Nearly one 1 in 10 people living in the United States claim Irish ancestry, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, as the saying goes.
Whatever the span of your ancestry, here are five ways to celebrate the holiday, starting this weekend:
1. Alhambra Highlanders Pipes and Drums Band will lead a pub crawl through downtown Chattanooga on Saturday. Registration starts at 2 p.m. on the patio at Puckett's, 2 W. Aquarium Way, where you'll pay $25 to receive a wristband for drink specials and a commemorative T-shirt (while supplies last).
The band will first play a tribute to soldiers at the Medal of Honor Heritage Center at 2:40, then move on to stops at the Tennessee Aquarium, Mellow Mushroom, Mayan Kitchen, Big River Grille, Puckett's, Sing It or Wing It and Hair of the Dog before arriving at Leapin' Leprechaun around 7:45 p.m.
After the Highlanders' performance, Bobby Campbell and Matt Hickey will perform at Leapin' Leprechaun, an authentic Irish pub. You can find the full schedule and buy tickets at eventbrite.com.
2. Shamrock City, Rock City's Irish festival is so big it takes up two weekends. The celebration is extra special this year, said president and CEO Susan Harris, because last year's was canceled as pandemic closures began. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. the next two Saturdays and Sundays.
The big draw is always seeing the iconic waterfall turn green, but there's plenty more to do. New this year is a show in the amphitheater with Jerry the Mime, along with new food offerings (many of them green) and pop-up Irish dance performances. Bagpipers and harpists will play favorite Irish tunes.
Kids will enjoy the Suffolk sheep and Scottish Highland cow with Bagby's Critter Corral, open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., as well as an online scavenger hunt.
Admission is $26.95 for adults, $14.95 for children 3-12. Add-on tickets for an Irish concert and a meal of cottage pie, Irish soda bread and a drink, are available for $16. The Molly Maguires will perform Saturdays and Olta on Sundays.
Visit seerockcity.com/shamrock to buy tickets and view COVID restrictions.
3. Gate 11 Distillery, 1400 Market St., will host two bands and hoist a few cocktails in honor of St. Patrick on Saturday. This kick-start to the holiday will feature two bands who specialize in Celtic music: the Red Rogues from 4 to 6 p.m. and Stringer's Ridge from 7 to 10 p.m. There's no cover charge.
Rather than the full band on this outing, the Red Rogues will play as a duo. Tommy Lifsey, known to longtime Chattanooga music fans as the former drummer for Overland Express, will play bodhran and flute. William Lee, who also happens to be Gate 11's founder and master distiller, will play guitar and sing.
Lee said this will be the seventh St. Patrick's Day performance for the 7-year-old band. He hopes to put anyone with COVID-19 concerns at ease about Saturday's setup on the patio.
"Being outside is one of the great advantages we have here," he said. "We have widely spaced tables, and we require masks if you're up walking around."
4. Dreams of Kings, a trio of brothers, has two St. Patrick's Day sets on the calendar.
The first is Saturday at Tennessee Valley Theatre, 184 W. Jackson St. in Spring City, Tennessee. Tickets are $18, which includes a potato bar for dinner, plus dessert. For reservations, go to tennesseevalleytheatre.com. Face masks are required.
The second is Wednesday at Angela's Miami Grill, 509 W. Madison Ave. in Athens, Tennessee. Music starts at 6 p.m. Corned beef and Guinness beer are among the food and beverage specials. Owner Dan Bowers said anyone with COVID concerns should know that "masks are not required at all, and we do not social distance." Call 423-453-5064 for more information.
5. Feed Co. Table & Tavern, 201 W. Main St., plans a Luck of the Irish Whiskey Dinner on Wednesday. No green beer here. They're feasting on upscale Irish fare, Guinness flights and whiskey. The four-course, chef-prepared meal starts at 6:30 p.m. in the restaurant's socially distanced private event space. See the full menu and reserve a $65 ticket at eventbrite.com.
Contact Lisa Denton at email@example.com or 423-757-6281.