Irish Festival Seattle Kicks off with 50th Anniversary of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

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206.293.4110 // meghan.mclaughlin-c@seattle.gov

Festival Celebrates Milestone on March 12 and 13 with Music, Dance, Crafts and Art

SEATTLESeattle Center Festál continues with Irish Festival Seattle, presented as an in-person celebration by the Irish Heritage Club, on March 12th and 13th following last year’s virtual event. The free public festival takes place at the Seattle Center Armory and will include vendors with craft goods, an art exhibition, children’s activities and traditional Irish food and dance.

“Through the Irish Festival, the parade and other Irish Week events, the Irish Heritage Club tries to provide a taste of what it means to be Irish,” said Irish Heritage Club board member John Keane. “We hope the festival encourages people to learn more about Ireland, a country that in many ways is similar to the Pacific Northwest. It’s no wonder Aer Lingus flies direct from Seattle to Dublin!”

This year’s festival comes 50 years after the first city-permitted St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Seattle on March 11, 1972. Deputy Mayor of Galway Martina O’Connor and Enda Kenny, former Irish Prime Minister are traveling to Seattle to attend the festival as special guests. 

The Irish Festival welcomes CAVORT, a Celtic band with spirited songs and instrumentals, to the stage for the first time this year. Carrigaline, a Celtic band that performs with a traditional bagpipe-like instrument, the uilleann pipes, will perform as well. The Pride of Bothell Céili Band rounds out the music lineup with Seattle fiddler Susan Burke to perform lively jigs, reels, slides, and hornpipes. Tara Academy of Irish Dance, a local dance company, will also be performing during the festival.

Booths and vendors include Celtic Crossroads Northwest, Wandering Angus, Into Totes, Apple Cox Designs, Seattle Genealogical Society, Elfstone Celtic Jewelry, Dwiggins Illuminations, Celtic Jewelry with an Ancient Story, Make It Feision, Over the Line Art Seattle, Gently Used Irish Book Sales, Shawn O’Donnell’s, and Seattle Gaels with Tacoma Rangers GAA.

“The Irish Festival gives us all a chance to celebrate Seattle’s Irish community,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “One Seattle means embracing the cultural traditions and customs of the communities who call our city home, and the longstanding Irish Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and St. Patrick’s Day Dash are great opportunities to do so.”

Seattle’s Irish community connections run deep and strong with some of the 800,000 Washingtonians who claim Irish as their primary heritage. At Irish Festival Seattle, the heritage club brings together performers and artists to show what it means to be Irish.

“Festál presents a wonderful opportunity to celebrate every community that makes Seattle special,” said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams. “I’m pleased to say Seattle Center, at the heart of the city, has become a hub for cultures to come together and share their traditions with each other.”

The festival also features genealogy and history seminars. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Irish state, an event that will be covered by Caron McMahon whose family was heavily impacted by the fight for Irish independence.

The Monorail will provide free rides to the Armory from Westlake Station following the St. Patrick’s Day Parade between 2 and 3 p.m. on Sunday to facilitate those who want to attend the Irish Festival after the parade.

Water, buildings, sky, clouds are in the background. In the foreground a man is standing, holding a staff, looking outward. He is wearing a robe that is blowing in the wind and has a tall decorative hat.
Photo credit Doug Clark

About Irish Festival History

The first city-permitted St. Patrick’s Day Parade was on March 11, 1972. That celebration was especially important as it followed the events of Bloody Sunday, where thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, had been shot by British Army paratroopers and killed, while 17 were wounded. That devastating day sparked protests across the country and brought worldwide attention to the crisis in Northern Ireland. The 1972 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Seattle allowed the local Irish community to bring regional attention to the issues in Northern Ireland and educate Seattleites on the importance of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement that was not signed until 1998.

About the Irish Heritage Club

In the 1980s, Seattle was home to three Irish community organizations: the Irish American Club, the Irish Festivities, and the Seattle Gaels. Although each had their own focus, club leaders realized how much overlap there was in membership in 1983 and joined forces to form the Irish Heritage Club. The Irish Heritage Club is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious organization that organizes and promotes activities of an Irish cultural nature in the Greater Seattle area. Information on the Irish Heritage Club is available at www.irishclub.org and www.seattlecenter.com, as well as on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

About Seattle Center Festál

Seattle Center Festál cultivates a deeper understanding of the cultures and ethnic diversity that contribute to the rich vibrancy of the Pacific Northwest. This unique series links together 24 free festivals presented on weekends from February to November, each with its own cultural focus, identity, and range of engaging activities. 2022 commemorates the 25th Anniversary of Festál, ushering in a new era of hybrid programs during this anticipated return to in-person events. Seattle Center Festál is where the world will gather to celebrate the people, the places, the stories, the traditions, and the next 25 years of innovation. Seattle Center Festál is produced in partnership with 24 different community groups and supported by 4Culture, City of Seattle, and Seattle Center Foundation. Festál is also part of the ArtsFund Cultural Partners Network.

About Seattle Center

Connect to the extraordinary at Seattle Center, an active civic, arts, and family gathering place in the core of our region. More than 30 cultural, educational, sports and entertainment organizations which reside on the grounds, together with a broad range of public and community programs, create thousands of events on the 74-acre campus and attract more than 12 million visitors each year. At Seattle Center, part of Uptown Arts & Cultural District and home to Climate Pledge Arena, our purpose is to create exceptional events, experiences, and environments that delight and inspire the human spirit to build stronger communities. Activities at the Center generate $1.864 billion in business activity and $631 million in labor income. 

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