When we think of Spain we often think of flamenco dancers, bull fighting and salsa music, but not all of Spain is characterized by stereotypical Spanish culture. In the mountains of Northern Spain where the Picos de Europa spill out of France and into the lush, green Spanish countryside, you are much more likely to hear bagpipes, sip cider and see remnants of the Celtic culture. It’s from this part of Spain — specifically from a city called Aviles in a province known as Asturias — that St. Augustine’s founder Pedro Menendez de Aviles was born. When he discovered the Nation’s Oldest City in 1565, he imparted his mixed Spanish and Celtic culture on our beautiful little city.
Nearly 450 years later, we finally have an annual celebration to honor our Celtic roots: the St. Augustine Celtic Festival
. This year, the festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday, March 10th and 11th at the Special Events Field. A delectable assortment of Celtic foods will be served while musicians and entertainers of all sorts regal us with bagpipes and Irish dancing.
The festival will kick off in grand fashion with the St. Patrick’s Day parade
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(held on Saturday, March 10th this year because of conflicts with the Seafood Festival the following weekend). Participants and floats will follow a parade route from the Special Events Field, down Orange Street to the bayfront, in front of the Castillo de San Marcos to the plaza, where they will head up Cathedral Place, turn north on Cordova and finish off back at the Special Events Field. The parade begins at 10:00 a.m. with festivities to follow at the Special Events Field well into the night.
Although the festival officially ends on Sunday, March 11th, performances from some great Celtic musicians will continue at Ann O’Malley’s on Orange Street and Meehan’s Irish Pub on the bayfront through St. Patrick’s Day.
This is a wonderful event for people of all ages to enjoy. Come for a day or stay for a weekend. In fact, we would suggest that you stay with us in the Oldest City for that entire week. Not only is early March the most beautiful time of year in the city, but if you come for the Celtic Festival you’ll want to stick around for the 31st Annual Lion’s Seafood Festival the following weekend. Imagine sandwiching two culturally rich festivals with a few beach days in between!
Sounds like a dream to us!