London prepares for big party to celebrate St Patrick's Day

14 March 2014

• Riverdance bring 20th anniversary show to Trafalgar Square on Sunday as part of Mayor's celebrations

• The Commitments and Once the Musical also on packed line-up that includes live music, top comedy, film, dance and delicious Irish fare

• World renowned Irish dancer Michael Flatley will lead parade from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square

With an emphasis on emerald green, London is set for a colourful and lively party this Sunday 16 March, when the Mayor's St Patrick's Day parade and festival take place in central London.

The family friendly event is free to attend and being organised by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson with support from presenting partner O2 International SIM.

Among many highlights, the world-famous Riverdance will headline the main stage in Trafalgar Square. It will be an unmissable opportunity to see them perform six months ahead of their 20th Anniversary tour. Also on the bill will be stars of the hit West End shows The Commitments and Once the Musical, plus legendary Irish folk group Kíla, singer-songwriter Mundy; and Daithi Ó’Drónaí, who fuses traditional music and electronica.

International dance star Michael Flatley will join politicians and dignitaries to lead the St Patrick's Day parade at midday, with people being encouraged to line the route from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square. Emergency Exit Arts, one of the UK's leading participatory arts companies, will also be bringing a five metre tall St Patrick and a striking, five metre tall firebird breathing a fountain of sparks.

Around 90 groups and other participants are involved in this year's parade, representing Irish and other community organisations, sports clubs, dance schools, marching bands, and many more. The diverse range of groups include the Metropolitan Police Emerald Society; London Fire Brigade Emerald Society; London Irish Women's Group; RASPO Steel Orchestra; Comhaltas; Dublin All Stars; Bolivian Heritage dance group; and London Council of Irish Counties.

Taking part in the parade for the first time will be the London-Irish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group, which was set up last year.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'I urge Londoners and tourists alike to join in the biggest St Patrick's Day festival outside of the Emerald Isle itself. What better way to celebrate the contribution generations of Irish have made to our capital than with a day of singing, dancing, feasting and general merriment.'

Other highlights include the always popular London Irish Comedy Festival Marquee, which will be hosting some of Ireland's funniest comedians. These include Eric Lalor, 2011 and 2012 winner of the Irish Standup of the Year; Barry Murphy and Roisin Conaty, star of Channel 4’s Man Down and BBC Three’s Impractical Jokers Edinburgh Comedy Award; Aisling Bea, winner of The Gilded Balloon's So You Think You're Funny award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2012; and Jarlath Regan, one of the most prolific Irish stand-up comedians of the last 10 years.

Kerrygold will bring the flavours of Ireland to the festival with an Irish Food Market featuring a wide selection of tempting local produce, from Burren Smokehouse salmon and Clonakilty Black Pudding, to Broderick's Cakes, Irish farmhouse cheeses, traditional breads and luxury confectionary. The St Patrick's Day Film Festival at the Prince Charles Cinema near Leicester Square will feature acclaimed Irish films throughout the afternoon, including the multi-award winning short film The Missing Scarf and Oscar winning black comedy, Six Shooter.

New for this year, revellers will also be able to chance to get out their 'gúnas' (party frocks) and dancing shoes and take to the floor at the first St Patrick's Day Tea Dance, to the sounds of live Irish bands in the splendour of Westminster Cathedral Hall. Like the rest of the festival, the event is free and runs from 2pm – 6pm.

There will also be the inaugural St Patrick's Day Business Lunch, which will be taking place at the Charing Cross Hotel from 1:30pm-3:30pm. Irish baritone Gavan Rang will perform at the event, with Michael Flatley the guest speaker. The lunch is sponsored by Northbank BID.

O2 International Sim are proud once again to be sponsoring the Mayor's St Patrick's Day festival. The partnership will see O2 bring their fantastic 'O2 zone' to the festival in London this year – another addition to the stellar line-up of music and entertainment already on offer. The O2 zone will be helping to connect people with friends and families in Ireland.

Gosia Manka, Marketing Manager O2, said: 'O2 International Sim are delighted to be involved with St Patrick's Day, we're looking forward to seeing you at our O2 zone in Trafalgar Square.' 

Notes to editors

1. The Mayor of London's St Patrick's Day celebrations are being organised in partnership with the Council of Irish Counties Association. The presenting partner is 02, with support from The Irish Tourist Board, Bord Bia, Kerrygold, Northbank BID, and Archant/London 24.

2. For more information on the O2 International Sim, go to www.o2internationalevents.co.uk.

3. Press information is available from Jennifer Sheldon on 020 7893 49 28 or Ben McKnight on 020 7983 4071. [email protected] (press only - not for publication) 

PROGRAMME (All details subject to change) Event: St Patrick's Day Parade and Festival Date: Sunday 16 March 2014 Time: Parade starts midday – Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly, Haymarket, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall Festival in Trafalgar Square – midday to 6pm Entry: FREE Information: www.london.gov.uk/st-patricks-day 

VIP GROUP The VIP group leading the parade will include: Michael Flatley Richard Blakeway Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property Pat Rabbitee TD Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Dan Mulhall Ambassador, Irish Embassy Cathy Barnicles Irish Community Officer (Embassy of Ireland) Irish Embassy Officials Catherina Casey Chair of St Patrick’s Day Advisory Forum (Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith) Mary Allen Council of Irish Counties Association John Connolly Council of Irish Community Associations 

MAIN STAGE 12pm-6pm MC Maggie Doyle 12:00pm London Irish Music School - Irish music & dance 12:40pm Daithi Ó’Drónaí - tradition meets electronica 1:05pm Irish Harp Orchestra 1:20pm Speeches 1:30pm The Commitments 2:00pm Mulkere Music Academy 2:40pm Mundy - Irish singer-songwriter 3:00pm Once The Musical 3:30pm Jig - fresh Irish dance meets archive footage 3:50pm Kila - legendary Irish traditional group 4:45pm Late Late Show Band & special guests 5:40pm Finale: Riverdance - 20th Anniversary Set 

IRISH COMEDY MARQUEE 2:15pm-5:15pm Presented by the London Irish Comedy Festival, Eric Lalor, 2011 and 2012 winner of the Irish Standup of the Year award will lead an all-star laughter line-up. Set includes Barry Murphy and Roisin Conaty, star of Channel 4’s Man Down and BBC Three’s Impractical Jokers Edinburgh Comedy Award.

