Your Complete Guide to the Dallas St. Patrick's Day Parade

Siggi Churchill
St. Patrick's Day Parade | Siggi Churchill/flickr
St. Patrick's Day Parade | Siggi Churchill/flickr

Put on your best green outfit, and prepare to party. The Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade is back, and this year we’re celebrating two things: St. Patrick’s Day, and the 40th anniversary of the parade in Dallas. That’s four decades of bead-tossing, day-drinking and green-wearing.

If you’ve never been, it’s an awesome day. Every year more than 100,000 people come out to cheer on the parade along the 2-mile route to watch more than 90 floats pass on by.

Every year is different, and you never know what to expect. This year the parade’s grand marshal will be Mayor Mike Rawlings as he closes out his final term as Dallas mayor. Will he dress up in an all-green suit? You’ll have to the parade to find out. Don’t forget your green!

What time does the parade start, and what is the route?

Like it does every year, the parade starts at 11am and runs until 2pm, but the festival hours for the day are 9am to 3pm.

The parade’s route looks like a backward L. It starts at the intersection of Blackwell Street and Greenville Avenue, then it goes in a straight line down Greenville. The route passes Caruth Haven Lane, Southwestern Boulevard, Lovers Lane, Milton Street and University Boulevard, then it takes a right on SMU Boulevard, before coming to an end just before Highway 75.

What’s my best viewing spot?

Honestly, as long as you find yourself somewhere on Greenville Avenue between Blackwell Street and University Boulevard, there’s really no such thing as a bad spot.

But there are some parties you should be aware of along the parade route. If you’re headed out to the parade with family, especially young kids, maybe stick around Lovers Lane, where Lakewood Fellowship will host a party and Comerica Bank will have a family zone. CW33, which will have a live broadcast of the parade, will be next to the family zone.

For those of you without family or kids, BuzzBall Mixed Drinks will have a party south of Lovers Lane, Goody Goody will have a tailgate party next to that, and Deep Ellum Brewing Co. will host a Brew Fest next to that.

What are the parade rules?

Technically there are no official rules on the parade’s website, but that doesn’t mean you have permission to run amok.
First, you should keep in mind that Dallas has a law against open containers, and you can expect for them to be enforced during the parade -- kind of. If you’re at an official party along the parade’s route, like the ones being hosted by BuzzBall or Deep Ellum Brewing Co., you’re safe. If you’re running up and down the street with a beer in your hand, you’re probably not safe. Of course, we'd never endorse breaking any laws by drinking outside designated zones, so if you choose to do so, that's on you.

Whatever you do, don’t act like a fool like Dallas Cowboy running back Zeke Elliott did during the 2017 parade. Keep your hands to yourself.

What will the weather be like?

Texas weather can be unpredictable, but generally, the weather is pretty favorable for St. Patrick’s Day in Dallas. It’s almost officially spring, so temperatures tend to be pretty mild -- not too hot, not too cold. Spring in Texas also means rain, but again, the weather’s pretty favorable and the parade is generally spared from severe weather or storms. Keep your fingers crossed for good weather.

What should we wear?

Green -- duh. Some people go all out -- wearing green tuxedos or other green costumes. Other people keep it casual, and just wear a green t-shirt with some jeans. It’s up to you how festive you want to be. Pro tip: If you have any green Mavericks, Cowboys or Texas Rangers gear, this is the day to flaunt it.

How do we get there?

Please, if you plan on drinking, do not drive. Your best option is to have a designated driver, but if you and all of your friends want to drink, then then next best option is to split an Uber or Lyft. Fair warning: With so many people -- ahem, like, more than 100,000 of them -- trying to get to and from the same area, Uber and Lyft prices can get a bit pricey. If prices get too high for your wallet, consider taking the DART train to and from the festivities. It’s cheaper and you don’t have to worry about parking.

How far back does St. Patrick's Day history go in Dallas?

This year Dallas will be celebrating its 40th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. That may not sound super impressive when you consider that cities like New York and Boston have had their St. Patrick’s Day parades for more than a century, but it’s still a big accomplishment for Dallas, especially because it almost didn't happen in 2012.

In 2012, the Dallas Observer pulled out of the parade, according to Business Insider. Up until then the Observer was the main sponsor of the parade, but when they dropped out that year, Budweiser followed the paper’s lead, which left the parade short on cash.

That’s when Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban stepped in to save the parade. Cuban handed the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association, which puts on the parade, a check for $40,000 to keep the parade funded.

“Actually, I don't have any memories of the parade,” Cuban then jokingly told NBC’s Dallas affiliate. “They told me it was a good time. I figured it's such a Dallas tradition that -- I figured that I killed a whole bunch of brain cells, I want to give everybody else a chance... You just can't let a Dallas tradition like that die.”

Since then, the tradition lives on, and the Mavericks continue to be a presenting sponsor.

What else is there to do that weekend?

Immediately after the parade, you can stick around for the annual St. Patrick’s Day concert. This year it’ll feature cover bands throwing it back with hits by Prince, P!nk, Michael Jackson, Queen and more. (FYI: Unlike the parade, the concert is not free, and you’ll need a ticket.)
If you’re not feeling a concert, there’s plenty of other options. If you want to stay in the Greenville Avenue area, Sundown at Granada and Lucky’s will both be throwing parties.
Or mosey on down to the Knox-Henderson area for specials at bars like Old Monk or the Uptown area to keep the day-drinking going at places like Old Friar or Katy Trail Ice House. Green beer and drinks will be flowing at all of them so you can’t really go wrong.
And if you live further north, don’t worry because there’s parties up there, too. The annual block party is set for the Shops at Legacy at bars like Ringo’s Pub, Scruffy Duffies and the Brixton. They’ll have live music and, of course, green beer. Cheers!

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Michael Gordon is a Thrillist contributor.