THIS year’s St Patrick’s Festival will be the biggest yet with more than 8,000 people expected to take part in a ‘People’s Parade’ in Dublin on March 17.
Tourism Minister Leo Varadkar officially launched the event this morning and said it would involve the greatest ever number of overseas participants.
The five-day event has been organised as part of The Gathering with the theme: ‘Great Things Happen When We Get Together’.
“We’re really fortunate as a country to have a festival that’s celebrated all over the world, but the best place to be for it is here in Ireland,” Mr Varadkar said.
The minister said The Gathering would have a positive impact on the festival and estimated that it could be worth more than €50m to the economy.
The festivities will include a myriad of events including a road run, boat race, traditional music sessions and a ceili - most the events will be free.
Already 5,000 people from 46 different countries have booked their place to march in the parade with space left for 3,000 more to register on the website.
Edelle Moss, acting CEO of the festival, said that people could expect “lots of wonderful street theatre” as well as music and dancing.
Ms Moss said that one of the surprises to be unveiled at the event will be a giant “hugging machine” to represent Irish hospitality.
For more information a website has been set up at www.stpatricksfestival.ie.