 IRISH FOOD MARKET Sponsored by Kerrygold, bringing a range of tempting foods: • Brodericks • Burren Smokehouse • Clonakilty Blackpudding Co • DP Connolly & Sons • Irish Cheese Direct • Keogh's Crisps • Kerrygold • Mella's Fudge • The Foods of Athenry • The Jelly Bean Factory • Your Irish Shop 

PARADE PARTICPANTS Bill Aulsberry Pacer Irish Wolfhound Pacer St Patrick's Banner Banner Tricolour Banner Peace Banner 4 Provinces Banner Banner VIP Walkers Banner St Patrick (5m tall) (Emergency Exit Arts) Pageantry - Giant Ireland Council Banner Banner London Council of Irish Counties Walking- Community Irish Community Services Walking - Community Southwark Irish Pensioners Project Walkers x 25, plus Float London Irish Vintage Group Escort Saloon London Irish Vintage Group Escort Sport SR 2000 Dublin All Stars Band World Championship Dancers 2014 Walkers/ Dance Fr. Murphy's Ladies Football & Camogie Club Walking - Sports Club Kilburn Gaels Youth Hurling Club Float - Sports Club Moss Repairs Ford Cortina Greenwich Gathering Walking - Community County Carlow Association London Walking - Community Pandemonium Drummers Band Fermanagh Association London Walking - Community London 2012 Ceremonies Carnival Crew Walking - Pageant Tipperary Association London Walking - Community M MOSS REPAIRS LTD Walking - Commercial M MOSS REPAIRS LTD Morris Minor M MOSS REPAIRS LTD Morris Gowloy Donegal Association London Float - Community London Irish Centre Walking - Community MORENADA BLOQUE KANTUTA Dance Group with vehicle Michael Moss / Angela Clark Talbot Avenger Michael Moss / Angela Clark Hillman Avenger Cork Association London Walking - Community Waterford Association London Walking - Community GOAL UK Float George Killoughery Ltd Float - Commercial Drumenagh School of Irish dance Dance Group Connolly Association Walking - Community Met Police Emerald Society Walkers, cars, plus band Limerick Exiles Association London Walking - Community Centro de la Comunidad Walking / Dance Haringey Irish Cultural & Community Centre Walking - Community J O'Doherty Haulage Ltd Float - Commercial Innisfree Housing Association Float & walking group? Community CAPORALES SAN SIMON LONDRES Dance Group with float London Irish Women's Network Walking - Community London-Irish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Group Walking- Community Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International & Soznak Pageantry - Caterpillar Essex Caledonian Pipe Band Band London Irish Vintage Group Volvo London Irish Vintage Group Mercedes Benz Meath Association of London Float London Fire Brigade Emerald Society Walkers. Piper, drummer, fire engine Comhaltas Float with Band Talentos Dance group Catherine Carmel Tricycle Thom Hunter Walker solo- Chris O'Connor walking Sheridan Dance Studios Walking Iryna Sennikava Walking - Individual Jonathan Fletcher Walking - JSM SUPPORT SERVICES LIMITED Walking - Commercial RASPO Steel Orchestra / CultureMix Arts Ltd Float – Community Band Morphsuits (green, shamrock and Irish flag suit) Walking / Dancing - Costume company Concern Worldwide Float - charity Vintage Club Float - McG BOLIVIAN HERITAGE Dance Group & Float Cavan Association London Walking - Community Cappagh Float -Commercial Tir Conaill Gaels Youth Gaelic Football Club Float - Sports Club North London Shamrocks - Youth Gaelic football club Walking - Community | Sports Club St Dympnas GFC Walking – Sports Club Greenwich Police Cadets Marching Band Band Mayo Association London Walkers Scoil Rince Rochford Irish Dancing Group Float - Dance County Association Float - McG F M Conway, Term maintenance contractors Float Commercial CRAIC (Campaign for the Rights and Actions of Irish Communities) Walking - Trade Union St Patrick's College London Walking - community Irish Chaplaincy in Britain Float - Community The Real Jigs Band South London Irish Dancers Walking/Dancing Vintage Club Float - McG London Wexford Association Float - community Clare Association Walking - Community Group Monaghan Association London Walking - Community Offaly Association 1962 Walkers - Community Firebird (Emergency Exit Art)s Pageantry - Firebird Galway Association London Walking - Community 

FILM FESTIVAL 12pm-5pm Celine Curtain, Lecturer in Production, Broadcasting & Film Studies at Galway University, has curated the film festival, which takes place at Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Pl, London WC2H 7B (off Leicester Square). In association with Irish Film Institute and Irish Film London. 12pm Programme 1: Shooting Stars Six Shooter, Dir. Martin McDonagh (Oscar Winner) He Shoots, He Scores, Dir. John Moore 1pm Programme 2: Memorable Moments 2pm Programme 3: Animated Antics 3pm Programme 4: Contemporary Irish Shorts 4pm Programme 5: Contemporary Irish Shorts