We look at the line-up for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in London, featuring some of the finest talents from Ireland and the UK Irish community
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP has announced details of this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival on Sunday 13 March, including top Irish talent in Trafalgar Square and on the Tube network, a special movie premiere, a street food market with fine Irish fare and a huge Céilí in the heart of the capital.
Launching the celebrations will be London’s world-renowned parade, a colourful procession of Irish marching bands, energetic dance troupes and spectacular pageantry beginning at Green Park, passing some of the capital’s most iconic locations from Piccadilly to Whitehall.
With its iconic seventeen foot high puppet named Crom, the internationally acclaimed performance and spectacle company Macnas, from the west coast of Ireland, will be a highlight of the parade. More than 70 community groups are also taking part and the public are being urged to line the streets and cheer them on from midday.
Trafalgar Square will be turning green, with performers from across the capital’s diverse Irish communities, aging from eight to 88. Among the acts will be ‘The Wagon Wheel’ singer Nathan Carter, one of the biggest stars of Irish and Country music.
The London Lasses will bring a ‘trad’ session to the Square, as well as popular London-based band The Craicheads who will delight the crowd with a collection of original tracks and Irish crowd-pleasers. Thousands of spectators will also have the chance to partake in the Big St. Patrick’s Céilí with Céili Max.
Holding it all together will be UK-based Irish comedian, Jarlath Regan and the house band of RTÉ’s Late Late Show.
The festivities will be accompanied by the finest flavours of the Emerald Isle with a special street food market in Trafalgar Square. Bord Bia and acclaimed chef John Relihan, a Kerryman who works in London, will be whetting the appetite of the crowd with an exclusive cookery demo.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: ‘It’s a pleasure to once again be supporting one of the biggest and best St Patrick’s Day celebrations anywhere in the world. Our free event in the heart of the capital is a terrific opportunity for Londoners and visitors to embrace the traditions of Ireland, to mark the huge contribution several generations of Irish people have made to our city and to have ‘the craic’! Wishing everyone a terrific St Patrick’s Day. Lá Fhéile Pádraig shona daoibh!’
A St Patrick’s Day film festival will take place at the Regent Street Cinema with two free shorts programmes from 11.30am-2.30pm on Sunday 13 March. The new film Sing Street from John Carney, best known for his Academy Award-winning 2007 movie Once, will then premiere at the festival at 7.30pm. The event is also a unique chance to see a wide range of short films focused on Irish life and culture. Tickets can be booked at www.regentstreetcinema.com.
Below ground, Transport for London (TfL) and the Irish Embassy are bringing Irish music and poems to the London Underground to coincide with the St. Patrick’s Day festivities in the capital. Several Tube stations will have performers showcasing Irish music, dance, poetry and the country’s rich cultural heritage, while celebrating links with London. A special exhibition at Moorgate station will celebrate the contributions of Irish workers to the development of the Underground and London’s rail networks.
This year marks the 100th anniversary since the 1916 Easter Rising. To mark this momentous occasion in Irish history, there will be a commemorative reading on the main stage by Irish ambassador to the UK, Daniel Mulhall. To bring the festival to a close at 6pm, Nelson’s Column and the Trafalgar Square fountain will join other landmarks around the world and be lit green for St Patrick’s Day.
As part of the celebrations, City Hall will be teaming up with the Irish Cultural Centre to host a public Q&A session on ‘Modern Ireland’s Changing Faces’ with former President of Ireland Mary McAleese and interviewer Fergal Keane on Thursday 10 March at 7.30pm. Free tickets can be booked on Eventbrite here: www.eventbrite.co.uk
David Boyce, Deputy Director of Tourism Ireland GB, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to support the St Patrick’s Festival in London. People everywhere demonstrate a strong affinity with St Patrick’s Day, with events taking place in cities across Great Britain to celebrate Ireland’s warm and close relationship with our nearest neighbour.”
Michelle Butler, Manager at Bord Bia UK and Ireland, said: “Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board are proud to support this wonderful St Patrick’s Day celebration in Trafalgar Square. St Patrick’s Day was traditionally known as the day of feasting, and so it is only fitting that we would give festival goers the opportunity to ‘feast’ on some of the finest food Ireland has to offer.”
The Mayor of London’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations are being organised in partnership with the support of Bord Bia, Tourism Ireland, JB Riney and Modebest.