OUR national holiday, St Patrick’s Day, is a major celebration for Irish people throughout the country – as well as those overseas and the wider Irish diaspora.
While the St Patrick’s Day parade remains the highlight of our celebrations, in Cork city and elsewhere the festivities have grown beyond the parade into days of fun events and activities which celebrate Irish tradition and culture.
This year’s St Patrick’s Festival in Cork takes place from March 16-19 and will see the largest ever parade in its history: 55 groups with 3,500 participants will transform the city streets into a vibrant celebration of pageantry, music, dance, culture and tradition.
The parade on Friday, is part of a packed programme of activities during the four-day festival. From traditional music performances by the Lee Sessions across the city, to theatre, live music, guided tours, an outdoor market and workshops there is more than enough to keep people entertained over the festival.
As the world’s attention turns to Ireland for St Patrick’s day, with iconic buildings across the globe going green to celebrate the day, it is a unique opportunity to showcase the country to visitors and really kickstart the tourism season. Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland are working to position Ireland as the epicentre of the global St Patrick’s celebrations – and as the place to be to celebrate the festival.
Traditionally, many overseas visitors have associated St Patrick’s Day celebrations with Dublin – unsurprising perhaps since the nation’s capital hosts the country’s largest parade.
There is, however, a major opportunity for cities like Cork to attract overseas visitors to come and experience their unique St Patrick’s Day parade and festival, and explore the wider region.
Tourism is a key driver of the local, regional and national economy. Just 15 minutes from the state’s second busiest airport, Cork has the potential to grow as a year-round city break destination in its own right, providing a convenient base from which to explore the many attractions and activities in the vicinity as well as acting as a gateway to other attractions in the wider Cork region.
As Covid restrictions were withdrawn in many countries during 2022, tourism bounced back quicker than most commentators had expected. With Dublin almost at capacity during the St Patrick’s festival, Fáilte Ireland has been working with local partners to encourage visitors to travel across the country, and promoting the range of festivals outside Dublin which have capacity to grow their events and welcome increased numbers of visitors.
Cork City Council has been working with Fáilte Ireland and Visit Cork to help showcase Cork as an ideal location to experience the St Patrick’s Festival. This is reflected in the wider programme of events in this year’s programme – with foodie walking tours from Fab Food Trails, family friendly ferry trips with Cork Harbour Tours and unique comedic dinner theatre experience from Hysterical Histories to name just a few, adding new events to the festival line up.
An exciting festival programme with the parade as its highlight, but plenty to see and do for the rest of the festival – this is a great reason to travel to Cork. Visitors can also enjoy our wealth of visitor attractions and activities, as well as our vibrant local food scene and cultural offering.
While the chance to watch the parade and enjoy the other activities on offer will motivate many visitors, for others the opportunity to participate in the parade is a major incentive to visit Cork. This year’s parade sees the return of marching bands from the USA with two bands from Florida and Colorado. For the teenagers from Grandview High School in Colorado, performing in the Cork parade will be their first international performance trip. While for the University of Florida’s Gator Marching Band, the Cork parade is one of a number of performances at major events – including the opening ceremonies at the London Olympics! With some 350 band members, and travelling with their family and support team, they will account for 1,200 bed nights in Cork – a major boost for the local economy. And of course, their impressive performance will be enjoyed by crowds watching the parade.
Cork City Council is working with Fáilte Ireland and Visit Cork to raise awareness of the Cork St Patrick’s festival amongst international bands and looking to develop a pipeline of bands who will travel to participate in future parades. Imagery, sights and sounds captured at the 2023 festival will be used to promote the 2024 festival to overseas visitors, particularly those in cities with direct air connections to Cork. Cork’s St Patrick’s Festival is a unique opportunity for visitors to join with local people in a joyful celebration of our heritage, traditions and cultures and to experience our hospitality. We look forward to welcoming them.
For full details of the Cork St Patrick’s Festival programme visit www.corkstpatricksfestival.ie