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Tampa Bay Date Night Guide
How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Tampa’s River O’ Green Fest
By Laura Byrne,
Tampa’s annual River O’Green Fest returns this year on March 16, 2024! The name says it all—you can watch the river to turn a bright shade of green in celebration of the St.Patrick’s Day holiday. This is done using environmentally safe dyes, non-toxic and biodegradable dyes that meet the National Sanitation Foundation Standard 60 certification for use in and around drinking water.
River O’ Green Fest has been celebrated in Tampa since 2012 when it kicked off with then mayor Bob Buckhorn.
“Seeing our Hillsborough River turn emerald green in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is a great reminder of the excitement and fun that Tampa has to offer,” added Mayor Jane Castor. “I know how much I look forward to this annual tradition and the opportunity it brings to come together and celebrate all that makes our city great.”
The event will kick off at 11am as Tampa Mayor, Jane Castor sounds the horn to start the dying process while spectators watch as the Hillsborough River turns bright green! The festivities continue until 6pm with food, beverages, beer, music, and family-friendly activities.
Festival goers can catch “hurling” demonstrations from Tampa Bay GAA Irish Hurling Club (a rowdy mix of hockey baseball, and football). Freedom Boat Club will also be back offering free rides along the Hillsborough River.
You can also dress up your furry friend and enter them in a pet costume contest!
The 2024 Performance Schedule as of February 21:
11:15 am – 12:45 pm: Paddy O’Furniture Performance (Main Stage)
11:30 am: TBD (Terrace Stage)
1 pm: Finnegan Irish Dance Academy Performance (Terrace Stage)
1:15 pm – 2:45 pm: TBD (Main Stage)
2:30 pm: TBD (Terrace Stage)
3 pm: Finnegan Irish Dance Academy Performance (Terrace Stage)
3:30 pm: Pet Costume Contest Sponsored by Barrymore Hotel (Terrace Stage)
4 pm – 5 pm: Phoenix Five Performance (Main Stage)
NEW this year
This year’s event has several new events. The annual Rough Riders St. Patrick’s Day Parade will move from Ybor to Downtown Tampa to coincide with the River O’Green Fest. The parade will take place at 5pm in downtown Tampa starting at Joe Chillura Square and will head down Madison Street to Ashey Drive and up East Polk Street. You can view the full parade route here .
There will also be more live entertainment than ever with the addition of a second stage for more performances. Also this year, the area near Four Green Fields Pub will become an art walk and will showcase local Tampa artists with Irish connections.
You can also check out a cabbage toss game, Lucky Charms eating contest, and the chance to win Busch Gardens tickets!
Is it free to attend River O’ Green Fest?
The River O’ Green Fest is FREE to attend and absolutely a family and pet-friendly event. You can expect to see the return of live music, Irish-inspired food from local restaurants and activities designed with kids in mind.
Where are the best places to park for River O’ Green Fest in Tampa?
We recommend parking at Poe Garage near Glazer Children’s Museum, as well as the downtown lots such as the Regional Royal Lot. There are also plenty of street parking options available which will have pay-by-credit-card or pay-by-app pay stations. Click here for a complete map to Downtown Tampa’s parking garages and lots.
What’s the best way to view the green river?
Along the Riverwalk and even ON the water. You can book a trip with Pirate Water Taxi which has stops along several riverfront spots, including Curtis Hixon Park. Crews will dye the river green between the Cass Street Bridge and Kennedy Bridge for those who want to watch the water turn green right before their eyes.