Belfast's St Patrick's Day parade was officially launched today - with some colourful characters getting in on the action. Lord Mayor of Belfast Nicola Mallon is promising a carnival-like atmosphere at City Hall for the annual bash.
Renewed efforts are being made this year to give the parade in honour of Ireland's patrol saint special cross-community attraction, said the mayor.
The parade will start at City Hall at noon and make its way to Custom House Square where a free concert will be held between 1pm and 3pm.
Simon Webb, member of smash hit boy band 'Blue' and Strictly Come Dancing finalist has been announced as the headliner of the concert for the event on Tuesday 17 March.
Entry to the concert is on a first-come, first-served basis and under 16's must be accompanied by an adult.
Speaking at the launch surrounded by traditional St Patrick's costumed characters, councillor Mallon said: "As Lord Mayor of the city, I extend a particular welcome to anyone, this event is about having a family fun day, it doesn't matter what colour, creed, or what your political persuasion is-everyone is welcome.
"This is a celebration of culture, life in the city, and a celebration of creativity and talent."
She added: "We have ensured we have been as inclusive as possible in terms of involvement. We have reached out to schools and art groups across the City. We have the involvement of the cheerleaders from Sandy Row, so we have made the event as open and as welcoming as we can make it."
St Patrick, in the form of a giant puppet will chase model snakes along the route as the parade makes it way to Custom House Square.
A colourful and packed event with lots of street performances, a variety of musicians, pipe bands, eye-catching floats, carinal dancers, as well as much more festival treats will make this a family friendly fun day out.
Words by Kirsten Elder
Credit: Belfast Telegraph