Ah, St. Patrick's Day, the only holiday that openly acknowledges that green beer is perfectly paired with religion and zealous national pride. This year's corned beef and cabbage is seasoned with a bit of controversy: Since March 17 falls during the Lenten Holy Week, many members of the Catholic hierarchy have suggested changing celebrations to a day that doesn't coincide with recognizing the death and resurrection of Jesus. Others, however, are sticking with tradition and not changing a thing. Religion aside, the good news is that this year the Irish festivities are spread out over a few days, so you can hit them all up. It just wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day without parades full of noisy, green-clad Irish (or wannabe Irish) folks. In St. Paul, the St. Patrick's Association is holding its 42nd annual parade, which starts at noon and goes west on Fourth Street in downtown to Rice Park, all on Saturday to avoid the Holy Week conflict. The Minneapolis parade starts at 6:30 p.m. and goes north on Nicollet ending at Fifth Street and is still scheduled for the 17th. For those looking to absorb Irish dance and culture on Sunday, the Landmark Center (75 W. Fifth St., St. Paul; 651.292.3225) is hosting an Irish festival with a daylong schedule of traditional dancing and music, storytellers and vendors, for free from 11 a.m. to 5 pm. On Monday, Minnesotans for a United Ireland is having a Ceili (traditional Irish social dance) with live music by the Blackbirds and dance lessons at Randolph Heights Elementary School (for $8 at 6:30 p.m. at 348 Hamline Ave. S., St. Paul). At the James J. Hill House, vocal collective Classic Sounds will perform a series titled An Irish Journey: Songs from the Emerald Isle ($14 at 7:30 p.m. at 240 Summit Ave., St. Paul; 651.297.2555). For those intending to soak up as much Guinness and Jameson as possible, there are plenty of pub happenings. Kieran's Irish Pub (330 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.339.4499) is hosting concerts on the 16th and 17th, including bands Erin Rogue and the Sweet Colleens. At O'Gara's (164 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul; 651.644.3333), the bar opens at 8 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day, and bands will play all weekend. Don't miss the "World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade" which starts on the corner of Selby and Snelling, goes through the bar, and ends in O'Gara's Garage. The overlap of St. Patrick's Day and Holy Week makes planning the celebrations so easy, it's too bad it won't happen again until 2160. For more info on the St. Paul St. Patrick's Day Parade, call 651.256.2155 or go to www.stpatassoc.org. For more information on the Minneapolis St. Patrick's Day Parade, call 763.234.7111 or go to www.mplsstpats.org.
Sat., March 15, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 2008