Ahh, St. Paddy's Day. Irish folks' most significant cause for yearly celebration always results in an overflow of activities, especially in a South Florida community dense with Irish natives. March 17 is more than an excuse for alcoholic (over)indulgence; it's a celebration of Irish culture. From live music to parades to traditional Irish food and drink, Saint Patrick's Day is being observed throughout the area, for the entire week, for that matter. Here's a quick sample of the lager-fueled goings-on:
Beginning Sunday, March 14, Hollywood throws its own party in the downtown area. In fact, it's a block party that covers the entire 1900 block of Harrison Street. The mass shindig takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. and includes live entertainment, food, and, yes, drinks galore. To sweeten the deal, this event is free. Call 954-921-3404.
True music aficionados should look no further than the Broward Center (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). The fun begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saint Paddy's Day, in the Horvitz Grand Lobby, where Mr. Fiddle's Stringsters play. For an extra $7.50, guests can dine on a Saint Paddy's boxed dinner of traditional corned beef and cabbage. At 7 p.m., champion step dancers perform jigs, along with contemporary and Gaelic songs, during "Mick Maloney's Irish-American Music & Dance Festival."
But the musical highlight of the week is the charged-up jig of the renowned band Dervish. Performing at the Broward Center's Amaturo Theater at 8:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, the seven-piece band melds sonic artistry with symbiotic musicianship. Get your boogie on as this award-winning septet serves up tunes by way of flute, accordion, and fiddle teamed with customary Irish instruments such as bouzouki, bodhran, and bones. By taking new approaches to its homeland's musical stylings, Dervish (which means "enraptured by music") has endured a successful ten-year run, garnering praise through gigs at venues as disparate as the Great Wall of China and the Milwaukee Irish Festival. The band released its seventh album, Spirit, in February. Tickets to the Dervish show cost $25. Visit www.browardcenter.org.
Not so far down the beaten path, Maguire's Hill 16 pub (535 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale) hosts its yearly Saint Patrick's extravaganza, heralded as the "biggest festival in South Florida." Maguire's kicks off the festivities at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 16, with house band Celt, as well as Minstrels of Mayhem, Ox of Rocks, and Dennis Murray from Ireland. On March 17 each year, about 3,000 people show up under the giant tent outside to gorge on food and drink specials, which start with Irish breakfast and coffee (or Guinness for some) at 7 a.m. Call 954-764-4453.
For those of you in the northern part of our fair territory, get your drink on at the massive "Irish Fest on Flagler" in West Palm Beach, featuring Irish-influenced bands almost nonstop from 5 p.m. Friday, March 12, through 8 p.m. Sunday, March 14. A three-day pass costs $15. While you're downtown, pop into O'Shea's Irish Pub, the comfiest Irish bar on this side of the pond. -- Kiran Aditham