Believe it not, green beer is not the pinnacle of Irish culture. Though it's almost essential to getting extra "festive" on St. Patrick's Day, if you're tired of the typical barroom celebration the weekend of March 17, The Abbey Pub (3420 W. Grace St.) offers a musically-focused celebration that pays tribute to true Irish culture. That's not surprising, considering the Abbey's owners were born and raised in Ireland. 

The St. Paddy's celebration at the Abbey is a three-day string of concerts, dancing, Irish sausage and Guinness. 

The Drovers are Back!

This year brings a special reunion to the Abbey's stage. Popular '90s Irish rock band The Drovers are getting back together for one night only. Together the female-fronted group put out four Celtic albums together and produced soundtrack music for movies like Backdraft and Blink. Their comeback show at the Abbey on Friday, March 15, sold out so quickly the pub has added a second, earlier show. Tickets are still available for this show --starting at 6 p.m. -- for $15.

The Abbey Trolley Ride

Saturday, March 16, you can hop aboard The Abbey's trolley and ride through the downtown parade. If that sounds like a little too much journeying for you though, there is an entire day of Celtic music lined up including the O'Hare School of Irish Dance, Fitz & the Celts, Kevin Flynn & the Avondale Ramblers, the Great Whiskey Project, Shannan Rovers Bagpipers and Red Rebel County. The first act goes on at 2 p.m. If you wish to take part in the Abbey's Saturday festivities, it's just a $10 cover. Try spending that little money on Division Street during St. Patrick's weekend.

A Traditional Celebration

Sunday is the final day of the St. Patrick's Day celebration. When I spoke to the Abbey's general manager (and son of the owners) Pat Looney, he said he expects a more "laid back and traditional" atmosphere in the Abbey on the 17th, compared to the "party atmosphere" that Saturday typically brings. 

Irish music will begin at 1 p.m. -- with an Irish jam session and step dancing -- and many of Saturday's acts will make an encore performance. The night will culminate with a performance from Chicago Irishman Larry Nugent. A frequent performer at the Abbey when he's not playing an annual residency in Las Vegas, the Irish flute and tin whistle player will be bringing his band Cul An Ti to Chicago to close out the St. Paddy's festivities. Tickets are $10 for Sunday.

It's a lot to squeeze in weekend but, remember, you don't have to do the whole three days! If you need a break from the downtown partying or are just in the mood for a different kind of Irish celebration, head north to the Abbey. 

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