St. Patrick’s celebrations all around Atlanta

The Irish are known for being lucky and loving a good time, so it’s especially fitting that St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Saturday this year.

The 130th annual Atlanta St. Patrick’s Parade marks the 154th anniversary of the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration by the Hibernian Benevolent Society of Atlanta.

The parade, expected to draw thousands of participants from across the Southeast, will feature a five-story St. Patrick balloon, what's billed as "the world's largest Irish walking flag" and Irish music star Liam O'Connor, the "Jimi Hendrix of the squeezebox."

“Atlanta has a deep appreciation of Irish arts and music, so I couldn’t think of a better place to spend St. Patrick’s Day,” said O’Connor, who will play Saturday night at the Buckhead Theatre. “I’m looking forward to meeting more Atlantans at the parade, but more than that, I can’t wait to give them a taste of Ireland during my performance.”

Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland’s minister for arts, heritage and the Gaeltacht, will be among Saturday’s parade dignitaries.

“For more than 300 years, the Irish have played a major role in the history and growth of the Southeast, particularly in the city of Atlanta,” Deenihan said. “I’m excited to celebrate Atlanta’s Irish heritage on behalf of the government of Ireland.”

Also on Saturday, Atlantic Station and Meehan’s Public House are teaming up for a new St. Patrick’s Day bash, dubbed ShamRock the Station.

Meehan’s, which recently announced plans to open a restaurant in Atlantic Station, will be on hand with food and beer trucks to fuel festivities that include live music, Irish dancing and games.

“There will be something for everyone,” said Liz Gillespie, director of marketing for Atlantic Station. “Families, music lovers, beer enthusiasts and anyone who just enjoys a fun party.”

Here’s more info on Atlanta St. Patrick’s Day 2012 festivals and events:

  • Atlanta St. Patrick's Parade -- The parade runs south on Peachtree Street from Ralph McGill Boulevard to Five Points, with a festival featuring bands, Irish dancers and children's activities at 200 Peachtree St. (adjacent to the Westin Peachtree Plaza) following the parade. Free. Saturday noon start time. 404-504-6900, http://stpatsparadeatlanta.com.
  • ShamRock the Station -- Starting at noon, families can enjoy face painting, balloon art and bagpipers. Live music begins at 5 p.m., capped off by a fireworks display. Events are located in and around Central Park and East District Avenue, and West District Avenue will be open for pedestrian traffic only. $10-$15, www.ticketalternative.com. Kids 12 and younger free. 1380 Atlantic Drive, Atlanta, 404-733-1221, www.atlanticstation.com.
  • Liam O'Connor at Buckhead Theatre -- The virtuoso accordion player delivers a high-energy combination of music, song and dance rooted in traditional Irish music with elements of blues, jazz, Cajun, Latin and classical. $25, www.ticketalternative.com. 7 p.m. Saturday. 3110 Roswell Road N.E., Atlanta, 404-843-2825, www.thebuckheadtheatre.com.
  • Smyrna St. Patrick's Day Fest -- A block party around Smyrna Market Village hosted by Atkins Park Tavern, with live music, carnival-style rides, and food and drink available from Atkins Park, Zucca Pizzeria and the Village Cafe. $5-$15, www.xorbia.com. 2 p.m., 2840 Atlanta Road S.E., Smyrna, 770-435-1887, www.atkinspark.com.
  • St. Patrick's Day at Fado -- The iconic Buckhead pub's sprawling St. Patrick's Day Outdoor Festival begins at noon with Irish dancers, bagpipers and music, including U2 tribute band Desire, but doors open for food and drink at 7 a.m. $10-$15, www.ticketalternative.com. 273 Buckhead Ave., Atlanta, 404-841-0066, www.fadoirishpub.com/atlanta.
  • Limerick Junction St. Patrick's Day 2012 -- The venerable Virginia-Highland pub celebrates its 25th anniversary St. Patrick's Day with music, pints and food in the pub at 11 a.m. and a block party in the back parking lot at 2 p.m. $5-$10. 822 N. Highland Ave., Decatur, 404-874-7147, limerickjunction.com.
  • Underground Atlanta St. Patrick's Festival -- Live entertainment all day, along with family activities, vendors, food and drink. Noon-8 p.m. Free. 50 Upper Alabama St., 404-381-1247, www.underground-atlanta.com.