Top O’ The Mitten: Saint Patrick’s Day in Michigan

It’s that magical time of year again; everyone’s Irish, the world is your friend, rivers run green, and beer, in infinite variety, is within reach. That’s right: Saint Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. If you want to celebrate in style, there’s no better place than Michigan. From all-ages to adults only, there’s an event for everyone. Let’s kick things off in my backyard.

The Awesome Mitten-Top O' The Mitten: Saint Patrick's Day in Michigan
Photo courtesy of Katy Batdorff

Irish on IoniaIonia Street, from Oakes to Weston, Grand Rapids
Saturday, March 16, 7a.m. – 10p.m.
Tickets $10VIP $55

Brought to you by McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon, Irish on Ionia is an open-air festival in downtown Grand Rapids. You’ll have to leave the kids at home for this one, but the 21+ crowd is guaranteed a great time. The day kicks off at 7 in the morning with McFadden’s “Kegs and Eggs” breakfast buffet. If you show up late, never fear: the pinnacle of Grand Rapids street cuisine, Stoner Tacos, will be there to satisfy any hunger. You won’t be able to swing a cat without hitting something good to drink, either. Green beer will be going for $3 a cup, while Guinness and craft beers will run you $5. For just ten bucks you can buy a commemorative Irish on Ionia cup that you can fill for the same price as the other, smaller drinks.

But there’s more to Irish on Ionia than food and drink. A local Irish folk group with a punk rock flair, The Waxies, will be there to play some traditional tunes. If they’re not your thing, stick around for The Crane Wives. I’ve gone on about them before, and I’m sure I will again, but they’re worth the price of admission on their own. You can also catch the Shamrock, Paper, Scissors tournament or the live circus performers. With all that going on, it’s no wonder the party goes all day.

Detroit Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Michigan Avenue, from Sixth to Fourteenth streets, Detroit
Sunday, March 10, 2:00pm

This parade is one of the biggest celebrations in town. In 2012, over 65,000 people showed up to watch or march in the parade. Appropriately, the event takes place in Corktown, a part of Detroit that filled up with Irish immigrants in the 19th century. 2013 marks the 55th year of celebration, sponsored by the United Irish Societies. If a parade seems a little slow to you, show up a couple hours early for the annual Corktown Race at noon. This 5K run is brought to us by the Downtown Runners and Walkers and includes a quarter mile run for the kids at 11:30am.

The Awesome Mitten-Top O' The Mitten: Saint Patrick's Day in Michigan
Photo courtesy of Katy Batdorff

Grand Ledge Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration
Downtown Grand Ledge
Friday and Saturday, March 15 and 16, various times
Event dependent

There’s plenty to do in Grand Ledge this year; so much, in fact, that they’ve split events between two days. On Friday evening at 6:00pm, the Glen Erin Bagpipe Band will be putting on their Saint Patrick’s Day concert at the Grand Ledge Opera House. The show wraps up around 11a.m., and it’s important to run home and get some sleep because it picks right back up in the morning. There’s an Irish stew contest at the Cole-Briggs American Legion Post, where the public is welcome to come in and vote for their favorite. While you’re digesting, you can take in the parade at 2p.m., then head back to the Opera House for the Goderich Drum and Bagpipe Band and some traditional Irish dance.

The 59th Annual Bay City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
The corner of Center and Park Avenues, Bay City
Sunday, March 17, 2p.m.

Bay City kicked off this tradition with a bang in 1955. Over ten thousand people came together to watch marching bands, floats, and the St. Patrick’s Day Queen make their way to city hall. Each year the Queen is chosen from a list of young Irish ladies, selected based on personal interviews and a Miss America-style pageant. The winner,  besides getting to ride on the biggest and baddest float in town, receives a tidy scholarship. Join Parade Marshall Kelly Reed and carry on this awesome tradition.

The Awesome Mitten-Top O' The Mitten: Saint Patrick's Day in Michigan
Photo courtesy of Katy Batdorff

Saint Patrick’s at The Curragh
73 E. 8th Street, Holland
Saturday and Sunday, March 16 and 17, 9a.m.
No price listed

Let’s wrap things up back on the west side of the state. The Curragh is an Irish pub in Holland, and they’re bringing you all the music you could want and more. This is another one of those 21+ events, but it’s a great chance to sit in a classic pub setting, drink your fill, and listen to some great Irish folk tunes. Bands include Peat in the Creel, AnDro, Millish, and a few more great choices. For the full list, just click the link at the head of this section. Breakfast starts at 9 each day, with music starting at 11:30a.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.

By no means is this a comprehensive list of every event out there. Any pub or bar worth the name will be having some kind of specials, music, party, or what have you. There’s no better day to wander into a bar and make a friend than Saint Patrick’s Day!

A special “Thank You” to Katy Batdorff, the woman behind the pictures. If you want to see more of her amazing work, check out her website.

Brian Murray – Feature Writer

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