St Patrick’s Day 2014: London Celebrations

The Daily Telegraph, February 24, 2014

St Patrick’s Day falls on March 17 (a bank holiday in Ireland), but in London official celebrations typically take place on the Sunday closest to that date. The London parade and other complementary events take place on March 16. Over 100,000 attend each year, including, of course, a large segment of the capital’s sizeable Irish community.

On the day, the focal point for celebrations will be Trafalgar Square, where a free St Patrick’s Day festival promotes the best of Irish music, song, culture, arts and dance. The latter category is especially well-represented this year as the St Patrick’s Day parade’s theme is World of Dance. Performers from the lauded Irish dance production Riverdance will take to the main stage on the day, with other acts including the Commitments and Irish folk group Kila also scheduled to appear.

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The London Irish Comedy Festival will also host a comedy tent on the day – entry is free – and the line-up is set to include Irish comedians Eric Lalor, Barry Murphy and Roísín Conaty. Also on Trafalgar Square and in the surrounding area on the day, Irish dance lessons will be available, a food market will sell Irish produce, Irish language classes will be held and the St Patrick’s Day Film Festlval, in Leicester Square’s Prince Charles Cinema, will show acclaimed Irish films.

Beyond Trafalgar Square, Ireland’s national day is felt throughout the city with the parade commencing at Piccadilly at midday and then completing a 1.5-mile route through central London – it passes landmarks such as the Ritz and Piccadilly Circus before arriving at Whitehall. Numerous London and Irish dance groups will participate, and the parade is also set to feature pageantry, floats, marching bands and sports clubs.

Official celebrations at Trafalgar Square end at around 6pm but you can expect various bars and restaurants in Soho and around to host special events well into the evening.

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The St Patrick’s ‘Shindig’ on the Thames takes place on the HMS President at Victoria Embankment on March 14. It will feature live traditional Irish music, dancing and drinking on the river.

On St Patrick’s Day itself, “the best St Patrick’s Day party in London” takes place at the London Irish Centre in Camden. It again features traditional Irish music and dancing, as well as the “Big Irish Quiz”. It’s always a sell-out so it’s worth securing £10 tickets early.

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