Belfast Telegraph

St Patrick's Day: The top ten parades and parties for 2015

By Sara Neill

St Patrick's Day celebrations are getting ready to hit the streets across the world, with shamrocks on show, rivers dyed green, and some of the world's most recognisable buildings lit up in a distinctively emerald hue.

Closer to home, there are parades and parties aplenty, and we have tracked down 10 of the best.

1. A carnival parade leaves Belfast City Hall at noon tomorrow, 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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 tomorrow 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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