With more area festivals than you can shake a shillelagh at, here’s a look at what you can expect at each, whether you’re trying to get Shamrock’d or just have a little fun out with the family.
Richmonders love a good festival. And from early spring to late fall, there’s truly no shortage of them–at least one just about every weekend, in fact. We’re also a town that isn’t shy about our collective weekend drinking habits–as evident by taking a casual stroll down Main Street past all the bars in the Fan any given Sunday morning.
What happens when you put these two things together–an outdoor festival and a holiday that’s pretty much synonymous with drinking? You get a full roster of events all over town, that’s what.
This weekend, there are more St. Patrick’s Day-themed festivals than you can shake a shillelagh at. Whether you’re looking for a casual family-friendly event with things to keep the kids busy or looking to get down with the masses for an all out street party, there’s pretty much something for every crowd. Let’s take a gander, shall we?
I’m here to party, man!
Alright, cool. You’re in luck, because you have several street festivals to choose from, with food, fun, and frothy beer-a-plenty. But what level do you want to take this thing to? Honestly, the two street festivals compete with one another (we’ll get to that in a second), but neither one had a shortage of attendance last year.
Shamrock The Block
This year will mark Shamrock The Block’s second year on the Boulevard. The event, put on by local event promoter Three One One Productions, moved to the Scott’s Addition area in 2014 from Shockoe Bottom, where it had been hosted for years.
Last year, over 20,000 people descended upon the Boulevard to enjoy craft beer, live music, food vendors, and general camaraderie. This one’s definitely a party, and the volume has been cranked up just a bit this year with the addition of additional beer lines and extra volunteers, which should alleviate some of the long lines attendees experienced last year.
All that said, Shamrock The Block also features a kids’ area with face painting, inflatables, and games to keep all your little leprechans entertained. Last year, the crowd was pretty tame and relatively family friendly, so don’t hesitate to bring them along.
Live music this year includes Dirty Bangs, These Wild Plains, Jackson Ward, and The Kairos Effect.
The festival’s last year in Shockoe Bottom was 2013. During the event that year, some over-served partygoers started a street brawl that went viral on YouTube. It may not necessarily be the reason the event was moved the following year, and it’s important to note that only five citations were issued during the entire festival (which is somewhat impressive considering how many thousands of people attended the event). You handle your booze pretty well, Richmond.
Shamrock the block kicks off Saturday, March 14th and runs from 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM on the Boulevard, from West Broad Street to Leigh Street. Leashed pets are welcome, and the party’s on rain or shine. Free street parking and parking lots surround the event area. Get more info here.
STREET CLOSURE MAP:
Following Shamrock The Block’s move up the hill to the Boulevard, a group of folks with a vested interest in Shockoe Bottom–mainly local restaurant and business owners–banded together last year to create Shockoe Fest.
With beefed up security, a focus on being more family friendly, and other changes, Shockoe Fest saw much success its inaugural year.
With far more bars and restaurants, and the general party atmosphere Shockoe Bottom is known for (if we’re honest with ourselves), this one’s probably still the place to go if you’re looking to really get “turnt up.”
This year, organizers promise an even bigger and better party, taking over both 17th and 18th Streets in near the 17th Street Farmers Market.
The event features lots of food vendors, two stages with live music and dancing, craft beer trucks, and even an Irish coffee tent.
Live music and dance on the 18th Street stage will include Pipes & Drums by The Metro Richmond Police Emerald Society, Bucket, Southern Academy of Irish Dance, Jimmy Catlett Group, Roper & Furley, and RPG.
At the smaller stage on 17th Street, you can catch performances from, Patchwork, The Sutor Brothers, Hearts of Ireland, and Ceili Dancing by Southern Academy of Irish Dance.
The event also includes a kids play area with activities to keep the little ones happy.
Shockoe Fest gets going Saturday, March 14th at 11:00 AM and runs through 5:00 PM on 17th and 17th Streets in Shockoe Bottom. It’s rain or shine, free street and paid lot parking is available nearby, and free transportation is available via The Hop, a local bus-based shuttle service. Learn more here.
STREET CLOSURE MAP:
Let’s keep things pg, okay?
OK, I get it. Both of the street festivals have a kids area and activities galore, but maybe you’re in a different place in life than me and not into the sea of people, amount of drinking, or heck, you live in the suburbs and don’t want to venture into the city. That’s all fine and dandy, and there’s something for y’all!
St. Paddy’s Palooza
St. Paddy’s Palooza has become a tradition in the West End and takes place at the Innsbrook Pavilion in Glen Allen. While more than 10,000 people came out last year, the vibe is a bit different and very family friendly.
The event will feature live music, bands, food, ice cream, Irish dancers, pony rides and a hot air balloon–something for every member of the family, really (we know you want to take a pony ride too, Dad).
Other activities for your wee lads and lasses include face painting, several photo booths, a petting zoo, inflatables such as a moonwalk and other things to bounce around in, and even airbrush tattoos.
Up on the main stage, acts such as the Cary Street Ramblers, Flat Elvis, members of Honky Tonk Heroes, Thistle and Shamrock Irish dancing, and Crossroads Irish Dance Troupe will entertain festival goers.
Food vendors from the Innsbrook area including The Grapevine, Sticks, Gregory’s Grill, Joey’s Hot Dogs, and The Paris Creperie will be dishing up the goods all day.
Perhaps the coolest thing about St. Paddy’s Palooza, though, is its benefactor. The entire event benefits the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which exists to support the fight against childhood cancer. You can sign up to have your head shaved, on stage, to raise money for the foundation, if you’re so brave.
St. Paddy’s Palooza is taking place Sunday, March 15th (moved from Saturday due to the threat of inclement weather) from 11:00 AM – 5:oo PM at the Innsbrook Pavilion, located at 4901 Lake Brook Drive, off Nuckols Road in the Innsbrook Corporate Center. Get more info here.
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Whatever your style, whether you’re out to get a wee bit Shamrock’d or just enjoy some Irish fun out with the family, you’re in luck–one of these fun outdoor events is sure to fit the bill.