WINCHESTER — Go green in downtown Winchester this weekend at the fourth Old Town St. Paddy’s Celtic Festival.
The festival will take place on the Loudoun Street Mall from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, celebrating the community’s Irish and Scottish heritage. There is no charge to enjoy the live music, dance performances and various activities. Green balloons will bob outside of participating shops and restaurants.
“The festival gets people together to enjoy the Irish culture in the area,” said Downtown Manager Jennifer Bell. “People tend to get discouraged by the cold, messy weather. This gets people of out the house and socializing with their friends and neighbors.”
The City of Winchester Pipes and Drums group plans to parade up and down the walking mall at different times during the day. The Armstrong Irish Dance Studio out of Winchester is slated to entertain at 1 p.m. at 50/50 Taphouse and at 2 p.m. on the lawn of the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum. Joining the festival for the first time this year is the Celtic Rhythm School of Dance out of Loudoun County. They will perform at 3 p.m. on the Civil War Museum lawn.
Area bands including Merlin’s Beard Band, Capital Celtic and One Street Over are set to bring Irish tunes to several downtown businesses.
“You can enjoy the music regardless of what Mother Nature brings us for weather,” Bell said.
New for this year, downtown shops will offer special discounts during the festival from 17 percent off merchandise to a free gift with a qualifying purchase.
Many restaurants on the mall are prepared to tempt taste buds with Irish-inspired cuisine, including a corned beef and cabbage platter at Macadoos, Irish crème lattes at Espresso Bar and Café and Irish stew and chicken-and-leek pie at Union Jack.
“Restaurants are trying to do something different and unique in the spirit of the Celtic Festival,” Bell said.
A portion of food and drink purchases support the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke counties.
Also during the festival, the Handley Library, in partnership with the Magic Lantern Theater, will screen the 1998 comedy “Waking Ned Devine “ – set in Ireland — at 2 p.m. at the library.
Balloons, face painting, a photo booth and Celtic-themed games will provide entertainment for the whole family.
“There are two sides to the festival,” Bell said. “You can go have a beer for a traditional St. Paddy’s Day celebration, but there’s also the family-oriented side too. It’s important for people to realize it’s not just people out drinking, but also a place for family-friendly entertainment for everybody.”
For a complete schedule of events, shopping discounts and dining specials visit www.oldtownwinchesterva.com.