St Patrick’s Day is almost here and Northern Ireland has a packed programme of events lined up to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint.
Through history, myth and legend, St Patrick’s legacy and his influence and impact breathes within the landscapes, culture and people of his heartland in Northern Ireland.
Walk in his footsteps amid the seclusion and beauty of Slemish Mountain, visit his grave at Down Cathedral, and explore the Ecclesiastical Capital of Ireland, Armagh, where two majestic cathedrals bear his name.
Rachel Quigg, Destination PR Officer said: “Northern Ireland will come alive this St Patrick’s Day with celebrations, parades, concerts, traditional music and great fun guaranteed no matter which county you visit, with a wide range of family friendly, inclusive events. It is the perfect way to start a weekend in Northern Ireland before exploring the legacy of St Patrick”.
DOWN & ARMAGH
The Home of St Patrick Festival 2017 taking place until 19th March is directly inspired by the life and work of St Patrick and held in the landscape once his home, in Counties Armagh and Down.
This year’s festival literally has something for everyone and will be narrated through walks, talks, bells, drums, processions, music, art and exclusive concerts set in breath-taking locations. Many Irish and international artists will come together for this year’s programme to include world renowned writers such as Elif Shafak and one-time punk royalty, Viv Albertine, and some as far as Australia too arrive to celebrate the life of the Spiritual Father of our island.
Some of the festival highlights include:
• St Patrick’s Vigil commencing at Church of Ireland Cathedral and ending at Roman Catholic Cathedral, Thursday 16th March
Visitors are invited to meet at St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral at 9pm where Archbishop Richard Clarke will lead the congregation in prayer. He will then guide the congregation via torchlight to St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral to be welcomed by Archbishop Eamon Martin. This symbolic expression of the unity of the Churches is a reflection of St. Patrick’s own journey of uniting the Irish people with Christianity.
• St Patrick’s Carnival Procession, Friday 17th March
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Armagh with a spectacular display of colour, music, dance and entertainment for all to enjoy as the wonderful procession themed around ‘Myths & Legends’ snakes its way through the city centre.
• Voice of the Irish Festival Closing Concert at Newry Cathedral, Sunday 19th March
The Voice of the Irish concert takes its inspiration from St. Patrick writing in his Confessio that it was literally ‘the voice of the Irish’ calling to him to return and introduce Christianity to Ireland. This inaugural concert with its own inspirational complement of up to 100 young musicians from across Ireland performing a programme of popular songs, movie themes and classics interspersed with readings and performances by some of Ireland’s leading actors and musicians. A unique experience of one of the largest orchestral line-ups ever in a wonderful Cathedral acoustic.
In Belfast, the city will mark St Patrick’s Day with a colourful carnival parade and free concert on Friday 17th March. The streets will be awash with colour from 12 noon as the parade leaves Belfast City Hall snaking its way through the heart of the city to Custom House Square where the annual concert will feature headline act, X Factor runner-up, Fleur East and traditional tunes from band The Rare Aul Stuff. Community groups from across Belfast’s cultural spectrum will take part in this year’s Belfast themed parade, alongside professional and amateur performers, costumed characters, musicians and dancers.
Enjoy a truly traditional St Patrick’s Day at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Cultra, Co. Down with a unique festival of music, seasonal foods and crafts. Listen to storytelling, sample homemade traditional foods and solve the St Patrick’s Day Quiz as you make your way around the Folk Museum. A visit to the stunning ‘Step in Time: A Story of Irish Dance’ exhibition in the Folk Galleries has never been more fitting on this day. With traditional craft demonstrations, music, farming life and all the usual shops, houses and school houses to pop in and out of, there is something for everyone on the 17 March!
Derry City and Strabane District Council will mark St Patrick’s Day with an action packed weekend of activities for all the family at their Spring Carnival from 17- 19th March, a ‘Feast of Great Events’. The theme of this year’s festival is Forever Young and it will run in conjunction with the LegenDerry Food Festival and Ubuntu Global Festival as part of a fun filled three-day weekend. The LegenDerry Food Festival will have live cooking demos, artisan foods, street theatre, music, children’s workshops and activities.
Further exploration of St Patrick’s heartland and Christian Heritage in Northern Ireland is possible not just on St Patrick’s Day, but year-round with attractions, exhibitions and events making it worth visiting at any time, and an evocative exploration of St Patrick’s heartland is possible by driving the 57 mile Saint Patrick’s Trail or following the Saint Patrick’s Way walking route.
For more information on upcoming events and following the trail of Saint Patrick in Northern Ireland, visit www.discovernorthernireland.com