Celtic festival, St. Patrick parade set for March

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Plans are under way for the St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival, which will be held in March.

The festival was first produced in 2011 and has grown in popularity each year while winning multiple awards for best music festival and best food festival in St. Johns County and the Jacksonville area.

Centuries of Celtic heritage will be highlighted during the festival’s Highland Games with athletes demonstrating and testing their strength and endurance, and Celtic clans displaying their ancestral pride.

Vendors will offer Celtic cuisine and additional food and beverages, handmade and imported Celtic crafts, workshops, lectures and more. Top touring bands from Scotland, Ireland, Canada and around the United States will play traditional songs and Celtic rock throughout the two-day festival.

Starting on March 11 with a whiskey tasting from 7 to 9 p.m., the festival will continue March 12-13 with events, food and activities from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. All activities will be held at Francis Field, 25 W. Castillo Drive in St. Augustine.

A highlight of the festival weekend includes the only St. Patrick Parade in Northeast Florida, starting at Francis Field at 10 a.m. March 12. The parade has its roots in St. Augustine’s history. The city’s first Irish vicar, Father Thomas Hassett, led the area’s initial St. Patrick procession in 1601. It is the first recorded St. Patrick’s parade in the world.

This year’s parade will feature The City of St. Augustine Pipes & Drums, Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes & Drums, Jacksonville Pipes and Drums and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department’s Pipes and Drums along with local talent and parade participants through the downtown.

Parade participation and registration begins on Saturday, Jan. 15. To register, go to celticstaugustine.com/parade.

The 2022 Grand Marshal of the parade will be The Sisters of St. Joseph representing the Miguel O'Reilly House, which has been in the care and ownership of the Sisters since 1866.

The unique history of the house and its tradition is an important part of the history of St. Augustine. Father O’Reilly, an Irish priest, was vicar to the Spanish colonists in the city, which was Spain’s capital in La Florida.

The Sisters opened The O'Reilly House, known officially known as the Father Miguel O'Reilly House Museum, and the House of Don Lorenzo de Leon as a museum and fundraising site at 32 Aviles St. On Oct. 15, 1974, the house was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

For more information, vendor participation and online ticket sales and locations, go to celticstaugustine.com or celticstaugustine.com/performer-lineup.

The St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival and the parade are produced by Romanza-St. Augustine Inc. Proceeds of the festival are used to promote the arts, culture and heritage of St. Augustine. For more information about Romanza Festivale of Music and the Arts, go to  romanzafestivale.com.

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