St Patrick’s Day: Half a million expected to see Dublin parade

Vibrantly themed pageants will draw people on to streets of main cities

Participants in the St Patrick’s Day parade in central London on Sunday. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Participants in the St Patrick’s Day parade in central London on Sunday. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

 

Half a million people, including more than 100,000 overseas visitors, are expected to attend this year’s St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin.

Though being held in the 1916 centenary year, the parade theme Imagine If . . . looks to the next 100 years, with Irish and international participants expected to put on a futuristic show.

As usual, the parade will start at noon on Parnell Square and finish at St Patrick’s Cathedral at 2.30pm after winding its way along the “civic spine” of the city down O’Connell Street and up Dame Street. Luas cross-city works have been suspended, clearing the city for spectators, and will not resume until after the Rising commemorations.

Dry, cold weather is forecast for the capital, with the odd spell of sunshine as the eight principal pageant companies, marching bands and hundreds of performers make their way through the city.

Waterford-based company Spraoi will make its 20th Dublin parade appearance with its pageant, Home, Above and Below. The Inishowen Carnival Group from Donegal will be presenting a show with sci-fi connotations called Cyberactive.

Dowtcha, a Cork-based group of puppet and street theatre specialists, have a more earthy feel to their pageant called Coillte Nua. Spectators can expect wild boar, rabbits, “fluffy baby owls” and giant elk roaming among animated 5m-high oak trees.

Brighter Futures, the youth community programme produced by St Patrick’s Festival, has called its show Laura Goes to Mars, which imagines life on the red planet.

Street closures start on Wednesday on Custom House Quay and Merrion Square from 7pm. On St Patrick’s Day, closures start along the parade route from 4.30am and will be lifted from 3pm onwards.

Cork

The parade, which will also feature a 10ft-high puppet of Patrick Pearse courtesy of Dowtcha Puppets, will start at 1pm and proceed from the South Mall to the Grand Parade, along St Patrick’s Street before finishing at Merchant’s Quay.

Lord Mayor Chris O’Leary said the re-enactment should bring the events of 1916 to life as part of a wider commemorative programme. “The theme for this year’s parade is 1916: The Legacy and there is nothing more appropriate than the representation of the seven signatories through pageantry and theatre,” said Mr O’Leary, the first Sinn Féin mayor of Cork in more than 90 years.

Some 80,000 people are expected in Cork for the four-day St Patrick’s Festival.

Belfast

parade in Belfast will be a “spectacular carnival of colour and character”, according to Sinn Féin Lord Mayor Arder Carson.

Carnival performers, dancers, musicians and a range of community groups will leave City Hall at noon and make their way through the streets before finishing up at Custom House Square where a free concert will be held.

Former X Factor winner Ben Haenow will headline the concert.

One half of newly formed Boyzlife “supergroup”, Brian McFadden will also be performing, as will Irish dance group Innova. The Belfast Boys’ Model Drummers and folk/rock band Altagore will then get everyone in a party mood.

Galway

The parade begins at 11.30am at Fr Griffin Road and will make its way through the city and conclude at Eyre Square.

After the parade, there will be an afternoon of family entertainment and the reviewing stand of the parade will be transformed into a stage.

Galway’s bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2020 will form part of this year’s parade.

Highlights include street theatre group Macnas and a “best of Irish comedy” line-up at the Stock Exchange on Ship Street.