes, Burnt Sienna, Junkfood, etc.), it shouldn't fail to entertain. (Top of our must-see list: Girls, Girls, Girls, "the world's first and only all-girl Mötley Crüe tribute band.") However, we have to warn you that if your idea of fun is NOT excessive drinking in a parking lot, or you don't want to be around hundreds of people who think that excessive drinking in a parking lot is the PERFECT way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, you might want to steer clear of RFK Stadium today.
With the big event three days away, it's "St. Practice Day" at McFadden's, which includes all-Irish pursuits like beer pong and flip cup tournaments from 7 p.m. on. Besides specials on mini-Guinnesses, mini-Jamesons and mini-Michael Collins cocktails, there's a dance contest at 9, a "team uniform" contest for best St. Patrick's day outfits at 10 and a create-your-own-pitcher at 11.
Union Jack's in Bethesda is combining St. Patrick's Day with Halloween, offering cash and prizes for the "best" and "sexiest" Irish costumes at a midnight contest. (Time to bust out the "Sexy Leprechaun" and "Sexy Darby O'Gill" outfits!) Drink specials include $4 Guinness, $5 Guinness-and-a-shot bombs and, from 5 to 9 p.m., $2 Killian's Irish Red.
The "St. Patrick's Day Pre-Party" at Duffy's is one for the budget-minded, with half-price Guinness and Smithwick's pints from 5 p.m. to close, and $5 shots of Clontarf, my new favorite Irish whiskey. Irish music will be on the stereo all night.
Sunday, March 15
The D.C. St. Patrick's Day Parade begins at noon on Constitution Avenue, and if the stepdancers, bands and Irish groups get you in the mood for a party, walk up to Penn Quarter afterwards. Fado has a live performance by the Wild Rovers at 2:30, while singer-guitarist Andy O' Driscoll takes the stage at the Irish Channel a few blocks away.
One of Alexandria's pre-St. Patrick's Day traditions is the Irish brunch at Murphy's with harpist Carolina Gregg. Brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pat Carroll and Rocky Guttman perform in the evening.
Monday, March 16
Want to show off your knowledge of all-things Irish? D.C.'s Fado and the Bethesda branch of Ri-Ra are hosting special St. Patrick's Day-themed pub quizzes with prizes like T-shirts and gift certificates. Both start at 8 p.m.
Tuesday, March 17
Before we get to the pubs: the annual Shamrocks and Shenanigans celebrates a decade of St. Patrick's Day shenanigans this year. Held again at Rumors from 3 to 11, Shamrocks and Shennanigans features deeply discounted drinks, green beads and dancing to top 40 and '80s hits, and some Irish touches, a like a bagpiper, will find their way into the mix, too. The afternoon starts with beat-the-clock Coors Light deals: $1.17 bottles from 3 to 4, $2.17 Miller Lites from 4 to 6, then $3.17 Miller Lites for the rest of the night. Contests include "Best Irish Costume" and "Best Irish Jig." The crowd is on the young side and gets sloppier as the night goes on. The cover charge starts at $5 and will increase.
Tuesday, March 17: D.C. Events
Vintage Guinness ads cover the walls at the 51st
State in Foggy Bottom, lending the appropriate atmosphere for the day. Doors open at 11, and a full lunch (with $3 Yuengling) is served until 2:30. All-day drink specials include $2 Shamrock Shooters and $6 Guinness.
One of Washington's oldest St. Patrick's Day parties is at the Dubliner, the Capitol Hill pub where owner Danny Coleman has been celebrating for 33 years. (Coleman is being honored with the "Gael of the Year" award at this year's St. Patrick's Day parade.) Doors open at 10 a.m., and there are usually lines by mid-afternoon. Inside, there are three smaller satellite bars set up to help ease the crush, and one will be added to the tented outdoor area this year. John McGrath, Morris Minor and the duo of Jimmy Rafferty and Patty Halligan rotate between two stages from 10 a.m. to last call, and the green-clad crowd whoops and hollers all day and all night. There's a $10 cover.
Duffy's opens at noon, and it pays to arrive early: The first 100 customers through the door receive a free T-shirt, and everyone who arrives by 3 gets half-price Guinness and Smithwick's. (There are $2 green Jello shooters for everyone who arrives late.) Since it's right around the corner from the 9:30 club, this is the perfect place to keep partying after Kegs and Eggs. The jukebox plays Irish music, Irish dancers will stop by to show off their steps, and cold sandwiches will be available at the bar. The kitchen crew gets the day off.
