Saint Patrick’s Day (17 March) is an annual feast day which celebrates Saint Patrick (circa 385–461 AD), one of the patron saints of Ireland.
17 March used to be just a holy day in Ireland, but how did it become synonymous with a celebration of all things Irish.
St Patrick is remembered around the world, with North America being home to some of the most spectacular productions – The St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York is a rather splendid affair as it marches up 5th Avenue to the beat of countless marching bands; while Hot Springs, Arkansas parades its procession down Bridge Street and, despite it being reputedly the shortest street in the world, there’s plenty to keep you occupied along the way. In Chicago, they even turn the river green!
In London, marching bands from the UK, Ireland and the US strut their stuff through the centre of the city, with a fun-filled St Patrick’s Festival taking place around Trafalgar Square.
Ireland wasn’t the first country to celebrate St Patrick’s Day with a parade and, up until 1970, pubs across Ireland closed their doors as a mark of respect for this religious occasion! It was, in fact, colonial New York City that hosted the first official St Patrick’s Day parade back in 1762, when Irish immigrants in the British colonial army marched down the city streets to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Dublin’s first St Patrick’s Day Parade is little more than 75 years old, but the occasion has changed dramatically since then!
The Mayor’s St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival with Lebara Mobile will take place on Sunday 14 March 2010, and is likely to be one of London’s liveliest celebrations of the year. Over 100,000 people attended the event last year.
- The parade – a colourful array of floats, marching bands and groups representing the Irish Counties – will proceed through central London from Green Park to Trafalgar Square from midday.
- Trafalgar Square will host the festival programme of live Irish music and dance on the main performance stage, showcasing the best of Irish music and dance from traditional to contemporary. Acts to be announced shortly.
- This free family day out is a fun way to experience all things Irish – food, dance, crafts, culture and music.
For more information, visit www.london.gov.uk/stpatricksday