Kells Irish Festival Is Expanding in 2023

The event is partnering with the Shamrock Run to throw a finish line celebration that should be larger than any other to date in honor of the race’s 45th anniversary.

After bringing back its Irish Festival last year for the first time since the start of the pandemic, Kells has decided to expand the event in 2023.

Today, the long-standing Portland pub announced it is partnering with the Shamrock Run to not only hold the fest over two weekends, but also throw a finish line celebration that should be bigger than any other to date in honor of the race’s 45th anniversary.

“At Kells, we’ve long been fans of the Shamrock Run and the race’s impact on downtown Portland,” Gerard McAleese, owner and operator of Kells, stated in a press release. “With our annual Irish Festival overlapping during the week of St. Patrick’s Day, it just made sense to figure out a way to partner and create a bigger impact for the city and for charity.”

Last year, the Irish Festival returned on Shamrock Run Sunday, then went dormant during the workweek until St. Patrick’s Day, when the party revved up again and ran through Saturday, March 19. However, this time around the event kicks off in Waterfront Park on Friday, March 10—two days before the race.

To start things off, Kells is reintroducing its popular Ireland vs. USA boxing event, where you can watch athletes beat each other to a pulp while downing pints of Guinness (and let’s face it, that’s about as Irish as it gets). The schedule on Saturday, March 11, features slightly tamer activities, including Irish dancing as well as live performances by local bands and bagpipers. Then, on Sunday, Shamrock participants of legal drinking age will get to celebrate sprinting, strolling or crawling across the finish line with a complimentary beer. Free Bob’s Red Mill oatmeal also awaits, though ending a run by downing a bowl of porridge sounds a bit less refreshing than sipping a pale ale.

The festival will continue the following weekend, March 17-19, with dancers, music and pipes at Kells’ two Portland locations: the original downtown pub and the brewery in Northwest Portland. Both sites are planning to offer food and drink specials.

You still have time to sign up for the Shamrock Run, known as the “opening day of running season in Portland” and one of the largest races in the Pacific Northwest. There are multiple distances and start times and even a Shamrock Stride for walkers. However, if scurrying through the city’s streets in (typically) chilly temperatures with 20,000 other people doesn’t sound like your kind of St. Patrick’s Day party, just pick another time to attend and settle in with an Irish stout.

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