Kiss Me, I’m Irish: Where to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Nashville Style
Get into the St. Patrick's Day spirit at one of many Nashville venues perfect for the greenest of the holidays.
St. Patrick’s Day may be one of the lesser-celebrated holidays, but it is nevertheless the perfect excuse to have a good time and indulge a little too much every March 17th. Although kids enjoy getting a chance to pinch anybody who isn’t wearing green on this festive holiday, it is largely an adult-centered celebration, and outside of Ireland or Boston, there are few better places to get into the spirit of the occasion than Nashville, Tennessee. Every year, the city comes alive for St. Patrick’s Day and the days leading up to it, and you can easily find the perfect place to grab some green beer, celebrate your Irish heritage (even if you don’t really have an Irish heritage), and party well into the night. If you’re looking for a family-friendly way to spend St. Patrick’s Day, Nashville has you covered there, too. Read on to discover the best ways to celebrate this fun day of merriment in the heart of Music City.
Music City Irish Fest
Kick off your tour of Nashville’s St. Patrick’s Day scene with one of the area’s biggest family-friendly events, the Music City Irish Fest. This is the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the city, but it is one of the only ones that doesn’t involve a lot of drinking! This street festival takes place on Demonbreun Hill in downtown Nashville, where the sidewalks are filled with vendors, food and drink sales stalls, and stages that are packed with live musicians and dancers all throughout the event. In 2016, Music City Irish Fest takes place from 11am to 11pm on March 12, so if you’re in town a few days before the actual holiday, this can be a great way to warm up for the big day.
Head to the main stage to enjoy performances by the Southern Academy of Irish Dance and the Nashville Irish Step Dancers, both of which are well-known in the field of Irish dancing. The Southern Academy of Irish Dance team is comprised of young children and teenagers who have been studying this art form for years, so take the kids along to this impressive performance. The whole family is sure to enjoy the nationally acclaimed adult team known as the Nashville Irish Step Dancers, as well. After admiring the talents of these performers, check out The Willis Clan, a group of 12 sibling musicians who perform traditional Irish music at the Grand Ole Opry and who will be putting on shows periodically throughout the Music City Irish Fest.
Entertainment isn’t all the festival has to offer. Stop in The Violin Shop or Burke Whistles, both of which sell traditional Irish instruments all year round, and try your hand at playing the penny whistle. Purchase some handcrafted leather goods from one of the street vendors, and learn a little bit about Ireland from tents devoted solely to education and tourism information. Grab some jewelry inspired by Irish and Celtic traditions, or pick up some authentic Irish goods straight from overseas. You can even buy a kilt if you choose! Kids and adults both who might have been intrigued by the step dancing performances can join small classes throughout the day to learn a few basic steps from these popular dances. There is truly something for everyone to enjoy at the Music City Irish Fest!
Music City Irish Fest kicks off at 1538 Demonbreun Street.
Kegs & Eggs
Running a 5k might not be the first activity that comes to mind when you think about St. Patrick’s Day, but Kegs & Eggs is a recent Nashville tradition that has become very popular with locals, and more tourists are getting involved every year. Consider joining in when you find yourself in the city looking for something to do after St. Patrick’s Day has ended! In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, adult participants are welcome to enjoy free beer at a local restaurant known as Tin Roof after the race has concluded. Although only adults can have the beer, kids are welcome to join in the race as long as they can keep up!
Kegs & Eggs features a 5k option as well as a 10k option, so you can challenge yourself as much as you choose. This event is a run, and although slower participants are welcome to join, it is not an “at your own pace” event. Be prepared to keep up with the crowd, and only sign up for the 10k if you feel like you can complete it within an hour and a half, as this is the time limit for the longer run. Feel free to bring your stroller or your dog along for the exercise! It costs $35 to register for the event ahead of time, or $45 to register the day of the race. Don’t forget to wear your green and take part in the St. Patrick’s Day cheer!
After the race has ended, head to Tin Roof to enjoy a free breakfast for all participants. Tin Roof is known for its egg burritos, which will be available in excess for runners. Grab a free beer and relax after working up a sweat first thing in the morning! After you’ve regrouped from the race, consider hanging around in the surrounding area and experiencing everything the Gulch district of downtown Nashville has to offer. This can be a great chance to get a little sightseeing and shopping done as long as you’re in the area. Remember that the Kegs & Eggs race begins promptly at 9am, so plan to arrive at least a half hour beforehand to give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
Kegs & Eggs begins at 1516 Demonbreun Street in Nashville.
