How to watch the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston

This year's parade takes place Sunday, March 18.

The crowd cheered along the route of the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
The crowd cheers along the route of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2016. –Ryan Breslin / Boston.com

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This year marks the 117th St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston. Over the course of more than a century, the event has courted tradition, controversy, and  a massive amount of spectators. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to go.

What time does the St. Patrick’s Day Parade kick off?

The parade begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 18.

How long is the parade?

The parade lasts about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Who’s marching this year?

There are 250 groups marching in this year’s parade, according to parade organizer Tim Duross. The parade will include 75 floats and 35 bands. The Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums and other local bands will perform, as well as musicians from Florida, California, Texas, Canada, and Ireland, Duross said. Firefighters, members of the military, veterans, roaming characters (think Star Wars and Ghostbusters), and members of the USA women’s hockey team who won gold at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang will also take to the streets.

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One group that will not be participating is anti-war group Veterans for Peace because parade organizers say the group, which has staged protests against the U.S. at other events, does not meet the parade’s code of conduct.

You can follow the parade on Twitter at @ParadeBoston.

How do I get there if I’m driving?

Duross said driving to the parade will be difficult on Sunday because the 2018 St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, which benefits the South Boston Boys & Girls Club, will take place on the parade route two hours before the parade. This means many streets close early, he said.

But if you still want to tackle the roads, the parade site directs drivers using GPS to type in either “350 West Broadway, South Boston,” for the main route along Broadway, or “95 G Street, South Boston,” to be closer to the Dorchester Heights National Historic Site, the central area of South Boston and the highest area in the neighborhood. The City of Boston posts traffic and parking advisories during the days leading up to the event, so it’s a good idea to follow @bostonpolice on Twitter.

Ride-hailing company Lyft, the parade’s exclusive rideshare partner, is offering discount rides to this year’s parade.

How do I get there if I’m taking the T?

This is the best way to travel to the parade, Duross said. According to the MBTA, parade-goers should board any Red Line train to South, Broadway, or Andrew Stations. However, commuters should be aware that Red Line trains may bypass Broadway when the station is unsuitable for drop-off due to heavy parade crowds. Shuttle bus service will be available to T riders from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday between the Summer Street side of South Station and Summer Street at East 1st Street in South Boston. You can follow the MBTA on Twitter @MBTA for updates or visit the MBTA website to sign up for and check T-Alerts.

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Keolis will operate commuter rail trains with extra seating for parade-goers on Sunday, according to the MBTA. You can follow the commuter rail at @MBTA_CR.

Where exactly does the route run?

The 3-mile-long parade has been shortened due to this week’s blizzard. The parade will still begin outside of the Broadway MBTA Station at 1 p.m. and follow West and East Broadway, but it will now finish at Farragut Road instead of at Old Colony Avenue.

What are the parade rules?

The Parade Code of Conduct includes no protesting, nudity, or foul language.

Here’s what the parade looked like in 2017:

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July 19, 2018 | 6:14 AM