Belfast celebrates St Patrick's Day
Published 17/03/2012 | 16:48
Belfast has rolled out the green carpet as St Patrick's Day fever swept the city with its annual parade and an outdoor music festival.
The celebrations focused on the theme 2012, marking a year of special events in Northern Ireland and across the UK, including the Titanic centenary and the 2012 Olympics.
Marching bands and dance troupes were joined by countless colourful floats and theatrical displays, including a replica Titanic, ever so slightly smaller than the dauntless ship built at Belfast's own Harland and Wolff shipyard 100 years ago.
The Titanic Belfast Festival is due to kick off next month to honour the 100th anniversary of the vessel's maiden voyage and subsequent demise, and is expected to attract millions of tourists from all over the world.
Other references to the pride of Northern Ireland included giant versions of local golfing greats Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, who marched through the streets with the procession.
A number of Belfast city councillors led the parade, with Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile at the helm.
Thousands of spectators lined the streets as the parade made its way from City Hall to Custom House Square, where a free outdoor concert featuring X Factor finalist Sophie Habibis and The Red Hot Chilli Pipers was staged.
Elsewhere across Northern Ireland, a Voyage of Discovery-themed parade was held in Londonderry, while Downpatrick held its own special festival in honour of the patron saint who is believed to have been buried there.