St. Paddy's Day Festival
Although it may be a little bit less culturally-minded than the Music City Irish Fest, the Nashville St. Paddy’s Day Festival is another great way to get into the spirit of the holiday while you’re in town. Taking place on March 16, this event runs from 11am late into the evening and includes a wide variety of activities the whole family can enjoy. Shortly after the doors open, the festival conducts a Kid Parade, in which children can march and dance along to Irish music to help get them pumped up for a day of fun and merriment. Kids are also encouraged to participate in the Best Little Leprechaun competition, which takes place at noon, and aim for the grand prize and designation as the most leprechaun-like kid of the day. Starting at 1pm, various local bands take the stage to perform Irish classics as well as more common music, with plenty of country songs thrown into the mix to celebrate Nashville’s culture. Of course, the festival is packed with food trucks and alcoholic drink vendors, so you won’t have to worry about going hungry or thirsty while you’re enjoying yourself.
Nashville’s St. Paddy’s Day Festival takes place at East Park, one of Nashville’s up and coming event venues. The park is located outside of downtown Nashville, which can give you a chance to relax and breathe a little bit if you’ve been spending most of your time in the hustle and bustle of the city center. The park features a community center building, as well as plenty of outdoor space. You’ll be getting tons of fresh air when you head to the St. Paddy’s Day Festival! This is one of the better opportunities for including kids in your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, so be sure to visit the festival if time permits while you are in Nashville. Many of the events that take place on St. Patrick’s Day itself are less kid-friendly. Take advantage of this one!
The Nashville St. Paddy’s Day Festival takes place at 700 Woodland Street.
McNamara's Irish Pub
There are plenty of places where you can get a good Irish beer in Nashville, but none of them can compete with McNamara’s Irish Pub. Known for being one of the best places to spend St. Patrick’s Day and the week leading up to it, McNamara’s hosts a ton of festivities spanning several days to get the party started and keep it going strong. Beginning a few days before the holiday itself, the pub features several authentic Irish musicians performing live on the stage all night long, including local band Nosey Flynn, comprised of three excellent Nashville based musicians. If you catch the earlier show around dinner time, it is a family-friendly performance, but later night shows may include lyrics and language that you might not want your kids to hear, so keep that in mind when planning your visit.
McNamara’s is well known for its 25 varieties of Irish whiskey, as well as its imported Irish beers that are always kept on tap. On St. Patrick’s Day itself, the bar charges a $15 cover charge if you plan to drink, but on the days leading up to the holiday itself, there is no cover charge required. Work your way through as many Irish whiskies as you can manage, and don’t forget to throw a little Irish coffee (made with Bailey’s Irish cream, of course!) into the mix along the way. Sop by from 3pm to 6pm on the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy happy hour pricing and sample 20-ounce pints for $5 each.
McNamara’s is just as popular for its food as it is for its alcohol, so even if you don’t plan to drink or you happen to visit with kids in tow, you can still check out this authentic Irish pub and enjoy its delicious edible offerings. Start your meal with an appetizer of corned beef bites or Scotch eggs, then move on to the main course and try some steak & Guinness pie or Irish stew. If you’re feeling particularly Irish, consider trying the bangers & mash, or go for the ploughman’s lunch, which includes cheese, cold cuts, bread, fruit, and chutney. Everything at McNamara’s is sure to be very hearty and filling, and if the weather is as cold as it sometimes can be in March in Tennessee, it will be a welcome way to warm up from the inside out!
McNamara’s Irish Pub is located at 2740 Old Lebanon Road.
Main Street Brew Fest
On the Saturday of St. Patrick’s Day, make your way to downtown Franklin, an affluent part of Nashvile’s suburbs, to enjoy the Main Street Brew Fest. Don your favorite green clothing and you might even enjoy discounts from some of the twenty alcoholic drink stations that line the streets of this upscale downtown hot spot. Be sure to check inside the local shops as well as around the sidewalk, as some of the best specials are hidden out of plain sight! This is an excellent time to stop in some of downtown Franklin’s most popular places to eat, as well. Keep your eyes peeled for country music stars, as many of them call Franklin home while they’re not on the road for a tour.
