(credit: sfstpatricksdayparade.com)

Even if it’s 6,000 miles to Ireland, everybody’s Irish for the day…at least once a year. Most of the Bay Area events to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day are annual traditions and plenty of them are family favorites. Parades and food festivals are always the highlight on a date that shifts to conform to the Saturday nearest to the 17th of March, to accommodate the crowds. This year focuses on the weekend of March 14-15, 2015.

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San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Market St. (at 2nd St.)
San Francisco, CA 94105
Date: March 14, 2015

The annual parade hosted by United Irish Societies of San Francisco begins at Second and Market Street at 11:30 a.m. It continues south to MacAllister Street, a good observation point as it turns before ending at Civic Center Plaza. Two hours is typically the duration, although crowds numbering approximately 100,000 gather early. A festival follows at the parade’s end.

(credit: ThinkStock)

San Francisco Irish Festival
Grove St. and Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Date: March 14, 2015

Civic Center Plaza has two festival areas dedicated to adults and to children. Enter through security for the outdoor party featuring food, beer and live music. Irish-themed and not, there are stalls for garlic fries, bangers and mash, pub chips and fries, corned beef sandwiches and typically American hamburgers and hot dogs. Guinness, Bushmills, Irish coffee and Bailey’s are being poured for the 21-plus crowd as Irish bands play onstage all throughout the afternoon. The kids area has candy apples, popcorn, refreshments, plus games, a spinning tea cup ride and inflatable slides.

United Irish Cultural Center
2700 45th Avenue (at Sloat Boulevard)
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 661-2700
Date: March 14-15, 2015

With fifes, drums and bagpipes, United Irish Cultural Center members march in the big downtown parade wearing traditional garb. Afterwards, come and get your corned beef and cabbage dinner starting at about 2 p.m. while live Irish music plays until late at the UICC. On Sunday, the Green Fest Shard Party for St. Patrick’s Day takes place on the street outside the UICC Clubhouse, a non-profit cultural center and home to the local Irish community for 41 years. Come check out the games, music, dancing, drinks, bounce house, SFFD fire truck and more from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Amador Plaza
Dublin, CA 94568
(925) 833-6645
Date: March 14, 2015

“Where else but Dublin?” is the tagline, and there’s lots more going on over the Irish capital’s namesake over the weekend, before and after the parade. At Shannon Community Center on Friday the 13th of March at 6 p.m., the Green and White Gala is sponsored by the Dublin Sister City Association. Bright and early the following morning at Fire Station #16, Alameda County Firefighters Local 55 throws its Annual Pancake Breakfast from 7 a.m. Then it’s all eyes on Amador Plaza Road, where the St. Patrick’s Day Parade sponsored by Dublin Lion’s Club kicks off at 9:30 a.m. Bring a lawn chair, perch on the curb or head for the grandstand seating at 7400 Amador Valley Blvd. On Sunday morning, shake off the pancake calories when the Shamrock 5K Fun Walk & Run begins at Civic Plaza at 8:30 a.m.

(credit: William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

32nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration
Dublin Civic Center
100 Civic Plaza
Dublin, CA 94568
(925) 833-6645
Dates: March 14-15, 2015

The biggest event on Dublin’s calendar is St. Patrick’s Day when wearing green is encouraged. The carnival lasts all weekend; parking and admission are free. Jive and jig at one stage dedicated to Irish dancing and get into the mood at two stages for live Irish music including bagpipes and Celtic folk songs. Browse among 250 arts and crafts vendors displaying their Gaelic wares in an Irish-themed marketplace, catch the carnival rides and enjoy Irish food and drink such as corned beef sliders and Guinness-marinated Tri-Tip on Irish Soda Bread. An Irish tea cottage is set up for proper shortbread, scones and Irish tea served from fine china teacups.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.