Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade

Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade
The Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade is one of the longest-running Saint Patrick’s Day parades in the United States. Although Atlanta doesn’t belong to U.S. cities with large Irish American population, the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is rather large and spectacular.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Atlanta was held in 1858. In the years to come the parade was organized by the Hibernian Benevolent Society, a Catholic and Protestant fraternal organization, to honor the heroic deeds of Catholic Priest Father Thomas O’Reilly during the Civil War and later also of the Hibernian Rifles. Historic Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta even has a plot dedicated to the Hibernian Rifles in gratitude for their service to the city.

According to the written evidence that dates back to 1893, Atlanta’s St. Patrick’s Day parade featured Irishmen from the Hibernian Benevolent Society, the Catholic Knights of Atlanta and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, accompanied by a marching band. The procession was followed by a mass in the local Catholic church, after which it resumed. For the next century, the parade was a small, but beloved tradition, being discontinued only during the First and Second World Wars.

Everything changed in 1999 when local Irish groups formed the parade committee to organize a larger St. Patrick’s Day parade with more participation. Since then, the parade has grown to become one of the city’s most anticipated cultural events of the year. Its main goal is to educate the general public about the significant contribution made by the Irish to the city of Atlanta and the United States in general.

The Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade is an Irish-themed event, but participation isn’t just an “Irish thing”. The procession features groups and individuals from around Atlanta and the region. All kinds of groups are encouraged to take part as long as their unit is family friendly. The parade features beautifully decorated floats, marching bands, drill teams, Bagpipe & Drum Corps, clowns, dancers, children, and more.

The Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade is typically held on the Saturday prior to Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17). It travels through Midtown Atlanta on Peachtree Street, starting at noon and lasting for one and a half hours. The parade is held rain or shine. It is a free event open to the public.

Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade

Photo: Michael Miller




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