London Mayor Sadiq Khan rolls St Patrick’s Festival out over ‘all 33 Boroughs’
• Biggest St Patrick’s Festival ever held in London with events in 33 boroughs over three days
• Festival will focus on the achievements and success of London’s Irish women as part of Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign
• Performers on main stage will join forces for a special tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed plans for this year’s London’s St Patrick’s Day Festival, which is set to be the biggest yet with festivities planned in all of London’s 33 boroughs over three days. As part of the Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, this year’s festival will celebrate the achievements and success of London’s Irish women.
Sadiq Khan has pledged to make the festivities the most impressive showcase of Irish culture, heritage, food and talent the city has ever seen, bringing together Londoners from all communities and visitors to the capital for a celebration of the contribution Irish people have made to the city for centuries.
From open air Irish dance performances in Enfield and jazz in Hackney to music classes in Croydon and children’s art and crafts workshops in Haringey, Irish culture will pop up across the capital, all inspired by the Emerald Isle and energised by London’s large Irish community.
There will be specially-commissioned walking tours, providing a history of Irish London, and focusing on the lives of Irish women in the capital including Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to Parliament. A line up of breakthrough Irish women artists will be entertaining the crowds with live open air gigs and intimate performances in locations throughout Camden Market on St Patrick’s Day itself (Saturday 17 March).
Cinemas around the West End will stage the latest Irish short films, and the UK Premieres of Damo & Ivor, Kíla: Pota Óir and An Béal Bocht.
Female Irish artists will also be showcased through the festival as works from one of Ireland’s most acclaimed artists Pauline Bewick will be exhibited at City Hall from 1-21 March, presenting her journeys across Ireland, Wales, England, Tuscany, China and the South Pacific.
The #IamIrish exhibition will also be on display, presenting the work of Lorraine Maher. Inspired by a persistent lack of representation of the Black Irish experience, Lorraine Maher launched the project #IamIrish to question the concept of ‘Irishness’ and what an authentic Irish identity means for Irish communities today.
To top it all off, there will be well-known Irish names reciting their favourite poetry on the Tube and Irish musicians busking on the Underground.
The festival will culminate on Sunday with the world-renowned parade and stage line-up. The colourful procession of Irish marching bands, energetic dance troupes, including some from the US, and spectacular pageantry will begin at Green Park, passing some of the capital’s most iconic locations from Piccadilly to Whitehall.
Trafalgar Square will host the focal point of the festival on Sunday with a world-class line-up of Irish culture and community on the main stage. Holding the show together will be one of Ireland’s leading TV and radio presenters Eoghan McDermott from RTÉ 2FM, and the house band of RTÉ’s Late Late Show. The packed schedule will include performances from some of London’s eminent female Irish performers and special guests, to be announced in due course.
There will also be a medley performance in tribute to Dolores O’Riordan, the Cranberries front-woman who tragically passed away in London earlier this year. The tribute will be led by Lisa Lambe, Orla Gartland and many more.
The stage line-up will be topped off with an electrifying traditional music performance from KÍLA, followed by the Big St. Patrick’s Céilí getting everyone on their feet for some jigs and reels.
As well as a special family zone with games, arts and crafts, there will be walkabout performances based on mythical stories from Ireland including characters like Pirate Queen Gráinne Mhaol and the giant Fionn MacChuaill. There will also be the best of Irish fare with fresh produce and traditional dishes on offer at the Irish Street Food Market.
London’s Irish community will be central to the celebrations with the Irish Cultural Centre, the London Irish LGBT+ Network, London Irish rugby, Irish Film London and the GAA hosting stalls at Trafalgar Square.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I was so proud to join Londoners from all backgrounds at the biggest St Patrick’s Festival the city has ever seen last year and am delighted that this year’s festivities will be even bigger, with celebrations in every single London borough. For centuries, the Irish community has enriched our city, and contributed hugely to its success. The community is open, resilient and lively – all traits that reflect the best of London.
“This year we will also celebrate the achievements of Irish women in London and I’m pleased to see such a rich cultural line up over the course of the weekend. A very Happy St Patrick’s Day to everyone celebrating here, in Ireland and around the world. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!”.
Gary Dunne, Creative Programmer of London’s St Patrick’s Cultural Festival, said: “This year’s Festival, the biggest yet, expresses a diverse, inclusive and confident sense of Irish culture and community. Whichever part of this great city you’re in, you will find opportunities to get involved. Join hundreds of dancers, singers, poets and artists as they electrify London with vibrant Irish culture. We are also excited to engage with the #BehindEvery- GreatCity campaign, which allows us even more opportunity to celebrate the boundless creative talent of Irish women. London is home to the biggest Irish population outside of Ireland, and this is when we gather to celebrate!”
Julie Wakley, Tourism Ireland Head in Britain said: “Tourism Ireland is proud to support the St Patrick’s Festival in London and celebrate Ireland’s warm and close relationship with our nearest neighbour. Last year Ireland 4.7 million Britons visited the island of Ireland and this celebration is just a taster of our warm welcome and hospitality.”
• PARADE From 12 noon at Hyde Park Corner, via Piccadilly, Haymarket, and Trafalgar Square, to Whitehall