Like many other pubs, the Fado in Chinatown is charging a $10 cover. Unlike many other pubs, it's less of a cover than a minimum charge: As you walk in, you're handed a $10 gift card to use at the bar. Doors open at 8 a.m., and managers say there will be dancers and pipers performing throughout the day. Singer Willem Dickey performs from 11 to 3:30, and a DJ spins tunes after 9:30. If you arrive late, be prepared to wait. And wait.
At Ireland's Four Fields, live music plays from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., interrupted only by step dancing performances. All tables will be removed from the pub to make room for the large crowds, and only pre-made cold sandwiches will be served at the bar. There's a $10 cover charge all day.
Irish singer Brian Gaffney -- the former owner of Nanny O'Brien's -- performs from noon until close at the Irish Channel in Chinatown. A condensed menu of "classic Irish dishes" will be offered from lunch on. There's no cover charge.
If you're looking for a party in Dupont Circle, James Hoban's is the place: Doors open at 8 for the kegs and eggs party, and the tented patio area has its own bar. A short Irish menu will be served at lunch and dinner, and a DJ takes over at 7:30. There's no cover charge.
Kelly's Irish Times is easing off the cover charge this year: it's opening at 10 a.m. but not charging a $10 entry fee until 4 p.m. Singer Pete Papageorge picks up his guitar at noon, and a full lunch menu will be served until 2.
"It's just a regular day," reports a manager at Mackey's Public House. Doors open at 11, and there's no live music or crazy entertainment at the D.C. pub. There's no cover, either.
Some people are content to sit in a pub and listen to "The Wild Rover" on St. Patrick's Day. These are not the ones heading for McFadden's at 8 a.m. for a free breakfast buffet and 25-cent draft beers or sticking around for the 9 p.m. "Teeny Weenie Green Bikini " contest. It's a sea of college students, kickball teams and the merely curious, who sneak out of work for $5 Guinness drafts (noon to 7) and pour-your-own pint contests, shot specials, drinking games and a DJ. There will be a cover charge later in the night.
Tourists and locals share space at Murphy's of D.C. on St. Patrick's Day. It's business as usual early in Woodley Park: Doors open at 9 a.m., and there's a regular lunch menu with Irish specials. Then, at 3 p.m., everything changes: Ronan Kavanaugh and other musicians take the stage, and all seats are cleared out to make room for more customers. Drink specials will be offered, though they hadn't been decided at press time, and a limited food menu will be available for dinner. The party goes until 1 a.m.
Singer-guitarist Connor Malone, a fixture in local Irish pubs, performs from 1 to 6 at Nanny O'Brien's. Doors open at 10 a.m., and the $10 cover is enforced once Malone takes the stage. A limited menu of burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs is served all day.
Tuesday, March 17: Maryland Events
In downtown Annapolis, Castlebay Irish Pub has live music from Steve Ports and Ray Weaver from 7 a.m. to midnight. Breakfast will be served early, and there's a limited menu for the rest of the day. Draft beers are $6 all day, while rail drinks are $5. Expect to pay a $5 cover in the morning and $10 once the pub gets busy, usually after 3.
Want to get a taste of the day on your way to work? Doors at Annapolis's Fado Irish Pub open at 7 p.m. for the $3.17 breakfast specials, and WRNR sponsors an 8 a.m. concert by local favorites Jimmie's Chicken Shack. There's also a contest where you could win a trip to Ireland. After lunch, there are Irish dancers and bagpipers (2 p.m.) and a performance by Irish group Fools and Horses (4 p.m.). A DJ takes over in the evening. Expect to pay a $10 cover, beginning sometime in the late afternoon.
In Dublin on St. Patrick's Day, many eyes are on the All-Ireland Hurling and Football Championships. (De La Salle and Portumna clash in the hurling championship, while Crossmaglen Rangers and Kilmacud Crokes meet in the football final.) At Flanagan's Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda, doors open at 10 to show those matches live. After the sports, there's live music from noon to close from Kevin James, Connor Malone and Sean Chyun. A $10 cover will be levied after 5 p.m. Diners should note that a limited menu will be available, and reservations are strongly recommended.
Crofton's Irish Channel starts at 8 a.m. with $4 mimosas and a $6 breakfast buffet during the kegs and eggs party. Lunch is served from 11 to 2. In the afternoon, food options are limited, though there's a $8 buffet of appetizers and snacks. There will be Jameson giveaways and drink specials, and Andy O'Driscoll will be performing between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. There's a $6 cover after 2 p.m.
McGinty's Public House seems determined to show as many facets of Irishness as it can in one day: Beef and Guinness stew and other favorites at lunch, Irish step dancers performing from 4:30 to 6, traditional jigs and reels performed by the teenage fiddlers and pipers of Pete Moss and the Bog Band from 6 to 8:30, then the fiddle-fueled Celtic rock of 40 Thieves from 9 to close. There's plenty of room to dance upstairs, and a cozy bar with darts downstairs A $10 cover will be charged after 6.
