St Patrck’s Day festivities have now well and truly kicked off across Britain.
Manchester and Birmingham kick-started the party spirit with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in both cities in honour of Ireland’s patron saint.
Manchester was a sea of green as tens of thousands lined the streets for the annual St Patrick’s Day parade.
The event was one of the highlights of the 17-day Irish cultural festival, sponsored by The Irish Post, Guinness, Magners and Manchester City Council.
Representing the Irish Embassy at the parade was Eugene Forde. “It was great to be in Manchester with the sun shining,” he said. “It was a great atmosphere.”
Manchester Phoenix Pipe Band member Kevin Beswick added: “It’s a massive community thing. It’s really important to get everyone together, co-ordinate our community and promote our roots.”
Floats representing all 32 counties of Ireland were accompanied by bands, Irish dancers and an array of vintage vehicles in the parade, which began at the Irish Heritage Centre in Cheetham Hill.
An estimated 12,000 then packed into Albert Square to enjoy the Irish market.
Festival co-chair Kevin Fitzpatrick said: “It takes a lot of time and effort get the floats together but it is great for the Irish in Manchester. There is a lot of history there and this parade celebrates that.”
The annual parade is part of the Manchester Irish Festival. This year’s event runs until March 18 with a gala concert with Tommy Fleming taking place at the Opera House.
The St Patrick’s fun in Birmingham also kicked off last Saturday (March 10) with the annual Irish Post Breakfast at Birmingham Town Hall.
Among the guests, which also included a team from The Irish Post itself, were Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council Mary Harty, Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor Anita Ward and Michael Ring TD Minister of State for Tourism and Sport.
The breakfast, compered by BBC broadcaster Bob Brolly, saw over 100 guests treated to a full Irish breakfast, washed down with an Irish coffee.
There was also a music performance by John and Carmel Burke, with dancing from the Scanlon School of Irish Dancing.
Meanwhile the following day (Sunday, March 11), over 85,000 people enjoyed the sunshine at Birmingham’s annual St Patrick’s Day Parade.
Floats, horse-drawn carriages, vintage tractors, classic cars, scooters and motorbikes paraded through Birmingham, joined by children carrying the flags of the 32 Irish counties, walking groups and marching bands.
Councillor Anita Ward, said: “Birmingham’s St Patrick’s Day Parade is absolutely brilliant. The Irish have brought the sunshine to Birmingham in more ways than one. It is one of the great cultural events that the city stages each year.
This weekend, Sunday March 18, sees London take its turn to party in honour of St Patrick. And The Irish Post will be there every step of the way to capture all the fun and games of the day.
Why not stop by and say hello to the team at The Irish Post’s stall in Trafalgar Square. We’ll be there with lots of goodies to give away for free from noon until 6pm! There’ll also be free face-painting.
SEE YOUR ST PATRICK’S PICTURES IN THE IRISH POST
For all the pictures from the Birmingham and Manchester St Patrick’s Day parades see our bumper picture pull-out in this week’s Irish Post – out Wednesday, March 14.
PLUS…don’t miss our next issue (out March 21) for pictures from St Patrick’s Day celebrations across Britain including London, Leeds, Leicester, Warrington, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Sandwell and more!