It’s our national day of pride, heritage and celebration. It’s the day the whole world channels the fun and merriment of the Irish in their own way (whether picking up a hurley like Governor Schwarzenegger, dying an entire river green or just chomping on a novelty green bagel for lunch).
So can you forgive us for getting really, really excited and going a bit nuts on the aul event schedule? For using this one day as an excuse to host entire festivals, and stretching the St Patrick’s Day party to include salsa festivals, horseracing, treasure hunts, street theatre, concerts, fireworks… the list goes on.
Oh, and you’ll have to forgive us for making it so hard to choose where in Ireland to spend the big green day. Unless you have a helicopter (our first choice, too, but Tourism Ireland weren’t convinced the blog needed its own chopper), you may have to narrow down which parade on which corner of the island you plan to attend.
So in the spirit of forgiveness, we’ve fashioned a little navigation guide for you, to all the merry revelry going on around St Patrick’s green isle.
Dublin 16-19 March 2011
Dublin’s parade is the daddy of them all: a riot of troupes, artists, giant puppetry, thundering music and blazing flags cavorting from Parnell Square to St Patrick’s Cathedral. And that’s just the kick-off to the four-day festival. There’s the funfairs, the Ark’s children’s exhibition and workshops, literary treasure hunt, and for the day that’s in it, do try the ‘In the Footsteps of St Patrick’ walking tour. Irish music and céilí needs will certainly be met, with the Kilfenora Céilí Band, Sharon Shannon and festival céilí. But it’s the look-closely-and-what’s-that-got-to-do-with-St.Patrick events we love! The improv comedy Text in the City, The Commitments reunion tour, Irish writers’ event DublinSwell and the St Patrick’s Salsa Festival (maybe the great man would have been partial to a dance if he had the chance).
Don’t panic about trying to see everything on the festival’s lengthy event schedule – on the official St Patrick’s Festival website you’ll find all the details and a handy app.
Cork 17 – 19 March
“Cork is the place to be this St. Patrick’s Weekend” Cork states, as only Cork can. The festival begins with a parade of circus performers, puppets and 2,000 other participants. Not to miss a chance to show off their culinary prowess, there’ll be a food and crafts market with local artisan producers throughout the three-day festival, as well as music and children’s workshops. Have a refined end to your evening at the Cork Opera House with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra at the RTÉ Cork Proms.
Limerick 16 – 18 March
The EU City of Sport has promised an especially sporty parade this year as part of its St Patrick’s Festival, and trad music sessions that evening. On the 20th, the International Band Parade and Competition will march into town bringing over 800 musicians from around the world for a parade and free concert. Check the programme for more comedy, markets and museum fun.
Armagh 11 – 19 March
A candlelit choir led by Cara Dillon in St Patrick’s Cathedral will be a memorable start to the lengthiest St Patrick’s Day festival on the island – only natural since this is where the great man founded his first church. The parade on the 17th will be followed by live music throughout the weekend, from trad music to a Celtic night to a busking competition! A cathedral concert sweetly bookends the festival with a gathering of talented musicians at Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral. Lectures, religious ceremonies, and comedy also pack the programme.
Galway 12 – 17 March
The Galway parade is almost perfectly-sized– small enough to wind its way through Galway’s cozy winding streets, but big enough to take them over with its carnival atmosphere of brass bands, dancers and circus performers. The night before, so catch the light and projection installation with live music, performance, and film that will tell the story of the area against the night sky.
Wexford 17 – 19 March
After you catch Wexford’s darling parade on Thursday, stick around for the Skyfest firework extravaganza on Saturday night. Take a flask and blanket to the Wexford Quays to watch the skies light up over the river Slaney to a complementary soundtrack.
Londonderry 10 – 17 March
Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week) provides the build-up to the big day, with events throughout the city. St Patrick’s Day itself kicks off ‘Shindigs and Shenanigans’, and then Guildhall Square will be taken over with live music. None other than Finn Mac Cool, Giant of Causeway fame, will lead the parade along with an array of faeries, goblins and dragons. Finish the kids’ best day ever at the Tower Museum with storytelling, face painting, magic and puppet shows.
Even if you get lost and find yourself in a tiny town in the West of Ireland on the 17th, you’re still in for a parade (though it might just be a few tractors with flags).
And if you’re still determined to see everything, there’s always the chance Bono isn’t using his helicopter.
Don’t forget our adventurous blogger David will be blogging live from the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin City! He’ll begin at 11am on the 17th of March with photos, clips and stories from right inside the action! Bookmark the page now!
If you’d like to throw your own St Patrick’s Day party, we have special Irish recipes for you to try.
We’ve also got the recipes for St Patrick’s Party drinks, from cocktails to milkshakes.
Interested to know who St Patrick actually was? We’ve recreated the St Patrick story with his myths and legends, Hollywood style.