THE people of Manchester are preparing to celebrate the city’s 23rd annual St Patrick’s Day Festival with another spectacular bash.
The two-week event will officially be launched at the Irish World Heritage Centre (IWHC) in Cheetham Hill tomorrow night (March 9) from 6pm.
Those in attendance will enjoy a night showcasing the best of Ireland and the Manchester Irish community through music, literature, language and dance.
This year the Kings of Connaught will launch the Festival before their concert at the Centre at 8pm.
Previous years saw the team behind the Festival welcome Michael Flatley, Mrs Brown’s Boys star Brendan O’Carroll, footballers John O’Shea and Shay Given and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson to the event.
The Manchester Irish Festival continues to be one of the largest outside of Ireland, with a variety of events stretching across Greater Manchester.
This year the popular Manchester Irish Festival Market will be open for four days in the city’s Albert Square during the Festival.
The market was officially opened at 12 noon today (March 8) by the Lord Mayor of Manchester.
Selling a range of Irish goods and produce, the Irish Market is always a highlight of the event.
Also open from today is the Festival-run O’Driscolls Marquee, an event space boasting live daily music where all proceeds go towards the running of the Manchester Irish Festival.
The Marquee will remain open until Sunday, March 18.
Live music on offer over the course of the Festival will include a Charity Night in aid of the St Anns Hospice, a Trad session on Wednesday, March 14 and a Charity Night in aid of Irish Community Care Manchester on Sunday, March 18.
Admission to the marquee is free every day.
Of course the big day for everyone is Parade Day, which falls on Sunday, March 11 this year – marking the 28th annual St Patrick’s Day Parade to make its was through the city.
On the day Canon Tadhg Mullins will celebrate Aifreann in honour of Naomh Pádraig at 10am at the IWHC.
The mass will be partly said in Irish, with the rest said in English, although bilingual booklets will be available.
The Parade will leave the IWHC at 12 noon and will finish at Albert Square at 1pm.
Tens of thousands of people turn out to line the route of the parade to revel in the party atmosphere and join in the celebrations each year.
This year, Irish Minister of State for Training and Skills, John Halligan TD will be joining he Parade.
The Festival organisers add: “The Parade expects to be bigger this year with participants from county associations, Comhaltas, all of the local GAA teams, Irish Dancing schools, Irish language, Pipe Bands from Manchester and Ireland and a tribute to the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena Attack.”
For full Festival listings click here.