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From Balboa Park to the Gaslamp Quarter, Mark Saint Patrick’s Day in San Diego With Holiday Headquarters at the Sofia

Are you ready to paint the town green for Saint Patrick’s Day?

San Diego really knows how to celebrate this holiday of Irish and Irish-American heritage, when just about everybody can claim a little spiritual or cultural (if not ancestral) connection to the Emerald Isle. And with a boutique guestroom at the Sofia Hotel on West Broadway, you’re within jigging distance of the two biggest Saint Paddy’s Day soirees in town: the San Diego Saint Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival in Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter’s San Diego shamROCK block party!

Saint Patrick’s Day: A (Very) Condensed History

Saint Patrick’s Day has traditionally been a feast day honoring the namesake patron saint of Ireland, who wasn’t actually born there but rather in Roman Great Britain, aka Britannia, as Maewyn Succat.

He was initially brought to Ireland in slave bondage, then escaped and ended up training as a missionary in France. Saint Patrick then returned to Ireland, the story goes, to spread Christianity: allegedly symbolizing the Holy Trinity with a three-leaf clover (the shamrock) and, apocryphally anyway, ridding the (naturally snake-free) island of snakes.

It’s said that Saint Patrick exited this mortal coil on March 17th, 461, which explains the timing of Saint Patrick’s Day each year. While the feast day as a religious commemoration has been observed in Ireland for better than a thousand years, the modern Saint Patrick’s Day tradition with its more general celebration of Irish culture and heritage owes much to Irish-Americans.

Irish immigrants in the American colonies and early United States used the occasion to evoke and fete the spirit of their homeland. New York City’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade dates to the mid-1700s: It’s the oldest and largest of its kind in the world. (Ireland’s first official Saint Paddy’s Day parade, by contrast, didn’t come till 1931, and until the 1970s Irish taverns were—kind of amazingly, considering the hearty consumption of adult beverages that marks the holiday stateside—closed on March 17th.)

You can learn more about Saint Patrick here, and the origins of the holiday itself here.

Saint Patrick’s Day in San Diego

Saturday, March 16th sees the annual San Diego Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, which happens to be the biggest west of the Mississippi River. It steps off at 10:30 AM from Fifth Avenue and Laurel Street, and musters better than 120 entries, including decorated floats, marching bands, equestrian units, dance troupes, vintage cars, local dignitaries, and clowns.

It’s associated with the all-day Irish Festival in Balboa Park, which begins at 9 AM and runs until 6 PM. You’ll have three stages of live entertainment, including Celtic folk groups and Irish dancers, plus a beer garden, craft booths, and a Celtic Food Village to enjoy.

Then there’s San Diego shamROCK, which from 2 PM till midnight on Saturday sees six blocks of the Gaslamp Quarter—just south of the Sofia Hotel—turn a festive green: literally, courtesy of 50,000-plus square feet of Astroturf. More than 20,000 from near and far attend this epic Saint Paddy’s Day street party, which will see goodly amounts of green-hued beer and whiskey flowing as well as multiple stages of live music and DJs and, in a new addition this year, a bunch of holiday-themed games over at shamROCK Shenanigans Street.

Marking its 24th year in 2019, San Diego shamROCK is presented by (and fundraises for) the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation.

Join Us at the Sofia Hotel for San Diego’s World-class Saint Patrick’s Day Festivities

From the parade and festival over at Balboa Park to the shamROCK blowout right at our doorstep, the Sofia Hotel makes the perfect Saint Patrick’s Day headquarters in San Diego!