A host of colourful characters were on hand in Dublin on February 23 to launch St. Patrick’s Festival 2012, which will take place from March 16th – 19th. Drawing inspiration from Dublin’s status as The City of Science, the Festival parade and ever-popular city Treasure Hunt are this year inspired by the how, what and why of science.
The launch revealed how Ireland will stage St. Patrick’s Festival celebrations to mark our country’s national holiday, with a fantastic programme of events to entertain young and old over the four-day Festival on the capital’s streets. Celebrating the very best in Irish and international talent, Dublin will come alive with pageantry, culture, carnivals and free entertainment.
The sense of discovery, wonder and amazement of science will be seen in spectacular style on the streets of Dublin on 17th March. With an audience of over 1 million, Ireland’s leading pageant companies will animate a selection of science questions posed by children, such as ‘How is a rainbow formed?’, ‘What makes the weather change? , How is electricity made?’’ and each will present their imaginative, colourful, remarkable and thought provoking creations on the streets of the capital during the Festival parade.
Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Leo Varadkar said: “St. Patrick’s Festival is a fantastic showcase for Ireland and for Irish tourism, and a centre piece of our tourism calendar. This festival makes the most of the unique international profile of St Patrick’s Day. There’s a great schedule of free events taking place over the four days of the festival with the very best of Irish and international talent. It will reinforce Ireland’s reputation as a friendly and fun destination for visitors.”
Susan Kirby, CEO of St. Patrick’s Festival, feels the 2012 programme of events will have something for everyone: “Our St. Patrick’s Festival is one of the largest artistic presentations of its kind in the world and the atmosphere in the city is always electric. This year, we will be hosting some of the best events that the capital has ever seen, with something for all ages, nationalities and tastes and the majority are free! The collaboration with Dublin City of Science 2012 also links us to a year-long celebration and will open up the city in a whole new way for many people, with the parade in particular answering everyday questions in a colourful way. Above all, this is a national celebration and a chance for everyone to come along and enjoy all of the fun of the Festival!”
In preparation for the big day, primary school children from across the country have also joined the fun with discussions based around science questions in the classroom. Responding with drawings, stories and video, a selection of their interpretations will be available to view on the Festival website. Everyone can take part by downloading the resource pack from the Festival website, www.stpatricksfestival.ie, from 1st March. The How? What? & Why? Resource pack explores child-centred answers to the questions being animated by the pageant companies.
Professor Patrick Cunningham, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, feels the theme to the parade and treasure hunt is an exciting platform for Science “What better way to demonstrate the reach of science into our everyday lives and culture than through Ireland’s national Festival. We are delighted to be working with St Patrick’s Festival, combining science and creativity in a new and exciting way”.
This year’s jam-packed St. Patrick’s Festival line-up aims to cement the world-class reputation of the
Irish national holiday with four days and nights of celebration and entertainment, for young and old.
New initiatives have been added to this year’s Festival, such as I LOVE MY CITY; a distinct celebration of Irish culture during the Festival. This special programme of unique, free Irish cultural events takes place in the beautiful surroundings of some of Ireland’s prestigious cultural institutions, venues and spaces in the Georgian Quarter from Merrion Square to Kildare Street. Artists, performers and collectives such as Donal Dineen, Dublin Laptop Orchestra, UNESCO City of Literature and many more will perform on 16th and 17th March.
I LOVE MY CITY headline events will take place in The National Gallery, The National Museum, the RHA, The National Concert Hall, The National Library and Leinster House while city-wide, cultural institutions and venues will also be offering a variety of activities and interesting events that are a must see at Festival time. The programme will also see an eclectic Trad Stage in Meeting House Square, a busy outdoor music and street performance schedule and an Irish Craft Beer and Artisan Food Market in Custom House Quay. On Friday 16th Dublin’s Creative Quarter (from Georges Arcade via Powerscourt Townhouse to South William Street) will be bustling with activity and the best of Irish design & making will be on show. The full I LOVE MY CITY programme will be launched on March 6th, headline events are free but reserve spaces early to avoid disappointment, check www.stpatricksfestival.ie
Throughout the festivities, Dublin will aim to look her best with businesses and venues joining forces with the Festival to GREEN THE CITY, where buildings will light green and proudly fly the flag to celebrate our National holidays.
Other Festival favourites, such as the St. Patrick’s Festival Céilí are back on the line up for 2012. Kicking off the Festival in style on 16th March, visitors will be immersed in Irish culture and craic at this outdoor celebration of traditional Irish dancing. This popular event offers a unique and fun-filled way to spend an afternoon dancing on the streets of Dublin. Expert callers will lead the crowd through dances such as the Siege of Ennis, the Walls of Limerick and lots more.
For a true taste of Irish culture and music, be sure to get to Céilí House Live in Concert (in association with RTÉ Radio 1) on Saturday evening, 17th March at the eminent National Concert Hall. Enjoy a traditional evening of the best of Irish music and song as the specially assembled Céilí House All-Stars Céilí band will ensure a rousing St. Patrick’s evening for all. Tickets are available priced from €15-35 at the National Concert Hall box office (01 4170000 or www.nch.ie).
The Festival Big Day Out (March 18th), set in the heart of Georgian Dublin in Merrion Square offers FREE family fun, thrills and excitement on Festival Sunday and is an inspiring celebration of Irish and international street arts. Taking place from 12pm-6pm Merrion Square will be bursting with colour, street performances, theatrics, Irish language events, workshops, fun zones, music, open air shows and more.
Monday 19th March, the bank holiday in Ireland, kicks off with a scientifically themed Treasure Hunt– The ‘Discovering Science’ Treasure Hunt a free fun trail through a collection of Dublin city’s landmark buildings and venues each with their own science-related connection. Also on Monday 19th the City’s first children’s citywide reading project, run by Dublin City Libraries and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, will conclude with an exciting event at Connolly station. Children around the city have been encouraged to read Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent, by first time Irish writer, Alan Early throughout January to March. A variety of children’s activities including workshops and fun Q&A sessions with the author will take place on a stationary train that children enter through a Giant Serpent’s head. In collaboration with The Ark and The Craft Council of Ireland, the Festival will stage a very special children centric schedule of performance in the beautiful surroundings of The Ark venue in Temple Bar.
Gaelspraoi, the Irish-language programme of the Festival will also feature an eclectic line-up suitable for all ages and abilities. Bainigi trial as, give it a go – that is the motto of the Gaelspraoi programme!
Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Andrew Montague will lead Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the historic Lord Mayor’s coach and is very much looking forward to March 17th: “I encourage all Dubliners to come out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Festival 2012. The parade is one of the city’s great traditions and is an important opportunity to showcase Dublin to the world”.
Street theatre, funfairs and outdoor performances will also be dotted around the city to add to the celebratory atmosphere, alongside an eclectic additional programme of comedy, film, races, walks and talks. Marching ensembles from around the globe will provide the musical score for the Festival parade – bands from Ireland, the United Kingdom and Russia will join U.S. bands from California, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas and Washington to march through the streets of the capital.