What it is: The Raleigh St. Patrick's Day Parade is a yearly parade and festival that happens on the closest Saturday to St. Patrick's Day. This year, that fell on last Saturday, March 16. We had heard that it was a lot of fun, so we decided to go and check it out.
We read that there were several different parking options. Since we were running late, as we usually are with the little ones in tow, we were trying to find a garage that was as close to the parade as possible. This way, we would make it in time and not have to walk too far. Turns out that was the wrong plan! If you head down there just in time for the parade, I highly recommend parking at either the performing arts center or convention center garages. They were further away than some garages and lots, but we ended up driving around by a bunch of full garages and lots before we finally turned around and headed back to park in the performing arts center garage.
After we finally found parking we headed to Moore Square, the site of the post race festival to find a place to catch the parade as it headed in to finish at the square. That way we had a little bit more time to find our spot before the parade passed by. We were easily able to find a spot to sit along the curb in the front row in front of some people sitting in chairs. It was the perfect spot, everyone could see perfectly.
The parade was tons of fun. The kids had a ball. There were bands, dancing troops, nice cars, adorable dogs, and even people giving out candy, beads, and stickers. What's not to like? It did go on a bit too long for the boys, so we headed over to the festival before the parade was quite over. But they were entertained for a long time watching all of the people go by.
At the festival, the lines were a bit long, but we found a place to get hot dogs for a kid-friendly lunch. Then, we bought a few tickets for some of the kid activities. We waited in the long line for the bouncy house, which the kids enjoyed. It was a fun celebration, and the whole family enjoyed it.
What we liked: We loved how the parade wasn't too crowded to get a good seat. I highly recommend trying to find a spot for the kiddos right up front so they can get some of the goodies that are tossed. Plus, the parade combined with the festival was a nice combo. Parades are free, so you only have to pay for parking and any snacks or activities.
What we would change: Like we said, parking was a bit of a walk, so you might bring a stroller for little ones. Lines for food and activities at the festival were also long, so what we might do next year is head to the festival before the parade and see if the lines are any shorter.
Website and other important information:
Location: Downtown Raleigh, Moore Square
Date: Saturday closest to St. Patrick's Day (Check website for annual date.)