Dublin St Patrick’s parade will feature new ‘relaxed space’ for those who find loud noises and crowds ‘overwhelming’

Dublin St Patrick’s parade will feature new ‘relaxed space’ for those who find loud noises and crowds ‘overwhelming’

A NEW relaxed parade space will be introduced at this year’s St Patrick’s parade in Dublin to cater for festival-goers who may find the usual experience “overwhelming”.

Organisers of St Patrick’s Festival and Dublin City Council have announced their new addition this week which is designed to “ensure the St Patrick’s Day Parade is a safe and happy place for all to enjoy”.

Sponsored by Dublin City Council, and supported by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste, with additional funding from Bank of Ireland, the relaxed parade space will be designed to “support the needs of neurodivergent families and individuals, and those with sensory processing differences” it was confirmed.

“An estimated 500,000 people are expected to come out to witness the spectacle of the Parade and St. Patrick’s Festival wants it to be a happy place for everyone to enjoy,” they said in a statement.

“Organisers are conscious that some of the factors that make up the typical parade experience – loud noise, crowds, unpredictability - can be overwhelming and can act as a barrier for access to many members of the neurodiversity community.”

Crowds enjoying the St Patrick's Parade in Dublin in 2023

Located at Bank of Ireland College Green, with access points at either end, the space will offer attendees a safe space, away from the crowded streets from which to view and enjoy the parade.

“There will be extra space to allow freedom of movement to those who need it, additional seating, sensory areas and entertainment before the Parade, as well as different anticipated volume zones within the Relaxed Space for those who want to experience the parade at low, medium or full volume,” the organisers explain.

Speaking at the announcement of the new space, Lord Mayor, Daithí de Róiste said, “I’ve enjoyed coming out to watch the St. Patrick’s Day Parade for many years, but I’m conscious that many families, those with neurodivergent children for example, don’t have similar opportunities.

“It’s vital that we embrace inclusivity and accessibility in a real sense - it’s something that I’m personally very passionate about, and that I have endeavoured to support at every opportunity."

He added: “I commend the team at St. Patrick’s Festival, and all of the partners involved, for their vision in establishing the Relaxed Parade Space, and am delighted to support an initiative that will allow many families to attend the Parade for the first time.”

A relaxed parade space has been announced for the Dublin St Patrick's Parade next month

Additionally, the festival is partnering with AsIAm, Ireland's national autism charity, and Neurodiversity Ireland, an organisation helping to make communities more inclusive of neurodivergent people, to provide as much advance information to make the day as accessible as possible for all.

A visual guide to communicate the details of the event will be available to help families in planning and preparing for their day.

Richard Tierney, CEO, and St. Patrick’s Festival, explained: “The national St. Patrick’s Festival Parade is an experience like no other, a massive celebration of our arts, culture and heritage.

“However, we are aware that some aspects of it can impact negatively on many members of the neurodiversity community.

“I’m delighted that this year’s Parade will have a Relaxed Space for the first time.

“The Festival is committed to creating an inclusive space and I’d like to thank the Lord Mayor and Dublin City Council for their unrelenting support in helping us to make this a reality, to Bank of Ireland for their generous help on the ground, and AsIAm and Neurodiversity Ireland for helping us to navigate what is really a ground-breaking journey.”

Families who would like a place in the relaxed parade space must register their interest via the accessibility page at stpatricksfestival.ie or via email [email protected].