Friday 17th March marks St Patrick’s Day in 2017 and anyone in central London that weekend is, at some point, sure to stumble upon lively festivities celebrating one of Ireland’s most well-known patron saints.
St Patrick’s Parade
At midday on Sunday 19th March, Londoners and tourists are encouraged to line the streets between Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square to cheer on the annual parade.
For anyone who hasn’t witnessed it before, the parade is a real feast for the eyes with a procession made up of marching bands, community groups, pageantry, sports clubs and dance schools. The parade in 2017 will again feature towering life-like puppets, courtesy of master storytellers Macnas.
On the Sunday, Trafalgar Square will play host to London’s St Patrick’s Day Festival.
This year’s event will be hosted by Jarlath Regan, one of the most prolific Irish stand-up comedians of the past decade, with a programme that includes the Late Late Show House Band playing a selection of Irish favourites, as well as performances from Liam O’Maonlai, Lisa Lambe, Jack L, country star Derek Ryan and some very special guests.
There’ll be some Irish hip-hop too, provided by the Rusangano Family, as well as folk music from energetic neo-trad band Moxie. The live schedule is capped off with a huge singalong finale featuring three powerful Irish female voices.
Aside from live acts, Trafalgar Square’s St Patrick Day Festival also takes in a tea tent, community stalls and a street food market. Coincidentally, did you know St Patrick’s Day was traditionally known as the day of feasting?
Sup a Guinness in an Irish London pub
There’s no better time to sink a pint of the black stuff than on St Patrick’s Day, and luckily, guests at the Grand Royale London Hyde Park Hotel have a few Irish pubs within walking distance.
The Royal Exchange in Paddington or Covent Garden’s Porterhouse or Harp are all worth investigating for anyone searching for a genuine taste of Irish craic.
Irish walking tours
Free walks, led by a London Blue Badge Tour Guide, are being laid on to mark St Patrick’s Day at 2pm throughout the weekend.
Friday’s walk begins at the south side of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, before heading to Whitehall on an amazing journey through the changes brought about by the 1916 rebellion. The walk promises to relive the excitement of those times.
Saturday’s walk focuses on Camden, arguably the capital of Irish London. Meeting at Camden Town Tube station’s Kentish Town Road exit, the tour focuses on the area’s ballrooms, pubs, churches, hostels and the characters who gave Camden its vibrant Irish reputation.
Finally, Sunday’s walk meets at the main steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and covers some of the great names of the Irish past as it makes its way through Ludgate Hill, along Fleet Street, into the Temple and concluding in Covent Garden.
St Patrick’s Irish Film Festival
A number of London’s cinemas are screening some of the finest films and animated features to emerge from Ireland, as part of a programme curated by Irish Film London.
On the Friday (17th), the London Film School in Covent Garden is showing a four-hour programme of award-winning Irish short films, including David Naughton’s The Saviour of Dublin City. The first film begins at 5pm.
The day after at Prince Charles Cinema just off Leicester Square, there’s a screening of the thriller Traders, starring John Bradley, known to many as Game of Thrones’ Samwell Tarly.
Sunday (19th) sees Regent Street Cinema lay on a free screening of the charming Oscar-nominated animation Song of the Sea at 1pm, while Prince Charles Cinema is showing the Young Offender at 6pm.