Temps in the 20s, snow flurries and stiff breezes didn’t thwart thousands of attendees from packing the return of downtown’s Irish on Ionia, which also boasted chilly, jig-inciting sets by Celtic bands and DJs.
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The outdoor atmosphere resembled a winter blizzard more than a spring-like afternoon, but the 20-degree weather, snow flurries and stiff breezes didn’t thwart thousands of revelers from dancing, drinking and otherwise celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday at Irish on Ionia.
Staged for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID pandemic, the state’s biggest St. Paddy’s street party didn’t miss a beat — so to speak — with throngs of green-clad festivalgoers flooding Ionia Avenue SW south of Fulton Street in downtown Grand Rapids and Celtic bands joining DJs for an upbeat, and occasionally raucous, holiday gathering.
Many celebrants didn’t even seem to mind the bone-chilling conditions, with some even defying Mother Nature in T-shirts, shorts and other sorts of non-winter garb.
“Thanks for braving the cold,” violinist and mandolinist Anna Dorsey of the Celtic folk band Ironwood told the gleeful crowd from the Main Stage in late afternoon. “It’s going to take a little more than this to keep us home. We’re tough cookies.”
Indeed. Hosted by HopCat, the celebration featuring 10 DJs, four bands and an Irish dance troupe carried on for 12 hours or so, from late morning till late evening, and the massive Irish Jig Tent was packed in elbow-to-elbow fashion for much of that stretch.
Some told Local Spins they endured the frigid temps for the festive vibe and the people-watching more so than the music, while others made it clear their main objective was simply to party hearty — kicking up their heels for Irish jigs as snow continued to fall.
The downtown mania continued into the evening at other venues as well, with long lines at GLC Live at 20 Monroe for the sold-out J.I.D & Smino “Luv Is 4ever Tour” featuring the Southern rappers, the sold-out Charles Wesley Godwin show at Elevation inside The Intersection, Earth Radio’s album-release concert at The Pyramid Scheme and assorted revelry at Flanagan’s Irish Pub, Back Forty and elsewhere.
In Kalamazoo, Old Dog Tavern celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday with a performance by Belfast Gin, with a photo gallery below.
PHOTO GALLERY: Irish on Ionia in downtown Grand Rapids
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
PHOTO GALLERY: Belfast Gin at Old Dog Tavern in Kalamazoo
Photos by Derek Ketchum