St Patrick’s Day is a day of pride, heritage and celebration. It’s the day the whole world channels the fun and merriment of Ireland in their own way whether dressing up Leprechaun style, dying an entire river green or just chomping on a novelty green bagel for lunch.
So, I think you can understand that we get really, really excited. And hopefully you’ll forgive us for going a bit nuts on the event schedule; for using this one day as an excuse to stretch St Patrick’s Day to include salsa festivals, horseracing, treasure hunts, street theatre, concerts, céilís… you get the idea.
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, to all the merry revelry going on around St Patrick’s green isle.
Dublin 16 – 19 March 2012
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 . And that’s just the kick-off to the four-day festival. There’s the funfairs, exhibitions, music, even an ‘In the Footsteps of St Patrick’ walking tour. Irish music and céilí needs will certainly be met, with the Trad Stage and festival céilí, but it’s the look-closely-and-what’s-that-got-to-do-with-St Patrick events we love! Like the screening of bizarre movie Quackser Fortune has a cousin the Bronx or the Russian music and dance extravaganza that is The Russian Spectacular. Maybe it’s laughs you’re after? If so, head to the (makes sense!), where the Father Ted weekend sees characters from the much-loved sitcom delight the crowds. Dare we say, ‘go on, go on’! 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.
Armagh 9 – 19 March 2012
A fabulous candlelit singing performance by The Priests in St Patrick’s Cathedral (Catholic) will kick off the lengthiest St Patrick’s Day Festival on the island – only natural since this is where the great man founded his first church while this year’s parade promises to be bigger than ever, The Wonderful World of Armagh being the theme. Watch musicians and bands battle it out in the Busking Competition, or combine a few laughs and a bowl of hearty stew on the Irish Stew Night with the Bards of Armagh on the 15th.
Cork 17 – 19 March 2012
“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 in the heart of the city throughout the three-day festival, as well as music, street performers and children’s workshops.
Limerick 17 – 18 March 2012
Limerick City has promised an especially epic parade this year as part of its St Patrick’s Festival, as well as some cracking post-parade trad music sessions that evening. On the 18th, the International Band Parade and Competition, in its 42nd year, 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.
Galway 12 – 17 March 2012
The Galway parade is almost perfectly-sized – small enough to make its way through Galway’s winding streets, but big enough to take them over with its carnival atmosphere of brass bands, dancers and circus performers. Performing groups from all over the world flock to Galway to celebrate the day, which promises to be a riot of colour and feel-good vibes.
Wexford 17 – 19 March 2012
The Wexford St Patrick’s Parade is thought to be the oldest in Ireland, starting way back in 1917. This year there’ll be floats, pipe bands, marching bands, musicians and street performers out in force to delight the festival revelers.
Londonderry 10 – 17 March 2012
Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish Language Week) provides the build-up to the big day, with events throughout the city. Londonderry is set to celebrate its St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival in style. The theme of the parade this year is Voyage of Discovery, exploring everything from the city’s aviation and maritime history to great voyages. After the parade has marched on, Guildhall Square will be taken over with live traditional Irish music. The kids will be kept occupied with street performers, face painters and puppets.
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 Orla will be
in Dublin. Listen in for 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.