Mayor announces plans for biggest ever St Patrick’s festival in London
With less than a month to go until the capital turns green for St Patrick’s Day, the Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the extensive line-up for London’s St Patrick’s Festival, the largest of its kind to ever be held in the city.
The Mayor has pledged to make the festivities the most impressive showcase of Irish culture and talent yet, bringing Londoners from all communities and visitors to the capital together for a celebration of the contribution Irish people have made to the city for centuries. Kicking off on St Patrick’s Day itself (Friday 17 March), Irish culture, food, dance and festivity will pop up across the capital for a three-day extravaganza, all inspired by the Emerald Isle and energised by London's large Irish community.
Key attractions include cinemas around the West End staging the latest Irish short films, comedy, drama and family workshops, an Irish Cultural Trail in Camden Market, which will lead Londoners down a path of music and markets, as well as a lecture from renowned Irish author and journalist, Mary Kenny, on “Perspectives on Irish Feminism” at City Hall (Monday 13 March).
Tasty tipples will be the focal point of the celebrations in Hoxton as 40FT Brewery hosts a range of independent brewers and distillers from Ireland. To top it all off, there will be well-known Irish names reciting their favourite poetry on the Tube, Irish musicians busking on the Underground and Ireland’s foremost folk band, Kila, raising the roof at Camden Market, as well as a treasure hunt to explore the history of Irish Londoners.
The festival will culminate in a climatic finale on Sunday with the world-renowned parade and stage line-up. With famed presenter and comedian Dara Ó Briain enlisted as the Parade’s Grand Marshal, the colourful procession of Irish marching bands, energetic dance troupes and spectacular pageantry will begin at Green Park, passing some of the capital’s most iconic locations from Piccadilly to Whitehall. Master storytellers Macnas will be one of the centrepieces of the parade with their world-class theatrical spectacle.
Trafalgar Square will host the closing concert and focal point of the festival on Sunday with a world-class line-up of Irish culture and community on the main stage. Holding the show together will be award-winning Irish comedian Jarlath Regan and the house band of RTÉ's Late Late Show. The packed schedule will include performances from Liam O'Maonlai, Lisa Lambe, Jack L and more very special guests, to be announced in due course. The programme will also showcase the very best new talent in the shape of The Rusangano Family, emerging trad innovators from Belfast, MOXIE, and a showcase of the Irish performers who are making waves on London's West End.
Music and dance will flow from the Trad Gathering Project, who have been bringing Irish traditional music to scores of young people across London. The #IAmIrish collective will also present a fusion of Irish music with other world music and dance, and Trafalgar Square will bounce and jig to Irish dancing showcases from the Maguire O'Shea Academy of Irish Dance.
The event will close with a big singalong finale, which will feature, among others, three powerful female voices from Ireland.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The Irish community in the capital has helped to enrich London over many generations, making our capital a livelier, warmer, more vibrant place to live, work and visit. I’m incredibly proud to host the biggest St Patrick’s Festival London has ever seen, an opportunity for Londoners from all backgrounds and visitors to the capital to immerse themselves in the festivities and experience Irish culture at its best. For me, that's what occasions like this are all about - people from all communities embracing and celebrating each, showing that London is truly open. Open to people, open for business and open to new ideas.
“I believe the Irish community here embodies that spirit and those values and represents London at its outward-looking and inclusive best. A very Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone celebrating here, in Ireland and around the world. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!”
Gary Dunne, Creative Programmer of London’s St Patrick’s Cultural Festival, said: 'This is a jam-packed programme - one of our biggest and best yet. It presents an experience which is a diverse, energetic and creative as this great city's Irish community. Through music, song, dance and community, we'll bring that very special experience of Irish culture and craic to the heart of London.'
Christine Sisk, Director at Culture Ireland, said: “Culture Ireland’s support for a wide range of artists to travel from Ireland to London’s St Patrick's Festival offers a unique platform to reach a diverse audience. This year performances by some of Ireland’s finest musicians and the street spectacular by Macnas will connect participants in London to Ireland on this wonderful day of global celebration of the strength of Irish creativity.”
David Boyce, Deputy Director Tourism Ireland GB, said: “Tourism Ireland is delighted to support the St Patrick's Festival in London. People everywhere demonstrate a strong affinity with St Patrick’s Day, with events taking place in cities across Great Britain to celebrate Ireland’s warm and close relationship with our nearest neighbour.”
FULL PROGRAMME available at www.london.gov.uk/stpatricks)