Looking for a pub with live music and no cover in Maryland? Head for Bethesda, where Ri-Ra features the Mike Leverone Duo from 2 to 5, the Roger Henderson Duo from 6 to 9 and cover band Cheap Date from 10 to close.
Tuesday, March 17: Virginia Events
Musicians play for 14 hours straight at Ireland's Four Courts on St. Patrick's Day, both on stage in the pub and in a tent in the parking lot set up to accommodate overflow crowds. An Irish lunch is served from 10 to 2, and music begins at 11. After lunch, all chairs are removed from the pub and it becomes standing room only.
It's hard to figure which is the bigger draw at Ireland's Four Provinces on St. Patrick's Day: The live music, with Don Cobert and the band Dirty Pints taking turns all day, or the set meals in the dining room. A three-course Irish meal ($26.95) will be served at 11, 1 and 3. Dinner, served at 5, 7 and 9, costs $10 more. Reservations are recommended, as the timeslots often fill up in advance. The bar opens at 8 a.m. for a kegs and eggs party, with a $10 cover.
Looking for celebrate without too much fuss? Mackey's in Crystal City will be open for business as usual.
Lines are always long for Murphy's of Alexandria on St. Patrick's Day, but with no cover charge at the venerable Old Town pub and live Irish music from longtime Murphy's favorites Rocky Guttman and Pat Garvey all day, it's not hard to see why. Doors open at 9 a.m.
Doors at Ned Devine's and Ned Kelly's open at 11 a.m. with a promise of "Green beer and Irish food." Local singers Phil Kominski and Nate Ihara play from 11 to 7, and a troupe of Irish step dancers performs at 6:30. Alternative rock cover act Scott's New Band takes over from 10 to close. There's a $10 cover after 7 p.m.
The vast Ned Devine's Irish Village, with a main room resembling a movie set of an idealized Irish town square, opens at 5. The precocious youngsters of the School of Rock Band take the stage at 6, followed by rockers Rude Buddha. You'll pay $10 cover whenever you show up.
O'Faolain's opens at 8 a.m. for kegs and eggs -- full Irish breakfast with $4 pints -- but it's not the Animal House-style madness you might expect. "As we also offer free wireless, we get lots of folks who work in the Dulles corridor that will use O'Faolain's as their office for the
day," reports general manager Justin Holohan. "By 9 a.m., they have had breakfast, are drinking pints and working away on their BlackBerries, laptops and PDAs . . . Mind you, by noontime the BlackBerries disappear." The rest of the day is rounded out with live music between noon and 3 and then again from 5 p.m. to close, with an Irish dancing performance at 3:30. There's $10 cover charge from 2 p.m. on unless you have dinner reservations.
As one of the few Arlington pubs offering live music without a cover on Tuesday, O'Sullivan's should prove a popular destination. Doors open at 11, and the music begins at 4. First up is the Michael Patrick Band, followed by the Journeymen at 7 and the Flying Cows of Ventry at 10. A very limited menu will be available, but there will be happy hour specials.
Congratulations are in order for the Old Brogue, which is celebrating its 28th anniversary on St. Patrick's Day. As always, the homey Great Falls pub is splitting itself into three venues on the 17th. The cozy "snuggery" room opens at 8 for a traditional Irish breakfast, accompanied by hammered dulcimer player Jody Marshall. The set-price menu costs $25, though that doesn't include drinks. A large outdoor tent opens at 9 a.m., with its own bar and a limited food selection. (Note: no seats are available in the tent.) The main pub opens an hour later, though the entertainment, featuring singer Ted Garber, doesn't start until 1. Lunch and dinner, which require reservations, are served in the snuggery and feature Irish tunes by Irish singer Sarah Croker. There's a $10 cover if you're not having a meal.
Every St. Patrick's Day, Ireland's Own performs an unusual swap. Managers pull all of the tables out of the dining room and bar to make space for standing-room-only crowds and move diners to a heated tent on the brick patio. Inside, you'll no doubt get to see owner Pat Troy perform his legendary version of "The Unicorn Song" and have the chance to clap along to "The Wild Rover" multiple times. On the patio, breakfast is served at 9, lunch at 11, 1 and 3, and dinner at 5, 7 and 9. There's a $10 cover to enter the main building.
Local cover band Dr. Fu is again the main attraction at Ri-Ra's party, following on a lively (and packed) performance last year at the Clarendon bar. The band takes the stage at 9:30. Doors open at 10 a.m., and there's live Irish music in the afternoon and a $10 cover after 5.
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