St. Patrick's Day parade kicks off Celtic Music, Heritage Festival

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Floats, marching bands, pipes and drums, horse drawn carriages, military units will take to the streets for St. Augustine's St. Patrick's Day parade.  The twist?  It's held a week before the holiday as the kick-off to St. Augustine's Celtic and Heritage Festival.

The 3rd Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, steps off at 10 a.m. March 9 at Francis Field in St. Augustine, follows the bayfront to the Bridge of Lions, takes a right down Cathedral Place, and returns to its origin via Cordova Street. This event is free with viewing along the sidewalks of the parade route.

The St. Augustine Celtic Music & Heritage Festival®, will be open March 9 and 10 at Francis Field, 14 W. Castillo Drive.  Gates open at 11 a.m. each day; events are scheduled from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.

General admission is $5, no coolers, no skateboards; service dogs only. You are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. This cultural event features music by international headliners and regional stars. Enjoy highland games, visiting the clans, browsing among Celtic vendors and watching your kids have fun.

Kids under 12 are free as well as all active duty and retired military with current identification.  Runners who participated in the Gate River Run will receive free admission to the festival on Sunday by showing show their River Run bib number.

The festivities actual kick off Friday night with the 1st Annual Celtic Whiskey Tasting, sponsored by Tullamore Dew.  Gates for this event will open at 6:30 p.m., and the event will start at 7 p.m. at Francis Field. A limited amount of tickets are available for $30.

The Whiskey tasting will be presented by Florida native Ryan Charles -- a certified spirit specialist with over 12 years experience in beverage industry. Charles was the first corporate mixologist for Republic National Distributing Co, Oxley gin ambassador in Dallas, TX, and a consultant for bars and restaurants in Denver, CO. He has also trained in Paris, France at the Cointreau Academie and recently completed the Master Apprentice course for Balvenie scotch in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Traditional Irish music, contemporary Celtic Rock, Scottish pipes and drums & Highland Games' athletes, will converge in this wonderful romantic Celtic city for a weeklong celebration leading up to St. Patrick's Day on March 17. This festival honors St. Augustine's remarkable Celtic history and heritage dating back to its founding in 1565! St. Augustine is not only the Nation's Oldest City, it's the first and oldest Celtic City in all the Americas!

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