St Patrick's Day parade pictures and videos from Belfast, Dublin and Downpatrick to New York and London
Bright spring weather across much of Northern Ireland and the Republic should help this St Patrick’s Day to be the best in years with tourism bosses hopeful the annual celebration of all things could draw in hundreds of thousands of extra tourists this year.
The Duchess of Cambridge will present shamrocks to soldiers from the Irish Guards today to mark St Patrick's Day.
Kate will hand out the traditional sprigs to officers and guardsmen of the regiment at the century-old ceremony in Mons Barracks, Aldershot, Hampshire.
The Duke of Cambridge will also attend the traditional parade as Colonel of the Regiment.
Hundreds of servicemen and women, and their families, are expected at the ceremony, which was first inaugurated in 1901 by Queen Alexandra, the wife of the then king, Edward VII.
William and Kate will then meet members of the Regiment before sitting for photographs.
The Cambridges attended the ceremony last year, when Kate presented the sprigs of shamrock - a traditional symbol of Ireland - while wearing an emerald green coat.
In the past the presentation was carried out by the Queen Mother, but also by the Princess Royal and many others over the years, in many different countries.
Londonderry festivities live online to global audience
St Patrick’s Day festivities in Londonderry will be streamed live to a global audience from 2.30pm.
The live broadcast of the carnival parade will be live streamed here, and will feature video messages from city residents to friends and family around the world.
Derry Mayor Brenda Stevenson said: “St Patrick’s Day is all about celebrating our traditional Irish roots and heritage, so I know plenty of people living abroad will be missing home and would love to receive a message from their home city.”
Derry city centre will be buzzing with plenty of family-friendly activity in the Guildhall Square from noon, while in the Craft Village there will be story-telling, traditional music and dancing from 11am.
Pilgrimage: Archbishop Welby
Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Justin Welby will become the first leader of the Anglican Church to take part in the Saul to Downpatrick pilgrimage for half a century.
Archbishop Welby will also take part in a cross-community service in Saul, Co Down — where Patrick reputedly died. And he will preach in Down Cathedral, where the saint was buried, on the importance of reconciliation.
What's on and where
- A carnival parade leaves Belfast City Hall at noon, with drummers, dancers, and St Patrick himself taking part. It is followed by a family-friendly concert at Custom House Square from 1-3pm, headlined by former Blue singer Simon Webbe, as well as Irish boy band Hometown and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Innova.
- If watching the carnival has inspired your own jig, get down to the Ulster Hall where the John Trotter band plays at the Punjana St Patrick’s Tea Dance. Tickets are available from the Ulster Hall’s box office on a first-come, first-served basis.
- If you’re feeling more athletic, why not put on trainers and take part in the Spar Craic 10k run in aid of the Northern Ireland Hospice? It is the city’s first urban 10k, and leaves City Hall at 9am, finishing up at Titanic slipways.
- A cavalcade of floats, bands and fancy dress performers will walk through the town where St Patrick is buried — Downpatrick — for its traditional March 17 parade. A re-enactment of the saint’s landing takes place at Slaney, while Down Cathedral and the St Patrick’s Centre will be lit up green.
- Patrick is said to be the first Bishop of Armagh, and the city is celebrating with its largest ever festival. The six-day event is expected to attract 20,000 visitors, making it one of the largest St Patrick’s events anywhere in Ireland. More than 1,000 performers will bring the story of St Patrick to life from 1-4pm with dance, music, and Inshowen Carnival Group’s hot air balloon. The parade leaves from the Palace Demesne making its way through Armagh city centre at 1pm before More Power To Your Elbow take to the main stage.
- In Co Antrim, hikers have the chance to follow in St Patrick’s footsteps by climbing Slemish Mountain. It is a 1.5km walk to the top, taking an hour but providing ramblers with stunning views. Buses leave from Buckna, Broughshane from 9am to 3pm, and the Ecos Centre from 9am to 2pm.
- Ulster-Scots music sits alongside contemporary Irish tunes for Omagh’s festival from 1-4pm with dancing, singing, and Goats Don’t Shave on hand to whip the crowd into a frenzy.
- History buffs will enjoy the Ulster American Folk Park. A re-enactment entitled The Emigrants’ Farewell, will tell the story of the thousands who left Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries. Performances take place at 12pm and 2pm.
- Laughing leprechauns have been hidden across the wetlands reserve at Castle Espie in Co Down. And while St Patrick is said to have driven the snakes from Ireland, from 11am to 4pm there is a chance to meet the few slithery reptiles that escaped. The cost is included in admission, and is not suitable for under twos.
- The annual St Patrick’s Day race meeting is being held at Down Royal. Gates open from 1.35pm, racing starts at 2.25pm and the last one takes place at 5.50pm. Entrance is from £12, with punters’ packs available.
Events in the Republic
Comedian Brendan O’Carroll is the Grand Marshal of the Dublin parade, which draws hundreds of thousands of spectators.
This year’s “Celebrate Now!” themed parade will make its way from Parnell Square to St Patrick’s Cathedral with magical floats, giant puppets and marching bands.
In the Midlands, Mullingar is the place to be tomorrow as four days of festivities close with its annual parade, featuring traditional harpists.
If you’re looking for something different, then you can celebrate not just one but two Irish legends over the St Patrick’s Day holidays with a trip to Killaloe/Ballina on the Clare/Tipperary border for the annual Féile Brian Ború .
Visitors can check out the life and times of the last High King of Ireland at the Brian Ború Heritage Centre in lakeside Killaloe or take a cruise on Lough Derg and look for the reputed remains of Brian Ború’s ancient fort.
In Skerries, the original landing of our patron saint will be enacted as St Patrick will arrive ashore in a rowing boat, with loads of free family activities planned throughout the day.
Cork is also enjoying a four-day-long festival culminating in parades throughout the county and a main parade through the city tomorrow, whilst similar extended festivals are already under way in Kilkenny with its TradFest and in Limerick, where the international band festival was in full swing last night.
Galway is the place to be for fans of the arts and fun.
This year’s parade highlights include Galway Arts Centre, Colours Street Theatre, An Taibhdhearc Theatre and Galway Theatre Festival with community groups such as Foróige, GAA clubs, Amnesty International and The Russian Culture Club creating a kaleidoscope of Galway’s rich mix of cultural and ethnic diversity.
The parade will come to a grand finale with local heroes Macnas presenting their youth ensemble before Gamelan na Gaillimhe sound the end of the parade with their Indonesian gongs.
In Donegal, the main parade will be in Letterkenny where tourism chiefs have been keen to advertise the bus times from Dublin for those wanting to escape the capital.
There are also spectacular parades planned for Drogheda, Dundalk, Derry, Downpatrick, Cavan, Navan and Ennis.
Ciara Sugrue, Head of International Publicity with Fáilte Ireland, said the 60 invited journalists will be at various locations in Ireland to enjoy it all.
“The St Patrick’s Festival gives Irish tourism a compelling reason to invite and host key foreign media to visit Ireland, absorb and be a part of the atmosphere and to enthuse about Ireland in their coverage,” she said.
Belfast Telegraph Digital