The best part of the Main Street Brew Fest is the chance to sample over fifty local brews from Tennessee and the Southeastern part of the United States. If you love craft beers and enjoy trying to find the next big thing in the world of brews, be sure to make this exciting event a part of your St. Patrick’s Day visit to Nashville! The Main Street Brew Fest takes place rain or shine, which includes inclement weather, so you don’t have to worry about the event being cancelled on you at the last minute. This is a very popular activity for Nashville residents and tourists alike, so it is wise to purchase your tickets ahead of time. You do not have to have a ticket to walk around and enjoy the shops that are open for regular business during the event, but if you plan to join in the beer taste testing, you will need to purchase admission. It may go without saying, but tickets will only be sold to attendees over the age of 21.
Check out downtown Franklin’s web site to purchase tickets as soon as they become available.
Located in the Gulch district of downtown Nashville, The Pub needs no other name. This great place to eat and drink is wildly popular with Nashville locals, so do yourself a favor and stop by to see what all the fuss is about! Although The Pub does not offer specials on the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, visit on March 17th to enjoy a big, festive celebration. Snag some green beer for $3 a glass, or enjoy popular Irish beers like Guinness or Smithwick’s for $5 each. You can even indulge in jello shots for $2 each if you prefer your drink with a little extra something! From 4pm until midnight, The Pub becomes so packed with partiers that the revelry carries out into a massive street party. This is definitely the place to be on the night of St. Patrick’s Day when you’re looking for an adults-only party in the heart of Nashville!
If you’re looking for a drink to sample outside the specials available on St. Patrick’s Day, try the Boddington’s Pub Ale, which combines the scent of toffee and vanilla with the sweet creamy taste of brown sugar. For a more authentically Irish flavor, try the Smithwick’s, which features an herbal aroma with a smoky, raspberry finish unlike any other drink you might try at The Pub. Of course, like any good area bar, there are plenty of local options available on the rotating tap, so don’t skip anything that might sound interesting to you from these choices. Head to the Pull Your Own Beer Wall for a fun, interactive way to get your own beer straight from the tap, which can be particularly entertaining if you’ve never tried it before! If you want to stop by on a day other that St. Patrick’s Day, plan you visit from 3pm to 7pm to enjoy Happy Hour specials.
The Pub is located at 400 11th Avenue South.
Last but not least, check out M.L. Rose, a craft beer and burger joint that has become very popular with Nashville locals, to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a tasty and affordable (if a bit Americanized) meal and drink. Bring the kids along if you visit for lunch or an early dinner, or come on your own after 5pm and party well into the night at the restaurant’s well stocked bar. For the five days leading up to and including St. Patrick’s Day (March 13-17), both of Nashville’s M.L. Rose locations will offer specials on Irish drinks and food items, as well as on several other menu options that might be of interest to you. Be sure to order the fries, which are temporarily renamed “when Irish fries are smiling,” and which come topped with herbs and beer cheese for a truly Irish flavor.
During St. Patrick’s Day, M.L. Rose offers green craft beer for $3 a glass, so if you’re feeling especially festive, don’t miss out on this fun deal. Since the restaurant serves craft beers, all of its other offerings tend to change throughout the year, and most come from local Tennessee breweries. The green beer is a good place to start, but while you’re at M.L. Rose, be sure to sample some of the other fine brews they have available for you to purchase. Try whatever is on tape from one of Nashville’s local breweries, Little Harpeth, and enjoy the unique and sometimes downright strange flavor and hops combinations this brew house is known for. For something a little more Irish in nature, try the Benford Irish Honey Ale, which is a pale ale with honey and oats that tastes like a traditional Irish brew. Of course, if you’re not too picky about what you try, you might want to sample the Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout, which is a sturdy stout brewed with chocolate to create a wintertime treat you’re sure to love.
The food at M.L. Rose is excellent, and the waffle fries are a great place to start your dinner at this restaurant. During St. Patrick’s Day, this eatery offers a shepherd’s pie special, which is not always listed on the menu, so be sure to ask for it if you’re interested in giving it a try! There are plenty of other delicious foods available to order from M.L. Rose, however, so whatever you feel like indulging in along with your beer, they’re sure to be able to satisfy. Try the barbecue brisket wrap, made with shredded beef brisket, barbecue sauce, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a lime ranch dip for a unique combination of Irish ingredients and Southern cooking styles that is sure to leave you happy and full.
M.L. Rose is located at 4408 Charlotte Avenue.
Nowhere else but Nashville can you find the perfect collision of country music and Irish pride! Head to your favorite pub or catch some live music to celebrate all things Irish the next time you find yourself in Tennessee’s capital city. Whatever kind of entertainment you’re in the mood for, it’s only a few steps away from wherever you might be in Nashville!
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