PLAN AHEAD: What you need to know about Roanoke's St. Patrick's Day parade and festival

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) It's that time of the year again when the luck of the Irish is with all of us! The Freedom First St. Patrick's Day Parade is happening March 16 at 11 a.m. and the Shamrock Festival starts at 10 a.m.

Getting downtown early is the key to finding good parking and claiming your spot along the parade route.

The parade begins on Jefferson St. at Elm Ave., continues to Campbell Ave. and ends at Williamson Rd.

Starting at 10:30 a.m., the parade route will be closed to all traffic, including the parking garage at the Center of the Square. Street parking closes at 6 a.m. Saturday morning.

Organizers say this is one of our hometowns' biggest events of the year.

"Throughout the day we usually see about 15,000 people, weather depending," Scott Arbogast, events manager for Downtown Inc. said. "Fifteen-thousand people will come through downtown that day. It's a lot of fun. It's a really busy day for downtown which is great."

There will be 100 entries in the parade and it's expected to last about an hour and a half.

Then after the parade wraps up, stick around downtown for more family friendly festivities with the Freedom First Kids Zone.

"Kids activities are free," Arbogast said. "Inflatables, bounce houses, obstacle courses, games, so there's plenty of things for all age ranges so it's going to be a lot of families and its going to be a lot of fun for everyone that comes down."

Admission to the festival and the kids area is free.

"There will be adult beverages for sale, as well as vendors folks can visit," Arbogast said. "Craft vendors, information vendors, and some food vendors so there's going to be some good festival foods in the area as well."

WDBJ7's Brent Watts and Jean Jadhon will be hosting our live broadcast of the parade at 11 a.m. You can watch the show on WZBJ 24 and on the WDBJ7 Facebook page.