< Back to News & Insights

Things To Do in Portland for St. Patrick's Day 2019

March 13, 2019 — 7 min read

This Sunday, March 17th, is St. Patrick's Day. Aside from wearing green and not getting pinched, what's the story behind this holiday? Today we're going to provide you with a history lesson, followed by a compilation of several Portland-area St. Patrick's Day celebrations and activities.

A Brief History:

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. He was born in Britain in the late 4th century, kidnapped at the age of 16, and taken to Ireland as a slave. After six years of slavery, St. Patrick escaped, but later returned to Ireland around 432 to convert the Irish to Christianity. St. Patrick died on March 17, 461. By the time of his death, he'd established monasteries, schools, and churches.


There are several legends associated with St. Patrick. He's said to have raised up to 33 people from the dead. He reportedly prayed to request provisions of food for hungry sailors while they traveled through barren land, and a herd of wild swine miraculously appeared to appease their hunger. A popular legend states that St. Patrick destroyed all the snakes of Ireland by driving them into the sea. The truth is, there are no snakes in Ireland because there's only one native species of reptiles in Ireland, the viviparous lizard. Snakes are not native to Ireland and have no real way to migrate since Ireland is an island. Likely the most popular legend is that of the shamrock. The shamrock legend states that St. Patrick used the three leaves of the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, the three persons of God in one, to an unbeliever. The shamrock legend is the source of the tradition for Irishmen wearing shamrocks, the national flower of Ireland, in their lapels on St. Patrick's Day.

The origin of secular St. Patrick's Day holiday and tradition:

Irish emigrants to the United States are largely responsible for the modern-day St. Patrick's Day celebration of shamrocks, revelry, green apparel, and all things Irish. Cities with high populations of Irish immigrants, many of whom wielded significant political power, arranged the most widespread celebrations, which often included extravagant parades. Boston's first St. Patrick's Day parade took place in 1737, with New York starting their parade tradition in 1762. Chicago has famously colored its namesake river green since 1962 using a secret formula of dye. The first year Chicago dyed the river, they used 100 lbs of the dye formula, and the color lasted for a week. After several years of fine-tuning and recalculation, the current volume of dye used allows the river to stay green for approximately twenty-four hours before it returns to its natural state.

Corned Beef and cabbage:

Corned beef is not considered an Irish national dish. Its association with St. Patrick's Day originates within the Irish-American culture. In Ireland, bacon and cabbage are a common dish. Corned beef was considered an adequate substitute for bacon by Irish immigrants in the 19th century. As a result of that substitution, corned beef and cabbage are a traditional dish consumed by Americans as part of the St. Patrick's Day festivities.

Pinching and wearing green:

Why do we wear green on St. Patrick's Day? Blame it on the leprechauns! Folklore says that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns. Leprechauns like to pinch anyone they can see, so wearing green makes you safe from pinches. Some people also believe that wearing green will bring good luck, and others wear it in honor of their Irish ancestry.

