Guide to Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival
On March 23, 2024, Jackson's Biggest Party returns to the streets for fun, live music, food, parading, and most importantly, a celebration of community and homecoming.
With a full day of events, the 41st annual Hal's St. Paddy's Parade and Festival has something for everyone (even the four-legged kind).
In the early 1980s, Malcolm White and a group of friends obtained a permit from the city to stroll straight up Capitol Street dressed like characters from the plays of Tennessee Williams. Determined to expand on the good time and give Jackson an annual event to call its own, Malcolm and his late brother, Hal White, grew the parade and festival to encompass the best of Mardis Gras and Rites of Spring celebrations with a unique Mississippi twist. Named in honor of Hal, Hal's St. Paddy's Parade & Festival continues to draw thousands of locals and home-comers to downtown Jackson each year for a "rambling, outrageous, hilarious ride, starting and ending at Jackson’s favorite gathering place — Hal & Mal’s." The parade and festival also help to generate annual funds and honor the work of Children's of Mississippi, the state’s only children’s hospital committed to providing state-of-the-art care to any child in need.
For many years, the parade occurred on the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day, though White has always loosely based the parade around the holiday, opting instead to call it a “rites of spring” combo of Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and a changing of the seasons.
In recent years, the parade has moved to the fourth Saturday of March. But why?
“Jill (Conner Browne – THE Sweet Potato Queen ®) rejoined us about four years ago,” White explained. “She had splintered off and was doing her own event, the Zippity Doo Dah parade, and then came back and reunited with us and we’re delighted to have her back.
We moved to the fourth Saturday because that was the Saturday that Jill had [for Zippity Doo Dah]. But when she came back, the queens came back, we took the fourth [Saturday] and we have moved on from there.”
And it’s tough to get marching bands when everybody's out for spring break, right?
“Correct. And a lot of families are obligated to do things other than being Jackson during spring break. I have long been criticized for being on spring break. And so now there's nothing anyone can say regarding scheduling.”
The 41st Annual Hal's St. Paddy's Parade
Hal's St Paddy's Parade begins on the corner of State Street and Court Street. Expect to see hundreds of celebrants making up festive krewes, floats, street dancing troupes, marching bands, and more. The internationally-known Sweet Potato Queens will also make their yearly appearance with “Boss Queen” Jill Conner Browne leading the charge. Make sure to keep your head on a swivel to catch beads, roses, and other swag being thrown into the crowd!
The Official Afterparty
Keep the fun going post-parade at Hal & Mal's Official Afterparty (21+), where bands and booze are on rotation throughout the evening. Gates open at 1:00 pm, and music begins at 3:00 pm.
Love the parade and want to see it continue for many years to come?
You can support the parade’s efforts 24/7, 365 through the Hal’s St. Paddy’s Parade Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi. Donations are tax-deductible.