This is to be the face of St. Patrick's Day in London in 2013. The traditional Trafalgar Square concert – with its large central stage – is no more.
A series of tents and displays are to take its place while a large inflatable dragon is to be the emblem or mascot.
The decision was made by the small group of Irish people and Irish organisations who comprise the Mayor's St. Patrick's Day advisory committe.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has called on Irish organisations who wish to take part in the capital's St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday March 17 to get in touch with City Hall before February 12.
His call came as some of greater London's smaller, more traditional St. Patrick's Day celebrations – in Brent and Crawley – face financial uncertainty and, in the case of Crawley, cancellation. Manchester, on the other hand, is promising its ten day event will be the biggest outside Ireland.
Announcing details of the London parade Mayor Boris Johnson said the celebrations, which will feature a colourful parade from Piccadilly to Whitehall aand festival in Trafalgar Square, will be more diverse than in preceding years.
Mr. Johnson said: “I am delighted to once again be supporting London's St Patrick's Day Festival and Parade. Amongst the biggest outside Ireland they are a fantastic celebration for Londoners and visitors alike, as well as being a tribute to the contribution that generations of Irish people have made to life in the capital.
“Not only have the Irish enriched our culture with the craic, it is a community that has brought intelligence and imagination to our professions and created wealth and employment, which are vital assets for our city's prosperity.”
Gone this year is the big concert stage and sound system usually placed in Trafalgar Square.
The scaled-down celebrations will include different activities and attractions around Trafalgar Square showcasing Irish culture and creativity.
Organisers promise “a lively mix of traditional and contemporary music and bands” including the house band from RTE One's The Late, Late Show.
There will be a comedy tent hosted by the London Irish Comedy Festival, which was founded last year by producer Maria Schweppe in partnership with the London Irish Centre.
An Irish film tent will offer movie enthusiasts the chance to see film shorts by Irish filmmakers.
A special food market, organised in conjunction with sponsor Bord Bia, will be an opportunity to sample Irish food products.
There will also be a "showcase" of Irish sports, Irish dancing and child-centred storytelling, puppets and arts and crafts
The parade will set off from the top of Piccadilly by Green Park at around midday, with floats, musicians and community organisations taking part.
It will be led, say the organisers, by a giant inflatable dragon, The Puca, created by Bui Bolg, "a team of visual artists and engineers, performers and designers led by artistic director Colm Lowney" and "designed and created by artist Keith Payne, who created inflatables for Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones and Tina Turner"
The green, blue and red blow-up Puca is 36 metres long and 8 metres high.
The mayor's St. Patrick's Day advisors are: The Council of Irish Counties; The Federation of Irish Societies; the Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith; the London Irish Centre; the Irish Embassy; St Mary's University's Irish Studies department; Irish International Business Network; London Irish Business Society; and the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.
They said, of the scaled down event, in a statement: “The Festival will celebrate both the deep roots of Irish communities in London and also the present-day energy and vibrancy of Irishness in London and beyond. There will be an emphasis on the best of Irish-London creativity and culture.”
There is still time to sign up to be a part of the parade. Organisations and groups wanting to take part have until 12 February and can find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or going to the website www.london.gov.uk/stpatricks.
Meanwhile the organisers of the Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade are calling on local businesses to get behind this year’s event or risk losing it for ever.
The 17-year old parade – which traditionally takes place on March 17 – in the north west London borough is under threat in the north London Borough as Brent Council has been forced to cut spending on all festivals and cultural events. because of government cut backs.
The organisers say they need £20,000 to cover the running costs, public liability insurance and to pay performers at this year’s parade.
Organiser Tony Antoniou said: “We will try to keep it going. It is great for everyone in the area. We are working hard to raise the money. We don’t want to loose this. We bring a lot of people in to the area.”
Last year’s parade, that was headlined by members of Paralympics Team Ireland, was the last one to be supported by the local council.
Brent St Patrick's Parade committee has links with several local and national cultural and business organisations. These include: GAA clubs, Newman College Harlesden, Irish Paralympic Team, The London Irish Construction Network, Tourism Ireland, Brent Irish Advisory Services, Cricklewood Homeless Concern, Innisfree Housing, St Luke's Hospice Kenton & Harrow.
If you'd like to become involved please contact Michael Kearney at BIAS on 020 8459 6655 or email: email@example.com
Meanwhile the Crawley St Patrick’s Day parade has been cancelled – for the first time in ten years – and the town's Celtic and Irish Society will be organising an excursion to the central London parade. The organisers had been unable to provide marshals and stewards.