MAYOR of London Sadiq Khan has praised the 'open, resilient and lively' Irish for helping to enrich the city over the centuries.
The Mayor's comments came as he announced plans for the 'biggest yet' St Patrick’s Day festival.
Events will take place in all 33 London boroughs this year with a three-day festival planned to celebrate the success of the city's Irish women as part of Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign.
"For centuries, the Irish community has enriched our city, and contributed hugely to its success. The community is open, resilient and lively – all traits that reflect the best of London," the Mayor said.
“This year we will also celebrate the achievements of Irish women in London and I’m pleased to see such a rich cultural line-up over the course of the weekend."
This year's stage line-up at Trafalgar Square on Sunday, March 18 will also see performers - including Lisa Lambe and Orla Gartland - join forces for a special tribute to Cranberries singer Dolores O'Riordan, who died tragically aged 46 in January.
Celebrating the success of Irish woman in London
This year's festival, which takes place from March 16-18, will include Irish culture, heritage, food and talent.
“I was so proud to join Londoners from all backgrounds at the biggest St Patrick’s Festival the city has ever seen last year and am delighted that this year’s festivities will be even bigger, with celebrations in every single London borough," the Mayor added.
Among the events being planned are open-air Irish dance performances in Enfield, jazz in Hackney, music classes in Croydon and children’s art and crafts workshops in Haringey.
There will also be specially-commissioned walking tours, providing a history of Irish London, and focusing on the lives of Irish women in the capital including Countess Markievicz, the first woman to be elected to Parliament.
On St Patrick's Day itself, March 17, a line-up of breakthrough female Irish artists will perfrm at live open air gigs as well as intimate performances in locations throughout Camden Market.
Cinemas around the West End will stage the latest Irish short films, including the British premiere of an Irish feature film comedy, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
The festival was officially launched last night at the Irish Embassy in London by Ambassador Adrian O'Neill.
“This year's Festival, the biggest yet, expresses a diverse, inclusive and confident sense of Irish culture and community," said Gary Dunne, Creative Programmer of London’s St Patrick’s Cultural Festival.
"Whichever part of this great city you're in, you will find opportunities to get involved. Join hundreds of dancers, singers, poets and artists as they electrify London with vibrant Irish culture.
"We are also excited to engage with the ##BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, which allows us even more opportunity to celebrate the boundless creative talent of Irish women. London is home to the biggest Irish population outside of Ireland, and this is when we gather to celebrate!”
Irish female artists will also be showcased through the festival, of which The Irish Post is the Media Partner.
Works from acclaimed artist Pauline Bewick will be exhibited at City Hall from March 1-21, presenting her journeys across Ireland, Wales, England, Tuscany, China and the South Pacific.
The #IamIrish exhibition will also be on display, presenting the work of Lorraine Maher.
Inspired by a persistent lack of representation of the Black Irish experience, Lorraine Maher launched the project #IamIrish to question the concept of ‘Irishness’ and what an authentic Irish identity means for Irish communities today.
Well-known Irish names will also be reciting their favourite poetry on the Tube, with Irish musicians busking on the Underground.
St Patrick's Day Parade 2018
The festival will culminate on Sunday with the annual parade and stage line-up at Trafalgar Square.
Dance troupes from the US will join a colourful procession of Irish marching bands and pageantry at the parade start at Green Park before passing some of the capital’s most iconic locations from Piccadilly to Whitehall.
TV and RTÉ 2FM radio presenter Eoghan McDermott will host this year's Trafalgar Square festival on Sunday, March 18.
The stage line-up, which also features RTÉ's Late Late Show house band, will be topped off with an electrifying traditional music performance from KÍLA, followed by the Big St. Patrick’s Céilí.
As well as a special family zone with games, arts and crafts, there will be walkabout performances based on mythical stories from Ireland including characters like Pirate Queen Gráinne Mhaol and the giant Fionn MacChuaill.
There will also be the best of Irish fare with fresh produce and traditional dishes on offer at the Irish Street Food Market.
London’s Irish community will be central to the celebrations with the Irish Cultural Centre, the London Irish LGBT+ Network, London Irish Rugby and the GAA hosting stalls at Trafalgar Square.
Julie Wakley, Head of GB at Tourism Ireland, who are sponsorin gthisyera's festival, said: “Tourism Ireland is proud to support the St Patrick's Festival in London and celebrate Ireland’s warm and close relationship with our nearest neighbour.
"Last year Ireland 4.7 million Britons visited the island of Ireland and this celebration is just a taster of our warm welcome and hospitality”