Over half a million (510,000) people turned out to enjoy this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival Parade in excellent weather conditions today. The streets of Dublin were awash with colour as the 2016 Parade, themed Imagine If… was brought to life by Ireland’s leading pageant companies who dazzled with their artistic flair and creativity. Close to 3,000 performers participated in this year’s Festival Parade with Joanne O’Riordan holding the honorary position of Grand Marshal. The Parade kicked off the four day Festival of events and street theatre which will take place around Dublin over the next few days.
In 2014 the Festival embarked on a three-year creative thematic for its principal event, the Festival Parade, each year being inspired by the Past, the Present and the Future respectively. This year, Imagine If…, responded to the Future thematic and marks the final instalment of an exciting creative trilogy. The theme looked into the future of Ireland as seen through the imaginations of the youth of Ireland and resulted in some spectacular pageantry and performance.
Spectators enjoyed thought provoking and awe inspiring creative presentations from Irish artistic groups including Spraoi, Artastic, Inishowen Carnival Group, City Fusion, Dowtcha, Buí Bolg, DIT and Brighter Futures. In what is a first for St. Patrick’s Festival and in partnership with the office of the Lord Mayor and Dublin City Council, the Festival adopted a theme tune. Award-winning Dublin song-writer Pete St. John composed the celebratory tune March to Dublin*. The march is a declaration of the welcoming spirit ever present in our nation’s capital city for all visitors to Ireland’s shores. It is an all-inclusive invitation to embrace and enjoy the history and culture of our over one thousand years old city on the banks of the magnificent River Liffey, a fitting tribute to all the visitors who journeyed to Ireland for this special day.
Two new sponsors, Tayto and Keelings, have been welcomed into the St. Patrick’s Festival family this year. Once again Volkswagen Ireland joined as Official Vehicle Partner with their new Volkswagen Golf model featuring as part of today’s Festival Parade while Ethiopian Airlines touched down again as Official Airline Partner to the Festival.
Bands from the USA, the UK, Brittany and Ireland provided the energetic musical score for the Parade as it travelled past some of the most famous and historic landmarks of our capital city. Ten US marching bands were welcomed from nine different States and brought their individual flavour and style to the Festival Parade.
The awards for the Marching Bands today went to:
Overall Best Band: Shorecrest High School Highlander Marching Band, Washington USA
Sectional Award Youth Band: John F. Kennedy High School Shamrock Regiment, California USA
Sectional Award Adult Band: University of Missouri Marching Band, Missouri USA
Spirit of the Parade Award St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2016: Clondalkin Youth Band, Dublin Ireland
St Patrick’s Day Parade Dublin 2016 Discretionary Award: Essex Marching Corps, Essex UK
Speaking about the Festival, CEO of St. Patrick’s Festival, Susan Kirby said; “Every year we continue to be impressed by the vision of artists seen through their parade creations and performances, and this year is no different. The Festival Parade is a true testament to the artistic talent we have here in Ireland, talent that is showcased on a global stage today as the Parade is viewed by millions the world over. Many thanks to all of those who came along to enjoy the day and we hope many more will enjoy the full programme of events the Festival has over the coming days.”