Belfast Telegraph

Revellers to paint the town green

The world will go green as St Patrick's Day celebrations get under way.

Hundreds of thousands of revellers will take to the streets of Dublin as the annual parade snakes through the streets with colourful costumes, floats, dancers and music to fill the nation with glee.

Belfast will also get in on the action with a carnival and parade throughout the city centre with street performers and a free music concert at Custom House Square.

But the emerald isle will not be the only place where Guinness will be flowing and fiddles fiddling. With an Irish diaspora of around 70 million, major cities across the globe will also hold their green-inspired galas.

Ireland's capital will see locals and tourists come together in a sea of emerald as homegrown marching bands and groups from as far flung as the west coast of the US make their way from Parnell Square, along O'Connell Street and Dame Street to the famous St Patrick's Cathedral.

The theme for this year's parade is a scientific one: How? What? Why? which is inspired by Dublin's standing as the 2012 City of Science. Floats and costumes are based on scientific concepts and questions, posed by Irish schoolchildren, such as: How is electricity made? How is a rainbow formed? What makes the weather change?

Last year's event attracted around 550,000 spectators but festival organisers expect an even larger turnout. Veteran soccer commentator John Giles will lead the parade as Grand Marshal when it kicks off at midday and President Michael D Higgins will enjoy his first St Patrick's Day as head of state when he takes part as special guest at the GPO in O'Connell Street.

The city centre will be a hive of activity with St Stephen's Green and Temple Bar's Meeting House Square serving up traditional Irish music performances, while Merrion Square is expected to attract youngsters with a Ferris wheel and other funfair attractions. Meanwhile around 240,000 passengers are expected through Dublin Airport over the bank holiday weekend, as locals jet off and visitors descend on the chaotic festivities.

The Prince's Palace in Monaco and the Sydney Opera House will be lit up in honour of St Patrick, as will Niagara Falls, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Burj al Arab hotel in Dubai. Elsewhere, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will promote Ireland to leaders in business, politics and tourism in the US when he takes in the sights and sounds of Indiana.

Mr Kenny will then travel to New York on Monday for Ireland Day, where he will ring the bell of the New York Stock Exchange and then will jet to Washington on Tuesday for a St Patrick's party with US President Barack Obama. The Taoiseach has urged the nation to celebrate St Patrick's Day with pride, saying that being Irish is a badge of honour.

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