10 St. Patrick’s Day Events in Boston

From pub crawls to road races, we’ve got more Irish cheer than you can swing a shillelagh at.
Scene from Boogaloo & Graham. Courtesy of Irish Film Festival, Boston.

Scene from Boogaloo & Graham Courtesy of Irish Film Festival, Boston.

If you know nothing else about St. Patrick’s Day in Boston—a.k.a. Irish Mardi Gras—then you know that it’s a time when the hordes converge on Southie for the second-largest parade in the country, shirtless flag-wavers, grumpy costumed pets, and a massive drunken scrum replete with bagpipers. As truly attention-grabbing a spectacle as the South Boston parade is, though, let’s not overlook the fact that this holiday also brings with it a deluge of other festivities. Here, we explore St. Paddy’s Day celebrations that go beyond the South Boston parade route.

Joshua Tree at Hard Rock Café

If you’re not watching the parade, you might as well be the paradeand if this is your credo, hop aboard the Luck of the Irish St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. One of the stops on this grueling booze gauntlet—taking place on March 13, 14, and 17—is the Hard Rock Café, where you can catch live music in their outdoor beer garden. And if you happen to be there on March 17, you’ll be rewarded with live music from The Joshua Tree, Boston’s venerable U2 cover band. “There’s no better place to be a U2 tribute band than in Boston,” says bassist Joe Wilson, and especially on St. Patrick’s Day. True fans might consider skipping the crawl and keeping their wits about them, as this concert promises something special: With U2’s upcoming North American tour still months away, The Joshua Tree will give Boston a live performance of Songs of Innocence material before Bono does. See it here first, folks.

$10, March 17, 7 p.m., Hard Rock Café, 22-24 Clinton St., 617-424-7625, hardrock.com.

St. Patrick’s Week at Lansdowne Pub

Not every town has its own entrance song, and it’s hard to find something as instantly identifiable as “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” Naturally, few shows sell out harder than the Dropkick Murphys’ annual St. Patrick’s Day concerts at the House of Blues. But even if you didn’t get tix to see this year’s DKM shows, there are still plenty of shenanigans happening on Lansdowne Street. At the Lansdowne Pub, for example, five straight nights of blarneyfied entertainment awaits.

Friday through Tuesday, March 13-17, Lansdowne Pub, 9 Lansdowne St., 617-247-1222, lansdownepubboston.com.

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner Show at the Burren

The Burren brings the trad Irish music experience seven nights a week, and as you might expect, St. Patrick’s Day is not a holiday they take lightly. They come correct with an entire variety show helmed by Burren owners Tommy McCarthy and Louise Costello, whose credentials include performances alongside such notables as the Chieftains and Michael Flatley.

$23, March 17, various times, The Burren, 247 Elm St., 617-776-6896, burren.com.

5th Annual Evacuation Day Party at Stoddard’s

Those allergic to green beer can find refuge at Stoddard’s this year, where craft brews will flow all day long. But just because you’re not swilling these suds through a shamrock-emblazoned foam dome doesn’t mean you can’t get into the Irish spirit: thematically appropriate offerings include Harpoon Brewery’s Boston Irish Stout, Wormtown Brewery’s O’Connor’s Irish Red Ale, and O’Hara’s Irish Craft Beers, along with plenty more.

March 17, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. next day, Stoddard’s Fine Food & Ale, 48 Temple Place, 617- 426-0048, stoddardsfoodandale.com.

Running of the Leprechauns 5K

If you missed the registration for the now-full Southie St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, don’t worry, you still have options. Anyone who likes to run in a green tutu and finds bagpipe music to be performance-enhancing should check out Saturday’s Running of the Leprechauns 5K in Medford. Conversely, anyone who has recurring nightmares about being chased by the Boston Celtics’ mascot, Lucky, should stay far away from this one. Spectators, definitely bring your Southie St. Paddy’s Day Bingo card with youlooks like it’ll work here, too.

$37, March 14, 8 a.m. registration, 10:30 a.m. race, 11:30 a.m. afterparty, Medford Lodge of Elks, 19 Washington St., racemenu.com.

Craicfest Race

Fitness buffs, another race to consider is Sunday’s Craicfest race, organized by the Cambridge 5K. Run in costume, and you could win a prize. Carb thyself afterward with a party at the CambridgeSide Galleria, featuring libations by Slumbrew, Notch, Downeast Cider House, and Night Shift Brewing.

$50, March 15, 7:30 a.m. bib pickup, 9:30 a.m. race, CambridgeSide Galleria, 100 CambridgeSide Place, cambridge5k.com.

A St. Patrick’s Day Celtic Sojourn at Sanders Theater

In addition to hosting the Burren’s Backroom Series, Brian O’Donovan’s been putting on this live incarnation of his WGBH show, A Celtic Sojourn, for over a decade now. This year’s lineup includes Cape Breton’s Còig, whose fiddle-heavy tunes blend Irish, Scottish, and French-Canadian sounds.

$25-$45, Saturday, March 14, 8 p.m., and Sunday, March 15, 3 p.m., Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall, 45 Quincy St., 617.496.2222, ofa.fas.harvard.edu.

The Fence at Calderwood Pavilion

When Catherine O’Neill was growing up in Dorchester, being a playwright wasn’t exactly a career option. “My nuns didn’t encourage me to be a writer,” O’Neill recently quipped to the Herald. Creativity-stifling school days notwithstanding, her upbringing has clearly proven a great source of writing inspiration. Her play The Fence, which “pierces the heart of social climbing first-generation Bostonians,” draws from her childhood growing up with Irish immigrant parents in Lower Mills.

$30, through March 21, Calderwood Pavilion, 527 Tremont St., 617-933-8600, bostontheatrescene.com.

Irish Film Festival at Somerville Theatre

For the 15th anniversary of the Irish Film Festival, they’re taking over Davis Square with four days of programming showcasing roughly 30 films, plus nightly afterparties and Q&As with nearly a dozen visiting Irish filmmakers. On opening night at 7:30 p.m., don’t miss Oscar-nominated short Boogaloo and Graham. And if you’re dying to ask director Michael Lennox what inspired him to create a sweet, funny, heartstring-tugging story about two boys and their pet chickens set during Northern Ireland’s Troubles, you’ll have your chance: Lennox is appearing in person.

$11-$15 single tickets; $85 All-Access Festival Pass, Thursday through Sunday, March 19-22, Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, 617-625-5700, feitheatres.com.

St. Patrick’s Day at the Irish Cultural Centre

When the Irish Cultural Centre plans a St. Patrick’s Day event, you know they won’t be messing around. Those who make the trek out to Canton will find a formidable lineup that includes comedian Joe Rooney (who played sneering, Oasis-loving priest Father Damo on Father Ted), fiddle-playing Celtic Sojourn darlings Cat and the Moon, and even hurling matches.

Saturday through Tuesday, March 14-17, Irish Cultural Centre of New England, 200 New Boston Drive, 781-821-8291, irishculture.org.