Roll out the green carpet - the party kicks off


ST PATRICK’S DAY FESTIVAL:NO MATTER where you are in Ireland today, St Patrick’s Day celebrations won’t be far away.

Dublin Airport will be rolling out the green carpet for more than 240,000 passengers over the course of the four-day festival. More than 1,600 flights will arrive and depart over the course of the long weekend.

Passengers are advised to arrive 90 minutes before departure and to check from which terminal their flight will depart before leaving home.

Terminals 1 and 2 will be decked out with bunting and balloons in celebration. Overseas travellers can expect to be greeted by jugglers, stilt walkers and traditional Irish bands upon arrival.

In Dublin city centre, the St Patrick’s Day Parade will set off from Parnell Square at midday today. The parade will explore the theme of “How? What? Why?” to commemorate Dublin’s designation as City of Science 2012.

For the first time, a group of Polish children and teenagers will be participating in the Dublin parade, as part of the Brighter Futures project. As part of the project, 11 students along with other youth groups from the city will march together to visually represent the science theme of “gravity”.

Those lucky enough to be named Patrick, or any variation thereof, might want to venture over to the Guinness Storehouse. Patricks will be treated as VIPs, or Very Important Patricks, receiving free admission to the Guinness Storehouse St Patrick’s Festival. The festival will have live music, food tasting, a Guinness World Record attempt, a céilí mór and plenty of Guinness. Patricks will need to bring ID.

At Dublin Zoo, even the animals will be getting in on the festive fun – they’ll be given Tricolour treats of orange and green fruit and vegetables. Listen up to St Patrick’s-themed zookeeper talks, face painting and other child-friendly activities.

Funfairs will be in full swing all day on Dublin’s Merrion Square, Wolfe Tone Park and the Custom House Quay.

Belfast’s carnival parade will begin at midday from City Hall and wind its way down to the Custom House Square. Music abounds, with the Red Hot Chili Pipers and X-Factor finalist Sophie Habibis headlining the music stage. Contemporary and folk musicians will join them, as well as the Royal Tara School of Irish Dance.

In Cork, the parade starts from Parnell Place at 1pm. All day long the Living Social Music Stage at the Grand Parade and Boardwalk South Mall will feature tunes from Comhaltas, Meascáin and Death by Chocolate. A trad trail and Barry’s Tea Market will entertain after the parade.

Galway’s parade will set off at 11.30am from Lower Dominick Street. The trad trail will be entertaining all weekend in the Latin Quarter, and the International Print Exhibition will be open throughout the festival.