With the long weekend, St Patrick’s Day will now be celebrated over a prolonged four-day special Festival – until Monday 18th March – which will see the city centre come alive with numerous exciting events and celebrations. Community groups, professional and amateur performers, musicians and acrobats will be taking to the streets to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint.
Féile an Earraigh, Belfast’s week long spring traditional festival of tours, plays, talks, exhibitions and music runs until Sunday 17th of March. In what is billed to be the best Féile in a decade, Bank Square will be taken over by a large Marquee which will play host to a series of special acts. Other venues across the city will also be holding special events.
There’s plenty to see and do outside of the city too. Saturday is one of the biggest days on the racing calendar at Down Royal where punters can enjoy the sound of thundering hooves and cheer on a winner.
If you’re looking for a more traditional St Patrick’s Day, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum is well worth a visit for their unique festival of music and crafts. Take part in set dancing, sample traditional foods in the many exhibit buildings and listen to stories, music and song.
If you fancy taking to the water you can enjoy fun and craic with the Lagan Boat Company who are offering a special 2 for 1 deal as part of the Backin`Belfast campaign (offer available until 18 March only). The boat departs from Donegall Quay and gives visitors a guided boat tour of the harbour, taking in views of Titanic Belfast.
Saturday 16th March 2013
· St George’s Market: 9am-3.30pm (Free)
The whole family can enjoy St Patrick’s Day celebrations at St George’s market where there will be the usual amazing range of food and craft stalls as well as dance displays and live folk music by the Ulster Folk incorporating a Lambeg drum in the performance. For more information call 028 9043 5704 or visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events
· Belfast Music Bus Tour: 2pm (£8.00 or £6 concession)
Explore Belfast’s vibrant music scene as this tour departs from the Ulster Hall and takes a trip through the heart of a great rock ‘n’ roll city, taking in artists like Them, Van Morrison & Snow Patrol on the way. For more information call 028 9024 6609 or visit www.belfastmusic.org
· Music & Dance Showcase at CastleCourt: 12-4pm (free)
ArtsEkta, Northern Ireland’s leading ethnic arts organisation, will provide a taste of world culture with a fantastic line-up of music and dance at Castle Court. Shoppers will experience live Afro-Carribbean music, Brazilian, Salsa & Mexican Dance, Chinese lion dance, Martial arts & Tai Chi performance, and get the opportunity to participate in African drumming and Hip Hop dance workshops. Shoppers will also have the opportunity to participate in special Chinese, Polish and Latin American arts and crafts workshops or to get a free henna tattoo.
· Live Music at Cornmarket: 4-6pm (free)
Enjoy the melodic tones of Rachel Austin, a singer/songwriter from Harrisonburg, Virginia who has been working for many years in Belfast as a performer and vocal coach. She recorded her recent release, ‘Age Of Reason’ in Austin, Texas and is just back from a sell-out tour of America.
Sunday 17th March 2013
· St Patrick’s Day Carnival Parade: 12 noon (free)
Do not miss a vivid rainbow of colours with eye-catching floats, energetic performers and local community groups coming together to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Belfast. Leaving from Belfast City Hall at 12 noon and travelling through Belfast City Centre this is a great event for all the family to enjoy. For more information please call 028 9024 6609 or visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events
· St Patrick’s Day Concert at Custom House Square: 1-3pm (free – on a first come first served basis, gates open at 12noon)
The annual free concert will be taking place at Custom House Square. With amazing performances by X Factor finalist Amelia Lily and the Voice UK’s David Julien this is not to be missed. Adding to the line-up will be a range of traditional Irish and Ulster Scots, and other musicians. For more information please call 028 9024 6609 or visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/events
· St Patrick’s Day Céili Dance: 8:00 pm (£8)
The Ulster Hall will play host to the best of local talent featuring Céili and set dancing, traditional music and a special performance by the McPeake family.
· St Patrick’s Concert Kids Zone beside the Big Fish: 1-3pm (free)
Toddlers and younger children can enjoy the concert away from the crowds. There will be a great selection of free family entertainment including face painters, glitter tattoos, arts and crafts and kid’s rides.
· Pets Come to the City at CastleCourt: 1-5pm (free)
Cuddle corner is back at CastleCourt giving parents the perfect opportunity to grab a cappuccino and entertain the little ones. The petting zoo brings the outdoors indoors where fluffy friends include a menagerie of pygmy goats, guinea pigs, wallabys and lambs to bring smiles of delight to everyone’s faces.
Monday 18th March 2013
· Belfast Literary Walking Tour: 1:00 pm (£6 – Booking essential)
Departing from the historic landmark that is The Crown Bar, this tour will explore the best of literary Belfast. The tour will take you through places old and new, through Belfast’s history and the changing modern city alike. For more information please call 028 9024 6609 or visit www.literarybelfast.org
For more information on events and things to do in Belfast for St Patrick’s weekend, contact the Belfast Welcome Centre, 47 Donegall Place on 028 9024 6609 or visit www.gotobelfast.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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