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Myrtle Beach Highland Games Caps Fortnight of St. Patrick’s Day Fun

You don't have to visit Myrtle Beach on St. Patrick's Day to get into the Irish spirit of the season. In fact, two of the Grand Strand's biggest St. Paddy's Day parties take place the week before and the week after the official March 17 holiday, and the Caribbean Resort & Villas puts you right in the middle of the fun.

The 29th Annual North Myrtle Beach St. Patrick's Day Parade & Festival takes place Saturday, March 11, in the Ocean Boulevard section of North Myrtle Beach. More than 30,000 revelers line the Main Street and Ocean Boulevard parade route to see the Irish-themed floats, marching bands, bagpipe corps and convertible hot rods cruise The Strip, wave and toss out trinkets.

While an old tradition is held as a kickoff event to St. Patrick's Day festivities in the area, a relatively new event caps the fortnight of celebrations with the Second Annual Myrtle Beach Highland Games & Heritage Festival on Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25. Highlighting various aspects of Gaelic culture, this event drew big crowds in its inaugural appearance on the Grand Strand, and the word has gotten out that there's much more to do than watch big guys throw around bigger objects.

Held at The Market Common's Grand Park, the Myrtle Beach Highland Games & Heritage Festival revolves around ancient competitions like the caber toss (throwing a telephone-pole sized "caber" end over end) and the Braemar stone throw (hurling a 20-pound rock for distance). Kilt-clad athletes show off their brute strength and literally throw their weight around in a series of competitions to determine an overall winner. But the festival features a lot more fun than games.

Pipe and drum bands provide music that sets the mood for the Irish and Scottish celebration, and vendors in the Celtic Market representing ancient clans have displays where patrons can learn more about their Celtic heritage. Other events include an exhibition of border collies performing stunts and exhibiting their signature herding instincts, as well as a whisky tasting that allows patrons to sample some of Ireland and Scotland's chief single-malt exports.

The Kids Glen play section gives the little ones a chance to take part in the action, including safer versions of the grown-ups' games and other activities like archery and dueling. Team-oriented events like tug-of-war and the three-legged race offer laughs for the participants and the spectators. Designed for ages 6-12, the Kids Glen offers prizes for those who complete their passport showing they took part in all the events. For kids under 6, there is a scavenger hunt, arts and crafts projects, and face painting.

The event kicks off with the Ceilidh Welcome Party from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, including a free concert and authentic Irish food and drinks for sale. The main event is held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday with a full day of all the games and festivities. Pre-purchased tickets to Saturday's event are $13 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12 and free for ages 5 and under. Seniors and military members receive a $5 discount. For a full schedule of events or to purchase discounted tickets online, visit www.myrtlebeachhighlandgames.com.

Guests at the Caribbean Resort & Villas can enjoy a full two weeks of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. From the big festivals to the many bars and restaurants that will be serving the customary green beer with corned beef and cabbage, you and your crew go green while staying steps away from the blue Atlantic Ocean at the Caribbean Resort.