Dublin’s St Patrick’s Festival pulls in visitors from all over the world, and magnificent as its extensive programme of events is, there is an abundance of alternative ways to commemorate our national holiday all over the country. Whether it’s a multicultural parade in Galway or a night-time celebration in Dingle or a celebration of contemporary Irish trad in Kilkenny, lasting memories are just waiting to be made.



Leeside’s St Patrick’s Day parade leans heavily on history this year with ‘1916: the Legacy’ the overarching theme. Up to 3,000 participants will not only evoke that momentous year of a century ago, but also aspects of Irish life in the 100 years that followed. The four-day festival will also include circus and magic workshops for all the family in Bishop Lucey Park, an artisan food and craft fair on Grand Parade and a special commemorative concert, Aiséirí 1916, at Cork City Hall on St Patrick’s Night. Landmark buildings, including City Hall, will be bathed in green light for the duration of the festival.



The rich ethnic and cultural diversity of the City of the Tribes in 2016 is being celebrated in Galway’s parade with participants including the Russian Cultural Club and Gamelan na Gaillimhe, whose music is infused with traditional Indonesian elements. The country’s most fabled street theatre group Macnas will, once more, provide great colour and spectacle in its home town. Several venues will host special music performances on the night of March 17, but for many the main draw is likely to be a ‘best of Irish comedy’ lineup at the Stock Exchange on Ship Street.



The Treaty City’s St Patrick’s Day Parade usually vies with Cork for the title of Ireland’s biggest outside Dublin, and this year’s especially colourful extravaganza will be inspired by the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Under the banner ‘Commemorate’, some 4,000 participants from 100 community groups will take part, with the famed Waterford street theatre group, Spraoí, and its Sligo equivalent, the Workhouse Studio, set to produce typically dazzling work.



Ireland’s oldest city was the first place to declare St Patrick’s Day a national holiday back in 1903 and they’ve proudly held parades there ever since. The theme this year is ‘Three Sisters 2020: Celebrating Waterford’s Cultural Diversity’ - a title that references the Suir, Nore and Barrow rivers that flow into Waterford Harbour and the city’s aspiration to be European Capital of Culture in four years’ time. Those after an event with a difference should check out The University of Northern Iowa Women’s Chorus, who will play a special concert at Christchurch Cathedral Waterford on March 16.



There are few lovelier settings for a St Patrick’s Day parade than the streets of medieval Marble City, but over the past three years Kilkenny has made our national holiday a multiple-day event thanks to its acclaimed TradFest, a celebration of the best of contemporary Irish folk music. Among the headliners this year are Colm Mac An Iomaire, Damien Dempsey, Iarla Ó Lionáird and the evergreen Hothouse Flowers. Events for all ages are planned, including a ‘trad trail’ and music workshops.



While places like Dingle can’t compete with the cities in terms of scale on St Patrick’s Day, they can try to offer an entirely different experience and they don’t come much more novel than the picturesque coastal Kerry town. While the rest of the country is asleep, Dingle/An Daingean wakes early to celebrate our national saint when the Dingle Fife and Drum Band delivers rousing music on a march around the town that begins at 6am. Later, at noon, a parade with a children-oriented focus provides a more traditional way of celebrating March 17.



Getting under way at 11am, rather than the 12 noon that’s customary elsewhere, Clare’s most significant parade is titled ‘Celebrating Our Community’ this year, and participants hailing from the town and its hinterland will showcase the rich artistic, cultural and sporting legacy of the Banner County. As Ennis will be hosting trad’s greatest festival, Fleadh Cheoil na Éireann this August, much of the festivities around St Patrick’s Day will centre on all that’s unique about Irish music and dance.



This Dublin coastal town is just a short  train journey from Dublin’s City Centre, but many people prefer the smaller scale and family-oriented fun of its own venerable parade. There are week-long celebrations in Bray from March 16 with such activities as a céilí breakfast, a special Bray Head walk and street theatre from a Covent Garden, London troupe. Bray’s sea-front promenade has long been a magnet for thrill-seekers and this year will be no different thanks to the residency of Bird’s Euroshow Funfair.



They do our national holiday very differently in the West Cork food haven. Everything centres on a night parade, which starts at 7.30pm on March 16. Beautifully lit boats will sail into Kinsale Harbour while local choirs entertain the spectators on the Pier Head. One boat will accommodate ‘St Patrick’ while another will feature ‘the White Lady’, one of Munster’s most celebrated ghosts, who will be accompanied by a lone piper. A celebration that fuses reverence, superstition and fun, it will be concluded by a spectacular firework display to illuminate the night sky.


For more fun ideas about where to enjoy our national holiday, please see www.discoverireland.ie




For more information / Images

Contact: Ailbhe Garrihy/ Liz McNulty

ailbhe@thereputationsagency.ie  / liz@thereputationsagency.ie

01 661 8915/ 086 0678648

or Helen Brady helen.brady@failteireland.ie

01 884 7262


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