10 things to do on St. Patrick’s Day


(Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)

Monday is St. Patrick's Day, and even though it's technically a work day, many bars and pubs will open early to provide the Irish (and Irish at heart) with discounted drinks and traditional music. Here are 10 places to go and 10 things to try on the March 17, from well-poured Guinness to award-winning musicians to an Irish Purim party.

Saturday St. Patrick's Day events, including bar crawls and a mechanical bull | Whiskey, live music and the St. Patrick's Day Parade

President Barack Obama drinks a Guinness at The Dubliner on St. Patrick's Day 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama drinks a Guinness at the Dubliner on St. Patrick's Day 2012. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The Dubliner
Irish prime ministers, President Obama and Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry are among the special guests who’ve dropped into the Dubliner’s legendary St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The Capitol Hill pub is celebrating its 40th anniversary by doing what it does best: featuring live music and pouring pints. Six bars will be set up throughout the pub, dining room and tented patio. Doors open at 10 a.m. and music by John McGrath, Morris Minor and the duo of Jimmy Raferty and Paddy Halligan starts at 11 a.m. and goes all night. Beware that there’s a $10 cover, and the lines get very long around happy hour.

Irish Book Day
True Irish culture can sometimes get lost behind all the jigs and leprechauns, which is why local Irish arts group Solas Nua celebrates Irish Book Day every March 17. The group will be giving away copies of “What’s the Story,” a collection of contemporary Irish fiction and poems, to commuters during morning and evening rush hour. Targeted Metro stations will include Columbia Heights and Dupont Circle; follow @SolasNuacht on Twitter for updates on Monday.

Murphy’s of Alexandria
The Alexandria pub gets an early start: Doors open at 9 a.m. and then Pat Carroll, Ronan Kavanaugh, Rocky Guttman and the Havers take turns on stage all day. The dancers of the Boyle School of Irish Dance perform at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Unlike most other pubs, admission is free.

Traditional music at National Georgraphic
Runa, a traditional Irish group based in Philadelphia, picked up two big prizes at the 2013 Irish Music Awards: Top Group and Top Traditional Group. You can hear Runa’s folky mix of fiddles, guitar, bodhran and pipes at National Geographic.

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The Star and Shamrock's St. Paddy's Purim Simcha
The only bar in town that combines a Jewish deli with an Irish pub, the Star and Shamrock is throwing a three-day celebration of Purim (which is March 15 and 16) and St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). Doors open daily at 10 a.m. and the entertainment veers from Irish dancers (Saturday at 11 a.m.) to the Klezcentricity klezmer band (Sunday at 9 p.m.) to the Irish duo MollyHawks (Monday at 8 p.m.) There’s no cover charge for entertainment. Food and drink specials include shepherd’s pie spring rolls and corned beef and cabbage sliders, and because it’s Purim, costumes are encouraged.

Ireland’s Four Courts
The Four Courts gets very, very busy on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s not enough that they remove all chairs around 2 p.m., once the Irish lunch has finished: Revelers also fill a heated tent in the pub’s back parking lot. The day begins at 9 a.m. and includes Irish dancers, pipers and live music from Tommy Gann, Brad Pugh, Pete Baker and Sanford Markley beginning at 10:30. There’s a $5 cover after 3 p.m.

Kelly’s Irish Times
Far too many pubs hit you up for $5 or $10 at the door on St. Patrick’s Day, just for you to stand in long lines for a pint of Guinness in a plastic cup. The Irish Times is free to enter on St. Patrick’s Day, which makes it the perfect one-two with the neighboring Dubliner (see above). The best part: Kelly’s is a big hangout for police and fireman, so there are frequently bagpipers from the Emerald Society on the front patio.

Duffy’s Irish Pub
Doors open at 11 a.m. with $5 pints of Guinness until 1 p.m. The Vermont Avenue pub will continue its tradition of giving away commemorative T-shirts to early arrivals, though there’s a $5 cover all day. Featured drinks include green beer and green Jello shooters; entertainment comes from bagpipers and performers from the Culkin School of Irish Dance.

McFadden’s
No cover with a college ID all day? That’s par for the course at McFadden’s, which opens at 10 a.m. for a Kegs and Eggs brunch buffet. Drink specials offered until 1 p.m. include $2 beer and $3 mimosas and Irish coffee. The best part? There’s an “Irish” mechanical bull from noon to 9 p.m. (UPDATE: The McFadden's mechanical bull is only on Saturday, not Monday. Apologies for getting your hopes up.)

The Red Derby
There’s nothing Irish about the Red Derby. Nothing at all. So if you want to avoid the tomfoolery while sipping $2 Irish whiskey and $4 pub cans of Guinness, 14th Street NW is the place to go.

Fritz Hahn has written about bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. A product of Prince George's County public schools, Fritz majored in journalism at the University of Maryland and lives in the District.
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