Kells Irish Festival, the Northwest’s largest St Patrick’s Day event,
celebrates Irish heritage with live music, dancing, food and kids activities
PORTLAND, Ore. – Thousands of locals and expats will partake in live music, traditional dancing and Irish food and libations at the 23rd annual Kells St. Patrick’s Day Festival, the Northwest’s largest St. Patrick’s Day event. This year’s festival will take place March 14 through 17 at four venues: inside the venerable Kells Irish Pub at 112 SW 2nd Ave; in a festival tent in Kells’ back parking lot; at the new Kells Brew Pub at 210 NW 21st Ave; and in a festival tent in the Brew Pub parking lot.
The festivities will kick off Friday night with live music in the pubs and a black tie smoker – a boxing event that pits Golden Glove boxers from Ireland against the best amateur pugilists of the Northwest – in the festival tent. Over the weekend, a number of family friendly activities will also be offered in the festival tent, including face painting, Irish Wolfhounds, cheese sampling and family tree research. Throughout the festival, attendees can enter a raffle for a trip to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
Live entertainment ranges from the traditional – with Irish dancing, bagpipers, and Celtic bands playing the fiddle, harmonica, guitar and Bodhran – to the popular, with the Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond headlining the Saturday night event. International sensation Shana Morrison, daughter of Van Morrison, will also play throughout the weekend. Shana is known for her unique and wide-ranging voice and genre bending style that blends pop, blues, rock, country, R&B and jazz.
Festival admission varies by day and location. See the attached schedule (PDF) for a complete breakdown of activities, hours, and costs per day.
Gerard and Lucille McAleese established Kells’ Portland location in 1990. In 1991, they began the tradition of a St. Patrick’s Day Festival that has grown into the largest Irish celebration in the Northwest. The McAleeses are some of Portland’s most respected philanthropists, and the festival is an official fundraiser for Providence Child Center.
In advance of the festival, the McAleeses “sweep the ceiling,” collecting folded dollars and quarters that have been hurled to the restaurant ceiling by the wait staff throughout the year. The amount of money collected is matched by the McAleeses and donated to Providence Child Center, which offers the only pediatric residential facility in the Northwest providing 24-hour skilled nursing care for children with profound disabilities and complex medical needs. Since its inception, the event has raised nearly $225,000 for Providence Child Center.