ST PATRICK’S DAY events across the globe will go virtual next month as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic prevents the usual parades and celebrations from taking place for a second year running.
Some of the largest St Patrick’s events in the world will move online for 2021 it has been confirmed, with Dublin and London leading the way and New York expected to follow.
More than 100,000 people head for the Mayor of London’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations each year - which see the city’s Trafalgar Square and surrounding areas go green for a day of Irish culture, music and craic.
In Dublin, the annual St Patrick’s Parade usually draws 500,000 spectators to the streets of the capital to celebrate Ireland’s national day.
But it is New York that boasts the largest St Patrick’s Day Parade of all – with the historic event, which has been running for more than 250 years, drawing some 50,000 marchers and two million spectators on the day.
All three of these events – and many more across the globe – were cancelled last year due to the onset of the global coronavirus pandemic.
And with the battle to beat the virus ongoing, organisers have opted to move the festivities online for 2021 – so that the Irish community worldwide can enjoy the St Patrick’s Day party safely, from the comfort of their own homes.
London’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations will be hosted entirely online next month, with a range of free events due to take place on the big day, it has been confirmed to The Irish Post.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “London’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations are a real highlight of our capital’s year, so while its disappointing that the pandemic means we will not be able to gather on the streets again this year, we are pleased to be working with partners to create an online celebration.”
They added: “The Mayor urges Londoners to join together virtually to celebrate the contribution of the capital’s Irish community and further details of the event will be announced soon.”
Full details on the London St Patrick’s Festival line-up are due to be released in the coming weeks.
In Dublin six days - and nights - of virtual festivities are also planned, running from March 12 to 17.
And it will all be broadcast, for free, to the world, via a special online television channel.
“While we cannot gather on the streets for the St. Patrick’s Festival Parade this March 17th, we are reimagining how we bring to life the heart and soul of the national Parade, through spectacle, marching bands, pageantry and ceremony, inviting our audiences to participate virtually and enjoy safely from their homes until we can come together again,” the organisers explain.
Confirming their move online, they state: “The presentation of this years’ Festival will be through ‘SPF TV’, a St. Patrick’s Festival TV Channel, which will be located at www.stpatricksfestival.ie and will be accessible globally.”
They add: “A rich and dynamic programme of Festival events, created by hundreds of artists, musicians, performers, makers, creators, arts and live events workers and community organisations across Ireland, will run on the St. Patrick’s Festival TV online channel over six days and nights, marking our national day and offering a joyous and uplifting celebration of Ireland’s contemporary culture and traditional heritage.”
In New York, St Patrick’s Day plans have yet to be confirmed - but they will not include a parade with the usual marching bands, Irish associations and throngs of supporters on the sidelines, Irish Central reports.
Traditionally held on March 17, the New York parade annually draws up to two million spectators to Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, including many police and military groups, firefighters, Irish musicians and student groups from across the US.
With the country still in grip of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers are said to be working on how to mark the day, without endangering lives.
New York’s 2020 parade was commemorated by a handful of marchers who walked the usual parade route, while holding the city’s traditional St Patrick’s banner, in the very early hours of the morning on March 17.
It was a sentimental gesture rather and not a public event.
For 2021, with parades in Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit, among others, all recently confirmed as cancelled, New York is unlikely to be able to offer anything more than a sentimental gathering for a second year running.
However, if there is no physical event taking place, festival fans can expect there to be a special St Patrick’s Day television programme to enjoy instead.
“If we don’t have a parade NBC will do some filming,” parade chairman Sean Lane previously told Irish Central.
“If it’s a very small march in the morning with about 20 people…they will also run some sort of special just to commemorate all the years of the parade,” he added.
So, while we all have to forgo the fun of the physical parade for another year - for 2021 we can enjoy all the online festivities from anywhere in the world.