Whether you’ll have the entire family kitted out in green, white, and gold this St. Patrick’s Day or you’re just looking forward to the opportunity of a day off, March 17 is a big day for everybody in Ireland. And it’s not even just St. Patrick’s Day any more – now the festival can last up to five days, with everything from drumming and dancing to comedy and cooking slotting into the colourful annual arts festival. Wherever you are in the country this St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll find a carnival atmosphere that will ignite your sense of Irish pride (even if you’re not Irish at all).
Starting on March 15th, Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Festival is a five-day bonanza showcasing the spectacular festival parade on March 17th. Daily events include funfairs, a craft beer village, and walking tours following in the footsteps of St. Patrick. In the evenings, Dublin businesses and iconic venues will be illuminated in green light, flying the Irish flag to indicate their national pride. Other events include treasure hunts, ceilis, concerts, talks, but the main event is the parade on March 17th. As part of “The Gathering” initiative, the 2013 parade will feature as many as 8,000 people from around the world marching in procession. The parade starts at noon on Parnell Square, winding up O’Connell Street, over O’Connell Bridge, and through Westmoreland Street, Dame Street, and Lord Edward Street, before passing Christchurch Cathedral and finishing just after St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Make sure you book accommodation early and select from a wide range of budget and luxury hotels in Dublin.
This year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in Cork will be led by the mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee, from the heart of the city centre. The festival will celebrate all things Irish from Saturday 16th March through Monday 18th. The emphasis is on free family fun, with displays from the best local artisan food and craft producers in the city centre. There are many Cork hotels to choose from if you plan on making the most of this special weekend. Avoid disappointment by booking early though.
Galway’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities kick off on Thursday 15th at 6.30pm, when Notre Dame Marching Band gets things going at Eyre Square. The band of “The Fighting Irish,” together with ten cheerleaders and a leprechaun mascot, will head down Shop Street to the King’s Head, where they will finish with a flourish of performances. The parade itself starts at 11.30am on 17th March on Lower Dominick Street (Monroes Pub) and proceeds up Dominick Street, over O’Brien’s Bridge, up Shop Street, and onto Eyre Square, before finishing up at Galway County Council Building. The theme of the parade this year is the history of Galway. Experience the best on offer with a stay at one of many Galway hotels on offer from GoIreland.
Belfast city centre will burst into bloom with colour and excitement with the 2013 St Patrick’s Day carnival. Local community groups will join professional and amateur musicians and other performers in a celebration that starts at Belfast City Hall at 12 noon and winds its way through the city centre as far as Custom House Square. To get you in the mood for this festival of all things Irish, Belfast stages the renowned traditional music festival Féile an Earraigh in the run-up to St Patrick’s Day.
Last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Limerick attracted 70,000 spectators, and the 2013 looks set to be even bigger. On Monday March 18th, the Limerick International Band Championship will feature more than 800 musicians in its 43rd-anniversary celebrations. Marching bands from across the country, the continent, and further afield will join Limerick’s best bands in a musical extravaganza that all the family will relish.