Theme of St Patrick’s Festival will be ‘home’
Programme of events involving hundreds of performers launched in Dublin on Tuesday
The theme of this year’s St Patrick’s Festival will explore the concept of “home” and is expected to generate more than € 70 million for the Irish economy over the five days it spans next month.
The festival, which runs from March 15th to 19th, was launched in Dublin on Tuesday and will involve thousands of home-grown and international musicians, dancers, storytellers and performers.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha said the theme of “home” would involve “the exploration of my home, your home, our home”. The programme includes a film project, street-theatre, talks, literature, music, Irish language, as well as visual art.
The festival is a significant money-spinner for the State. More than 105,000 out-of-state visitors attended in 2016, spending an average of 8.8 days in Ireland, and 6.5 days in Dublin.
During the 2015 festival, out-of-state visitors generated an estimated total expenditure of €73 million, including expenditure of €51.3 million in Dublin, and about €22 million elsewhere in the Republic.
Fáilte Ireland chief executive Paul Kelly said the festival was a “crucial element” of the tourism sector which generates €8.8 billion in revenue and sustains 235,000 jobs.
“It’s worth about €70 million in revenue, but in terms of a showcase its value is priceless,” he said. “We’ll be bringing in international media from all over the world and the coverage that will result from that will be invaluable to us.”
The festival, which is funded by Fáilte Ireland, Dublin City Council and the Department of Culture, has commissioned film maker Donal Dineen to create a documentary, Pathways: Irish Routes to the Art of the Matter, around this year’s theme.
The documentary will centre on successful Irish people abroad from the creative sector, and examine how they got there.
The programme of events will include a major exhibition, Where We Live, which is described as “a kaleidoscope of stories regaling what it feels like to live in Dublin and Ireland today”.
The flagship event of the festival, the parade in Dublin, takes place at noon on March 17th and will weave its way through the heart of the capital city. Preparations for the event take up to two years. More than 2,000 band members will take part this year.
“For those of us living here or the Diaspora, home will forever be a part of us, and for this year’s festival we want to explore and celebrate what this means,” said Susan Kirby, St Patrick’s Festival chief executive.
“For some it is our physical place of birth and holds a special place within us, while for others it isn’t physical but rather the feelings, the emotion, the character, the people and the culture, that shape it and make it.”
The festival’s new international cultural exchange programme, the aim of which is to promote Irish contemporary culture and arts worldwide, also sees events taking place in London and Manchester.
On March 16th, the London Irish Centre will host a collaborative cultural event inspired by the #IAmIrish project which addresses the diversity of Irish identity and “what it looks like to be Irish”.