London's Irish community heads to Trafalgar Square to celebrate their patron saint – and everyone's invited.
The Irish are ace at partying. So good, in fact, they even have a special untranslatable phrase – the craic – to describe their unique brand of conviviality. They manage to have a brilliant time in the most unpromising locations – your typical Irish church hall is gloomier than Eeyore. So, with Trafalgar Square as the setting for London’s official bash in celebration of their patron saint, a blast is pretty much guaranteed. As it takes place on Sunday March 15, a sizeable proportion of the population (not all of them Irish by a long chalk) is set to be looking appropriately green till at least Tuesday, which is when St Patrick’s Day actually falls.
The parade, headed by boxer Barry McGuigan, will feature pageantry, floats and a marching band. It starts at Green Park and passes along to Piccadilly and Whitehall (from 12pm).
A food market, children's theatre, a fashion show and film and comedy festivals are all on the menu this year in Trafalgar Square, accompanied, of course, by the best of Irish music, song and dance on the main stage. Look out for the cast of West End musical 'The Commitments', 'Lord of the Dance' performers, rapper Lethal Dialect and readings to mark WB Yeats's 150th birthday. To close the day at 6pm, Nelson's column will be lit green. The Prince Charles Cinema is showing free short films on Irish Culture (12pm-5.30pm), and there's a free ballroom dance at Westminster Cathedral Hall (2pm-6pm).