Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Outer Banks

One of the best Outer Banks events in March is the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in Nags Head. It has grown to become the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in North Carolina and one of the best annual events of the Outer Banks.

Founded by Mike Kelly and other local business leaders in 1990, the parade brings an Irish flair to the Outer Banks, delighting visitors and locals alike. The parade brings out a wide variety of local and regional groups for a fun-loving afternoon.

Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in the Outer Banks || OBX Cola Vaughan Realty

Founding of the Parade

Local business and community leaders organized the first parade in 1990. The parade was originally meant to break up the offseason when there were far fewer year-round residents and businesses than there are today.

While the Outer Banks are beautiful at any time of year, it gets quiet in the offseason when visitors are fewer in number. Organizers wanted to show visitors a good time and to bring locals together to enjoy a special day.

The parade organizers considered October, March, and April for their parade, and settled on St. Patrick’s Day as a fun, inclusive time where everyone is Irish for the day despite their personal background.

Enjoying the Parade

The parade began as a small event with mostly schoolchildren involved. At first, there were far more participants than people watching the parade. It quickly became one of the best annual events of the Outer Banks.

Over the years, many more community groups began signing up for the parade, and the crowds grew steadily. The parade features about 90 units and grows more each year. The parade features such groups as:

  • Marching Bands
  • Drill Teams
  • Civic Organizations
  • Local Scout Groups
  • Musicians
  • Floats
  • Horses
  • Bikes

A panel of prominent local judges ranks the parade entries in such categories as Best Float, Best Band/Music Group, Best Unit, and Best Overall. Prizes are given, and everyone has bragging rights that last until the following year.

When you come to enjoy Outer Banks events in March, you will be welcomed by the fun-loving year-round residents and entertained by their quirky sense of humor, including the Beach Chair Drill Team and Kazoo Band. You will enjoy seeing the many fine marching bands that come to Nags Head to share their music.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade steps off in the early afternoon and continues for 3 hours. The parade covers a one-mile route, giving plenty of room for onlookers to line the streets.

Organizers estimate that between 1,500 and 1,800 people are in the parade. Nearly 10,000 people line the streets to enjoy the festivities. It has been estimated that half of the local year-round population participates in or watches the parade. This is a huge draw for visitors and locals alike, and one of the biggest Outer Banks events in March.

Outer Banks Vacation Rentals

More and more visitors from out of town come to enjoy the parade as part of their spring break. These visitors find excellent places to stay in our Outer Banks vacation rentals. Rentals are located both in quiet neighborhoods and right on the beach. Many rentals are ready for the cooler months.

Local Restaurants

Before or after the parade, fuel up with a visit to one of our amazing local restaurants. The local cuisine is focused on fresh seafood, but all kinds of delicious food can be found on the Outer Banks. As the years go by, more and more local restaurants are open in the offseason for your dining enjoyment. Be sure to check the restaurant’s website or call before you go.

The Outer Banks are ready to welcome you at any time of year. Whether you come for the week or just for the parade, you may be looking for fun local activities for families to round out your stay. No matter what you choose to do before and after the parade, you’re guaranteed to have a great time. Stay in one of our beautiful Outer Banks vacation rentals and enjoy your visit.


Cola Vaughan Realty
PO Box 1375 • Nags Head, NC 27959
Phone: 252.573.2811
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