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London turns green as St Patrick's Day festival returns

London turns green as St Patrick’s Day festival returns after two years: Up to 50,000 people join procession through capital as celebration makes a comeback after being axed due to Covid

  • St Patrick’s Day parade in London is expected to attract up to 50,000 ahead of the celebration on March 17 
  • Today’s the capital’s centre saw crowds gather in Trafalgar Square after the parade, despite the rainy skies
  • Irish marching bands, dance troupes and pageantry are hitting London’s streets for the first time in two years

The rain and clouds haven’t scared off revelers in London celebrating St Patrick’s Day early as crowds today lined along the street bearing Irish flags, many donned in emerald green clothing to mark the upcoming day.

More than 50,000 are expected to have joined in the festivities, ahead of the day which honours Ireland’s patron saint on March 17. 

Irish marching bands, dance troupes and pageantry are hitting the streets of London for the first time in two years, due to Covid restrictions.

The Taoiseach Micheal Martin has been pictured among the crowds, wearing a scarf with the colours of the Ukrainian flag in solidarity with the war-torn country as the streets grow excited, with family concerts, storytelling, children’s films and other activities are on the agenda.

The Mayor of Limerick was also in the capital to represent the city today.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme during his two-day visit to London, the Taoiseach said that Ireland’s priority is the humanitarian response to what he termed ‘the worst displacement of people since World War Two’, and said the state has so far accepted 5,500 people fleeing the Russian invasion.  

A statement on the Mayor of London website said: ‘Come and celebrate London’s St Patrick’s Day Festival on Sunday 13 March in Trafalgar Square. There’ll be the best of Irish arts, culture, food, music to enjoy, and more, including the spectacular annual parade.

Martin, aged nine, waits for the St Patrick’s Day parade in London today, which is back after a two-year hiatus following Covid restrictions 

Four-year-old Archie and his mother watch the St Patrick’s Day parade in London today. More than 50,000 are expected to join in the festivities ahead of the day which honours Ireland’s patron saint on March 17

Irish marching bands, dance troupes and pageantry are hitting the streets of London for the first time in two years, due to Covid restrictions

‘Now in its 19th year, the Mayor’s annual shindig has become a highlight of London’s cultural calendar. This year’s theme is coming back together, as Londoners and visitors unite in celebrating the great contributions Irish people have made to the city.

‘St Patrick’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the enduring strength of relationship between the British and Irish.

‘Key workers from across London will be Grand Marshals at the event, in recognition of their tireless work during the pandemic.’

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘Amazing atmosphere down at today’s St Patrick’s Day parade!

‘It’s been two years since London’s Irish community were last able to come together in this way. Huge thank you to everyone who made it such a fantastic event. Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!’

People in Trafalgar Square after the St Patrick’s Day parade in London today, not to be kept away by the rainy, cloudy skies in the capital

The Taoiseach Micheal Martin has been pictured donning a Ukrainian flag in solidarity with the war-torn country as the streets grow excited, with family concerts, storytelling, children’s films and other activities are on the agenda

Ukrainian flags blended in the sea of green during today’s St Patrick’s Day parade in London. The Taoiseach Micheal Martin has also been pictured wearing a scarf with the colours of the Ukrainian flag

The parade begins at Hyde Park Corner, then travels through Piccadilly, St James’s Street, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street and Whitehall.

Last year Ireland was forced to celebrate its patron saint on social media after all public events were cancelled, 7,000 pubs were shut and the government called on people not to organise or participate in private house parties due to coronavirus. 

The Irish government had then closed all schools, colleges, restaurants, pubs and other public places.

Six-year-old Seth and four-year-old Helen wave their flags as they wait for the St Patrick’s Day parade in London today. This year crowds in London are invited to enjoy the popular Giant St Patrick and the Garda band from Dublin

A man in a bright green vest fixes decorations to an ambulance before taking part in the the St Patrick’s Day festival and parade in London

The Police Emerald Society during the St Patrick’s Day parade in London today, which parade begins at Hyde Park Corner, then travels through Piccadilly, St James’s Street, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street and Whitehall

London-based Ukrainian Natalia Lesyuk during the St Patrick’s Day parade in London today, wearing a celebratory bright green sash

However this year crowds in London are invited to enjoy the popular Giant St Patrick and the Garda band from Dublin. 

Children’s workshops including ‘camogie games, medal making and face painting’ are promised.

Alongside a ‘great selection of food and drink stalls’, Anna Haugh, International Chef of the Year 2019, will also be running food demos. 

Drummers from the Fire Brigade Union pictured before taking part in the the St Patrick’s Day festival and parade in London today

Drummers practice before taking part in the the St Patrick’s Day festival and parade in London today, which is back after two years

A woman donned in green, the colour associated with the celebrations on March 17, watches the St Patrick’s Day parade in London today

HOW HAVE ST. PATRICK’S DAY CELEBRATIONS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

Observation of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 dates back more than 1,000 years in Ireland.

But, unlike today’s association of the holiday with raucous parades, it was traditionally a feast day marked by a religious service in the morning, and a celebration later in the day.

Participants in NY can be seen above, for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. File photo

It’s since evolved dramatically, thanks to the arrival of Irish immigrants to the US in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Until now, it was thought St. Patrick’s Day observance began to spring up in the US in the early 1700s, with feasts, religious services, and charitable events in New York and Boston that largely mirrored practices seen in Ireland.

New York has long been credited as having the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade, when Irish soldiers in the British Army organized in 1762.

With an influx of Irish immigrants, and a thus rise in Irish patriotism in the country, larger celebrations eventually made their way to other locations as well, such as Philadelphia and Boston.

Recently discovered historical documents from the Florida city of St. Augustine, however, now stand as evidence of the first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the US, with celebrations as early as the years 1600 and 1601.  

In Ireland, St Patrick’s Day modern celebrations have taken off in more recent years, with a parade and 4-day festival for the holiday in Dublin. 

New York has long been credited as having the first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade, when Irish soldiers in the British Army organized in 1762. File photo

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