St Patrick's Day: Thousands expected at Northern Ireland festivals

(Organisers of the Belfast parade will be hoping for better weather than marchers experienced last year)

On Friday, St Patrick's Day will be celebrated in many parts of the world, including towns and cities across Northern Ireland, with parades and other festive events.


The city of Belfast is holding a 10-day festival from March 10-19 to celebrate St Patrick's Day. The festival includes concerts, traditional music sessions, dances, workshops, tours, and the annual parade through the city. On St Patrick's Eve, there is a concert at Custom House Square headlined by Dublin singer-songwriter Lisa Hannigan. All tickets have been allocated.

For those who are physically fit, the St Patrick's Day festivities kick off with a 6.2 mile (10km) race from Belfast City Hall to Ormeau Park at 09:00 GMT. The main parade starts at City Hall at 13:30 GMT, and the route goes along Chichester Street, Victoria Street, High Street, Castle Place, and Donegall Place, before returning to the starting point. The theme for this year's event is "Voices of Belfast" and celebrates the city's music heritage from pop to punk and traditional to disco. The arts organization Beat Carnival is staging the parade and intends to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement by inviting people born around the time of the deal to walk in the parade and share their visions and hopes for the future of the city.

Belfast City Council is hosting various events, including "St Patrick's Tales of Our City," a sound installation through which Belfast residents share their personal stories of living in the city in the past and present. New participants are welcome to contribute tales. The former Tesco store at 2 Royal Avenue will also host events, including a sold-out Celtic Storm concert on Saturday featuring musicians and a former Riverdance lead dancer.


PACEMAKER/NOEL MOAN (Children from Saval Gaelic Athletic Association club took part in Newry's 2022 parade)

Derry City and Strabane Council expects "tens of thousands" of people to attend the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Londonderry on Friday. Traditional Irish musicians will perform at Guildhall Square starting at 13:00 GMT, and a drama performance of A Tale of Fairies will entertain children at the nearby Peace Garden.

The parade will start at Bishop Street at 15:00 GMT and will travel to the Diamond, Shipquay Street, along Queen's Quay, and will end at Strand Road car park. The North West Carnival Initiative will stage the parade with the theme of "recycle and renewal."

The mayor will also host a 24-hour charity buskathon on the steps of the Guildhall to support homelessness, starting at 18:00 GMT.


(St Patrick is reportedly buried on the Hill of Down and is commemorated at Down Cathedral)

On St Patrick's Day in Newry, there will be live music and street entertainers in Hill Street from noon onwards. Free craft workshops for children will also be available in Bagenal's Castle until 16:00 GMT, although pre-booking is recommended.

The parade, hosted by broadcaster Julian Simmons, will start at the Albert Basin at 13:00 GMT and will proceed along Buttercrane Quay, Merchants Quay, Sugar Island to Kildare Street beside the city hall.

For the day, McClelland Park off Edward Street will be transformed into Newry's Family Festival Village and will have family activities for various age groups.


PROJECT ST PATRICK (Fermanagh's wakeboarding leprechauns will return to Enniskillen to entertain St Patrick's Day revellers)

Every year, Downpatrick pays tribute to Ireland's patron saint, St. Patrick, who is believed to be buried there. This year is no exception, as the town prepares for the festivities. The celebrations start at noon in St. Patrick's Square with live music and various activities for children, such as face painting, balloon modelling, and arts and crafts.

The parade begins at Ardglass Road at 1:30 PM GMT and follows a route that includes Edward Street, John Street, Irish Street, and Market Street before concluding at Rathkeltair car park.

Down County Museum and Down Arts Centre are also hosting St. Patrick's Day-themed events starting at 11:00 AM GMT, featuring free arts and crafts workshops, live music, and dance performances.


(Thursday's vigil will start at Armagh's Protestant cathedral and end at the city's Catholic cathedral (above))

Enniskillen is offering a range of free activities for children at Broadmeadow from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM GMT, including bouncy castles, balloon modelling, and face painting.

The island town of County Fermanagh is also hosting water-based entertainment in Lough Erne, such as the popular wakeboarding leprechauns.

Starting at 1:30 PM, Highland and Irish dancers will perform on the Diamond, followed by live music.

The main parade commences at 3:30 PM GMT from the Lakeland Forum. This year's parade theme is "Back to the Future," featuring both vintage and futuristic vehicles, as well as a special appearance by the interactive dinosaur, "T-rex."


(Hikers make an annual pilgrimage to Slemish mountain every St Patrick's Day)

Armagh is known as the starting point of Patrick's Christian mission, and the city takes pride in its spiritual heritage. To commemorate St. Patrick's Day, the city is beginning its celebrations early.

On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, the leaders of the Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland will lead a torchlit vigil walk between their two cathedrals. The event is intended to symbolize St. Patrick's journey to unite people through Christianity and starts at 9:00 PM GMT at the Church of Ireland Cathedral.

A free concert featuring the Celtic trad rock band, More Power to Your Elbow, and flautist Rioghnach Connolly, will be held in the Shambles Yard at 5:30 PM GMT on Thursday.

Armagh's community parade will start at 2:30 PM GMT on Friday at the Christian Brothers' School. The parade will move towards Cathedral Road, passing by the Shambles Market, and culminating at the Cathedral Road Recreation Centre.

Slemish Mountain

(Revellers packed the streets of central Dublin on St Patrick' Day 2022)

Every year on March 17th, thousands of pilgrims climb the peak of Slemish mountain in County Antrim to pay tribute to St. Patrick, who is said to have worked as a shepherd on the mountain when he was a teenager enslaved in Ireland.

The climb to the summit and back is almost one mile (1.5 km) and takes about an hour in good weather, as advised by Mid and East Antrim Council. The council has also arranged live music and children's activities at the site. However, suitable footwear and waterproof clothing are recommended for those attempting the climb.


In the Republic of Ireland, it is anticipated that around half a million people will gather along the streets of the Irish capital, Dublin, for a parade starting at Parnell Square at noon on Friday.

The parade will proceed along O'Connell Street, cross over O'Connell Bridge, pass by Trinity College, move up Dame Street, past Christ Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral, and finish at Kevin Street.

Patrick Duffy, the Irish-American actor who played Bobby Ewing in Dallas, will be the guest of honour.

The Republic of Ireland women's national football team will lead the parade.


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