St. Patrick’s Day is popular for celebrations around the world, but the ultimate place to spend the day is right here in Northern Ireland. There is something for everybody and countless ways to spend this exciting time, from fun parades and concerts to seminars and craft days.
There are opportunities for the whole family to learn about Ireland’s Patron Saint upon whom this day is based including not to be missed experiences such as the Saint Patrick’s Trail and Saint Patrick’s Way: The Pilgrim Walk.
Rachel Quigg, Communications & Destination PR Officer for Tourism Northern Ireland explains why St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to enjoy a fun day out with friends and family.
“There is a huge array of events and activities planned for St. Patrick’s Day in Northern Ireland. Wherever you are and whatever the weather, St. Patrick’s Day is sure to be a great family day out, as many events are indoors as well as outside.”
History and legacy
St. Patrick is a figure that fascinates many as his profile is iconic throughout the world, even inspiring buildings and landmarks to turn green in his honour on March 17. For those who would like to uncover more about the history and legacy of this renowned saint, there are lots of activities, trails and walks to try out which will help you to understand more about his life. Visit his grave in the grounds of Down Cathedral or explore Armagh where two impressive cathedrals bear his name.
Follow the Saint Patrick’s Trail through a host of Christian sites at Bangor, the Ards Peninsula, Downpatrick, Newry and Armagh to uncover the fascinating links between Northern Ireland and St. Patrick.
Saint Patrick’s Way: The Pilgrim Walk is perfect for those who like to get out and about whilst also finding out more about the history and heritage of an area. Starting at the Navan Centre in Armagh, this 82 mile signed walking trail takes participants through some of Northern Ireland’s most spectacular scenic landscapes before ending at Saint Patrick’s final resting place, in the grounds of Down Cathedral. Participants can stamp their Passports at the 10 locations along the route and then present their completed Passport to receive a certificate of achievement.
Places to take in along the way include the Palace Demesne, Acton Visitor Centre and The Saint Patrick Centre.
Events all around Northern Ireland
Tourism NI has put together a guide of St. Patrick’s Day festivals and events across Northern Ireland for the whole family to enjoy:
If you’re in the centre of Belfast on March 17, you will not be able to miss the festivities taking place in the city including the annual St. Patrick’s Day Carnival Parade and Concert. Belfast city centre will be awash with colour as the parade leaves City Hall at midday, making its way down to Custom House Square, where a free concert featuring local musicians and dancers, along with special guests, will take place.
The atmosphere will continue in the coming days with a special St. Patrick’s Day Weekend at St. George’s Market, from March 18-20, featuring live traditional music throughout the weekend, special trader offers and lots of family fun.
Get into the St. Patrick’s Day mood early by celebrating all things Irish at the St. Patrick’s Day Festival at Giants Causeway. Taking place on March 12-13, there will be face-painting, balloon modelling and a treasure trail, perfect fun for the whole family.
On St. Patrick’s Day itself, the annual Ballycastle and District Horse Ploughing Championship will take place. A traditional event for more than 100 years, it promises to be fun for all the family with many skilled ploughmen taking part and a great bank holiday atmosphere.
One of Armagh’s key events of the year, is the St. Patrick’s Festivalwhich takes place from March 10-20, opening with a celebratory event honouring St. Patrick through words, music and dance, the John Anderson Choral Event.
Over the following ten days, a wide range of activities and events will take place including an Ulster Orchestra concert in the Church of Ireland Cathedral, a Celtic Spirit concert in the Roman Catholic Cathedral, and one of Northern Ireland’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day precessions on the day itself.
From March 11-19, Newry will be playing host to its St. Patrick’s Festival, a week of fun and frolics for the whole family including a variety market, arts and crafts workshops, musical events and more, culminating in a parade with a Feasts and Wild Beasts theme.
Also, on March 17, you can pay a visit to St. Patrick’s Day at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum where a unique festival of music, seasonal food and crafts will be taking place, with costumed guides taking visitors back to St. Patrick’s Day celebrations of a hundred years ago as well as a themed quiz to be solved.
As is the case every year, the Enniskillen St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be a lively event for all the family with a colourful parade and a family fun day, all happening on March 17.
March 17 also marks the start of Easter Extravaganza at Share Discovery Village, Lisnaskea which will give families lots to look forward to. Until April 3, visitors can enjoy a variety of land, water and art activities in one or two hour taster sessions.
Children and adults alike will enjoy the fun and excitement at Hezlett House as Leprechauns have escaped from the trees of Downhill and hidden themselves around the house. To join in with the Leprechaun Hunt and discover the fascinating story of Hezlett House, come along on March 17 from 10am.
St. Patrick’s Day also marks the beginning of Legenderry Food Festivalin Guildhall Square in Derry~Londonderry, with opportunities to try and buy lots of delicious Northern Ireland produce, with a host of activities such as cookery masterclasses, live music and craft activities for kids.
Omagh’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations this year have the theme “Sharing Heritage and Traditions” giving everyone the opportunity to come out, get involved and enjoy the multicultural atmosphere and amazing display of creative talent on offer.
Also on March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day – The Emigrants’ Farewell at the Ulster American Folk Park. Watch a dramatic re-enactment featuring music and songs of the so-called “American Wake” when thousands of people left Ireland in the 18th and 19th Century.
To find out more about what is happening in Northern Ireland over St. Patrick’s Day or for further information on places to stay or things to see and do click on www.discovernorthernireland.com or visit your local visitor information centre.
MEDIA ENQUIRIES: For further information, please contact Bronagh Cobain of Duffy Rafferty Communications on 028 9073 0880.
Title image: St Patricks carnival procession, Armagh. NI Tourist Board.