Things To Do in Portland for

St. Patrick's Day 2019

Kell's Festival Kell's Irish Restaurant and Pub hosts the longest-running St. Patrick's Day celebration in the city. This festival runs from Friday through Sunday. There are numerous bands and activities inside the pub and in the tent space outside. Sunday is Family Day--expect plenty of opportunities for face painting, food, and Irish dancing. Kell's Festival is a very popular celebration, so be sure to include extra time for parking or public transportation. The Oregon Irish St. Patrick Day Festival
  • March 17th 2-7pm
  • $12 adults, $4 kids 3-18
  • Aquinas Hall--340 NE Clackamas St, Portland
  • Oregon Irish Society
The All-Ireland Cultural Society presents a family-friendly celebration near Lloyd Center including authentic Irish Music, song, and dance. There are face painting and puppet shows for children. There will be Irish and American food and drink available for purchase, not included in the cost of admission. The Shamrock Run
  • March 17th, races start at various times between 8am-5pm
  • $49-$99 adults, $19 children
  • Starts at Waterfront Park, Portland
  • Portland Shamrock Run
The Shamrock Run is a 40-year foot race tradition in Portland. There are multiple race categories, sure to be fun for all fitness abilities: 5K, 8K, 15K, Half Marathon, Shamrock Stride (4-mile walk), and Leprechaun Lap (1K kid's fun run). All participants are encouraged to wear silly costumes and green running gear. Live bands play music to energize runners throughout the course, and the finish line includes the Widmer Brothers Beergarden with more live entertainment. This event takes place rain or shine, so be sure to pack your green rain slicker or umbrella with your running clothes. St. Agatha Sellwood-Moreland St. Patrick's Day Parade and Festival
  • March 16th, Parade 12pm, Carnival 12:30-4:30pm, Food & Beer Garden 12-5pm
  • Festival is free; cost varies for carnival games and raffle tickets, food & beer
  • Agatha Catholic School--7960 SE 15th Ave, Portland
  • 503-234-5500
  • St. Agatha Portland St. Patrick's Day Parade
The St. Agatha Sellwood-Moreland St. Patrick's Day festival initially began as a dinner and festival for the school and parish of St. Agatha in 1998. Irish dancers entertained the crowds while they ate a traditional Irish dinner and homemade soda bread. The children of St. Agatha school started a parade, which encompassed a few blocks around the school. Over the years, the festival and parade have grown to include the full Sellwood/Moreland community. The parade kicks off the festival, which includes carnival games, a cake walk, Irish dancers, pipes & drums, food carts, and a beer garden. McMenamins Kennedy School St. Patrick's Day Across the Land
  • March 16th, all-day event, with live music from noon-10pm
  • Free admission. Food and drink sold separately
  • Kennedy School--5736 NE 33rd Ave, Portland
  • 503-249-3983
  • McMenamins St. Patricks Day
McMenamins marks their favorite holiday with seasonal food and drinks such as McMenamins Irish Stout, Irish Coffee, Irish Reuben, and MacSleyne Irish Stew. For those of you with a McMenamins passport, they also offer a green just-for-fun stamp. Featured entertainment includes live music, Irish dancers, a pipe and drum band, and more. All ages welcome to attend this event, but individual bars within the Kennedy School property have age restrictions. Murphy's Furniture St. Patrick's Day Parade
  • March 16th, 9 am staging, 11 am parade procession
  • Free
  • Hare Field--1155 NE Grant St, Hillsboro
  • 503-640-1124
  • Murphy's Portland Parade
Are you more of a morning person? Do you love a parade? Kick off your Saturday with this free family-friendly event in Washington County. Started in 1979 as a Hillsboro Chamber project to promote retail trade, Murphy's produces this parade every year as a thank you to the Washington County community. After the parade, head on over to the Hillsboro Community Senior Center for the Corned Beef and Cabbage Fundraiser from noon to 2 pm. St. Patrick's Day Irish Stroll (Pub crawl)
  • Kickoff party March 15th 5pm-10pm.
  • Pub Crawl March 16th & 17th, 1pm-8pm wristband pickup, event runs through closing at participating venues
  • $15-25
  • Ages 21+
  • Registration/Starting point: On Deck Sports Bar & Grill--910 NW 14th Ave Portland
  • Portland Irish Stroll
The 21+ crowd won't want to miss this pub crawl. With seven participating bars throughout the city, you'll be sure to find food, drink, and entertainment to help you celebrate. Tickets are available for the opening party Friday night, and the two individual pub crawls Saturday and Sunday. A wristband grants you cover-free admission to each venue, and each location will have a featured beverage. However you choose to celebrate this St. Patrick's Day, we hope you have a safe and fun-filled weekend! Times and dates subject to change.
{ include "_components/button" with { primary: false, value: "Let's go get it", link: '/mortgage-loans', icon: true } %}