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St. Patrick's Day 2012: Celebrate with NYC kids

Experience the luck o' the Irish at these festive St. Patrick's Day events for families.

  • St. Patrick's Day Open House, Irish Arts Center

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Irish Arts Center

    St. Patrick's Day Open Day at the Irish Arts Center

  • Courtesy of the Irish Arts Center

    Annual St. Patrick's Open Day

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the Irish Arts Center

    Irish Arts Center

  • St. Patrick's Day in Irish New York, St Paul's Chapel

  • The Craic Fest, Tribeca Cinemas, Granny O'Grimm 3D

St. Patrick's Day Open House, Irish Arts Center

St. Patrick's Day is almost here! While the mid-March holiday has traditionally been treated as an excuse for the over-21 crowd to flock to the local pub, the city has plenty of events created especially for the younger set. Over the course of the month, kids can get a crash course in Irish culture at the Irish Arts Center and learn Irish step dancing at the Staten Island Children's Museum—and let's not forget the annual revelry. Scroll down for more ideas! 

It'll be a (sham-)rocking good time as the Craic presents its 14th annual festival, featuring film shorts, Irish step dancing and storytelling. A reception afterward offers goody bags for the kids as well as refreshments and scones. Sat Mar 10 at 11am. Tribeca Cinemas. $10, children under 13 $5. Ages 3 to 12.

Take your little Lord of the Dance to learn some classic Irish step dancing. As part of Staten Island's "Irish Spring" events and in direct correlation with St. Patrick's Day, a group lesson will introduce your kid to the noisy, fast and absolutely fun art of Irish dance. Tap away! Sat Mar 10 at 2pm. Staten Island Children's Museum. $6. All ages.

Start celebrating the Irish holiday a few days early (and in a more kid-friendly fashion) by taking little ones to the park to craft a shamrock pinwheel. Thu Mar 15 2--4pm. Central Park Chess and Checkers House. Free. All ages.

The Children's Museum of Manhattan invites toddlers of various ages to get creative for St. Paddy's with a full day of activities. Youngsters under the age of four create a collage full of green shamrocks (10am, 1pm), while older kids (ages 5 and up) learn about the creation of rainbows and create their own rainbow mobile (noon). Sat Mar 17 10am--1pm. Children's Museum of Manhattan. $11, children under 1 free. All ages.

No St. Paddy's Day in NYC would be complete without staking out a spot at this parade, which makes its 251st march up Fifth Avenue this year. (The event is even older than the United States; it was started by a group of homesick Irish conscripts from the British army in 1762.) More than 2 million onlookers are expected to show up for the spectacle, which this year honors American veterans with bands from every branch of the U.S. military and the attendence of high-ranking officials. Note: The parade, which can get rowdy, is best for older kids and tweens. Sat Mar 17 11am--5pm. Fifth Ave at 44th St to Fifth Ave at 86th St (718-231-4400, nycstpatricksparade.org). Free. Ages 9 to 12.

If the traditional St. Paddy's parade is too much for you, check out the lower-key, lower-Manhattan walking tour, themed especially for St. Patrick's Day. Walkers will explore NYC's former "Little Ireland" district, learn about the incredible contribution Irish immigrants made to the overall history of the city, and understand why this day is more popular in New York than it is in Ireland. Note: The meeting point is in front of St. Paul's Chapel. Sat Mar 17 at 11am. St. Paul's Chapel. $18. All ages.

Have the kids spend St. Patrick's Day at the Brooklyn Children's Museum learning about Irish culture, food and celebratory traditions—at the end, they'll make their own lucky charm. Sat Mar 17, Sun Mar 18 11:30am--12:30pm. Brooklyn Children's Museum. Free with museum admission. Ages 2.5 to 5.

The Irish Arts Center invites families to an Irish extravaganza, filled with authentic music, dances and workshops and a fun atmosphere. Learn to play the tin-whistle, get your face painted, experiment with tap-dancing, or simply sit back and watch the artists perform at this celebration of Irish culture. Sun Mar 18 at noon. Irish Arts Center. Free. Ages 3 and up.

For those looking for a lower-key St. Paddy's Day parade, consider celebrating everything Irish at Park Slope's annual parade! Slopeside families can begin their procession by assembling at Prospect Park West at 14th St at noon, then journeying down 15th Street to 7th Avenue before finishing at Union St. Sun Mar 18 at 1pm. Prospect Park West at 14th St (brooklynstpatricksparade.com). Free. All ages. 

New York's only preserved 19th-century house celebratse the grand-opening tour of the fourth-floor servants' quarters, which were carefully restored and repainted in their original colors. Families will learn about the daily successes and struggles of the Irish immigrants who worked as servants in the mid 19th century. Sat Mar 17 noon--4pm. Merchant's House Museum. $10, students and seniors $5, children under 12 free. Ages 5 and up.

Even though St. Patrick's Day officially takes place on March 17, Brooklyn-based broods can keep the fun going by rounding up the crew for the 19th annual Bay Ridge St. Patrick's Day Parade later in the month. "Stepping off" at 1pm, the parade will start from the intersection at 4th Avenue and Marine Avenue, and will proceed down 4th Avenue towards 5th Avenue before ending at 60th Street. Sun Mar 25 at 1pm. 4th Ave at Marine Ave (nysenate.gov). Free. All ages.

A new festival this year, Irish Arts explores the Emerald Isle's culture through jig lessons, mythical animations, and storytelling and knitting workshops. Sat Mar 31 10am--5pm. Children's Museum of the Arts. $10. All ages.



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