On the 17th of March each year, the towns and cities of Ireland turn shades of green, white and orange as revelers take to the streets to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. What once started as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has now become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing and a whole lot of shamrocks. St. Patrick’s day (or St. Paddy’s) became an official holiday in 1901, with the first parade occurring in 1931.
The parades take place in towns all over Ireland, and are a flurry of green-clad participants, folk music and dancing. Last year’s theme for the parade was to explore the “Present”, however this year the parade explores the “Future”. This year’s parade theme is called “Imagine If” and is inspired by the youth of Ireland as they look to the future. According to the official St. Patrick’s Day website, the festival poses the question, ‘who and what do we aspire to be and do in the next 100 years?’
Saint Patrick is the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland, who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Over time, St. Patrick’s Day has come to be associated with everything Irish, however is also seen by some as a traditional day for spiritual renewal by missionaries worldwide. It is celebrated all over the world with parades occurring from Australia to New York. During this time in Ireland, the streets may be alive with people and the sounds of Irish folk music may be heard from the many pubs and bars open during this occasion. It is likely the world famous Guinness may be available to buy in large quantities during this time, as tourists and locals flock into Ireland to get involved in the festivities and enjoy some Irish dry stout. In the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, they have some fun activities planned for the 17th March which includes marching bands, ceili dancers and a complimentary pass into the home of Guinness for anyone named Patrick or Patricia.
Highlights to look forward to on St. Patrick’s Day include the Irish Craft Beer and Whiskey Village in Dublin which includes food and drink stalls, the opportunity to take part in a master class and enjoy live music. Tickets for the event cost 10 Euros per person and it is open from 12pm until 11pm on March 17th. Other events include street theatre over three days which are a mix of comedy and entertaining theatrical performances around the city of Dublin. During this time, expect to see many iconic buildings in Dublin turn green to celebrate the occasion for three days.
For tourists visiting Ireland during this time, there are many activities to experience and many sights to see in the Emerald Isle. For those who may enjoy the outdoors and more natural areas of interest, the Giant’s Causeway in the Northern part of Ireland offers the opportunity to view an unusual rock formation by the sea which is associated with ancient Irish folk stories. In the city of Dublin, visitors may simply enjoy a pint of Guinness in one of the many Victorian-style pubs whilst listening to Irish fiddle songs. For those who enjoy architecture and history, there are many buildings to visit and learn more about, such as Dublin Castle, which sits on the junction of the River Liffey. The Kilmainham Gaol may be another iconic building to visit whilst in Ireland and has held some of the most famous political and military leaders in Irish history. Tours are available and offer a dramatic and realistic insight into life inside the Kilmainham Gaol hundreds of years ago.
What other festivals or events in Europe may involve wearing a specific colour?