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St Patrick's Parade 2014 | © Miguel Mendez/Flickr
St Patrick's Parade 2014 | © Miguel Mendez/Flickr
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What to Expect From Dublin's St. Patrick's Day Festival 2017

Picture of Kate Phelan
Updated: 14 March 2017
The St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin is Ireland’s main celebration of the world’s most popular national holiday. Here’s a brief preview of this year’s four-day festival.

After appointing its youngest ever grand marshal in 2016 – disability rights activist Joanne O’Riordan – the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day Festival is set to break another record this year, having promised its biggest ever programme of events. The four-day extravaganza will involve some 3,000 artists and performers, all riffing on the theme ‘Ireland You Are…’.

Joanne O'Riordan launching the 2016 St. Patrick's Festival | Courtesy of St. Patrick's Festival
Joanne O’Riordan launching the 2016 St. Patrick’s Festival | Courtesy of St. Patrick's Festival

Now in its 22nd year, the 2017 festival is the first to follow the three-year over-arching theme of ‘Past, Present and Future’ that culminated last year. Running from Thursday, March 16th to Sunday the 19th, the newly invigorated celebration has a fresh new brand identity for 2017 as well a distinct mission: to honour Ireland as ‘a culturally diverse, complex and brave society’.

St Patrick's Parade 2014 | © Miguel Mendez/Flickr
St Patrick’s Parade 2014 | © Miguel Mendez/Flickr

Although aspects of the political have been present in past festivals – particularly during the Easter Rising centenary last year – this year’s programme appears particularly attuned to the heightened political climate in which it’s taking place, especially as it relates to multiculturalism.

Speaking on the theme, festival CEO Susan Kirby said that ‘Being Irish today extends beyond these shores, through our diaspora and through the new and emerging cultures in our country today. We want the 2017 programme to showcase an authentic picture of contemporary Ireland, with an inspiring myriad of events that capture this moment in time.’

St. Patrick's Day Parade 2010 | © William Murphy/Flickr
St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2010 | © William Murphy/Flickr

One festival focal point will be Saturday’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, a curated day of performance and panel discussions demonstrating the various ways revolution is taking place in Ireland right now. That evening, the talented musical youth of the country will have their say on the theme, as emerging hip-hop and spoken word artists put forth their interpretations of ‘Ireland You Are…’ in Young Blood: The Beats and Voices of Our Generation at the National Concert Hall.

For some light relief, check out Paddy’s Night In Support Of Comic Relief at the 3Arena on Friday night, where some of Ireland’s most successful comedians will be raising money for worthy causes. In Smithfield on Friday, the beloved Cobblestone music pub will host their own day-long celebration of Irish culture at The Complex arts centre, with traditional Irish music, dancing and food by local restaurant Christophe’s. This year, events will also take place outside the city centre, including a screening of In America at Swords Castle, and the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival in Howth.

Happenings remembers Robin Williams | © Happenings/Flickr
Happenings remembers Robin Williams | © Happenings / Flickr

And, of course, the tried-and-tested central elements of the festival will also remain in place, such as the kaleidoscopic pageantry of the city-centre parade on St. Patrick’s Day itself, following a newly extended route that will finish at Kevin Street; the funfair at Custom House Quay; the city-wide treasure hunt taking in historical sites; the nightly ‘greening’ of key buildings; and the day-long street carnival in Merrion Square on Sunday the 19th.

For a full breakdown of the more than 30 events taking place as part of Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Festival 2017, see their website.