ORGANISERS are predicting the biggest St Patrick's Day celebrations ever as the number of foreign visitors is boosted by The Gathering.
More than 6,000 people, from as far away as Malaysia and Mexico, have responded to invitations from festival planners and the Gathering to take part in a 'people's parade' before the main procession through the capital tomorrow.
The theme of this year's St Patrick's Festival is 'Great things happen when we get together'.
Research indicates that the St Patrick's Festival adds €43.7m to the economy in spending by tourists. This rises to over €50m when the local spend is included.
As scores of visitors flew into the city yesterday for the parade, the man himself, St Patrick, sailed up the River Liffey in an inflatable dinghy.
Expect to see him, complete with towering staff and mitre, greeting the crowds lining the streets for a feast of pageantry, which begins at noon and goes on for over two hours.
The people's parade starts at 11am and will stretch over 3km as families, friends, and societies from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, Egypt and 40 other countries march through the city, interspersed with bands and other entertainers.
The parade begins on Parnell Square and winds its way down O'Connell Street, Westmoreland Street and Dame Street, before finishing just past St Patrick's Cathedral.
But the festival is much more than the parade. Families will also love the SuperValu Big Day Out from noon until 6pm today – a street carnival bursting with colour, street performances, theatrics, Irish-language events, workshops, fun zones, music, open-air shows and more, all in the Georgian surroundings of Merrion Square.
Keep an eye out for Circa Rum Ba Ba's Dress Circle – a lady in a giant, sumptuous dress, whose skirt is full of theatrical surprises.
And be sure not to miss the explosion of sound, colour and movement from the awe-inspiring aerialists PaperDolls.
Other attractions include a 'Real Food' zone, where children can create their own little work of food art; the SFI Science Zone; the Discovery Marquee; Creative Kids Lab and more. And for thrillseekers of all ages, two funfairs – one on Merrion Square and the other at Custom House Quay – will spin, whisk and turn you upside down. Then there is the greening of the city, which will see the capital's most iconic buildings illuminated green.
Visit the Craft Beer Village at the IFSC to sample the best brews or race in the wake of Lord Mayor Naoise O Muiri as he joins the other runners in the St Patrick's Festival 5k road race.
The parade in Limerick – Ireland's largest regional procession – starts at 12 noon.
Hundreds of kids are to dress up as the patron saint in a world record bid for the most St Patricks in one place.
This year marks the 110th anniversary of the Galway St Patrick's Day Parade and will feature marching bands, local community groups, dancing groups, pipe bands and local business floats. The parade begins at 11.30am and finishes at approximately 1pm.
EMIGRANTS, giant leprechauns, American mayors and an army of GAA heroes will dominate the St Patrick's Day festivals in Cork.
Over 150,000 people are expected to visit the city and county over the next three days.
A total of 65 groups will participate in the Cork city parade tomorrow, with the Lord Mayor of San Francisco, Edwin Lee, as grand marshal. The two cities are twinned.
Events kicked off yesterday, with a series of musical recitals in the 18th-century English Market, and a special street food market will open today.
In Bandon, locals will attempt to set their second Guinness world record in a row for the greatest number of leprechauns in one place.
Last year, the west Cork town set a world record with a total of 1,263 leprechauns on the main street.
KILKENNY will be at its diplomatic best this weekend as representatives from 10 different embassies descend on the city for its inaugural Tradfest.
The city hosts its biggest-ever St Patrick's party with open-air ceilis, music workshops and a traditional pub trail. Thousands of visitors are expected in Kilkenny for a feast of traditional music, song and dance, led by some of the country's best-known musicians.
The festivities kicked off yesterday, featuring the All-American Purdue University Marching Band from Indiana, USA, complete with its entourage of 507 people, 266 instruments and even a 91-year-old big bass drum.
The centrepiece is tomorrow's parade, with hurling star Eoin Larkin the grand marshal, starting it off at St John's Church at 2pm.
The Waterford City St Patrick's Day parade starts at 1pm and follows the traditional route of coming down the Quays before ending at the junction of the The Mall and Parnell Street.
HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly is to lead the London St Patrick's Day parade as part of a cultural and business-networking trip to the capital.
The parade will travel from Piccadilly to Trafalgar Square as part of the London festival.