The principal aim of St. Patrick’s Festival, since its inauguration, is to develop a major annual international festival around the national holiday over which the ‘owners’ of the festival, the Irish people, would stand proud. It sets out to reflect the talents and achievements of Irish people on many national and world stages, and it acts as an exciting showcase for the manifold skills of the people of Ireland, of every age and social background.
As the one national holiday that is celebrated in more countries around the world than any other, St. Patrick’s Day is the day when everyone wants to be Irish.
We set out to seize that opportunity, and completely transform the national and international perception of St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. This country is bursting with the kind of creative energy, ideas and enthusiasm required to do the job. Our job has been to harness them, and make our national holiday an unforgettable experience for all.
The first St Patrick’s Festival was held over one day, and night, on March 17th 1996. With a little over four months in which to effect change, the main object was to demonstrate that changes were afoot and starting the process away from “just a parade”. The live audience for the day was estimated to be 430,000.
In 1997, we dropped the word “Day” from our title and it became “St. Patrick’s Festival”, a three day event. The festival has since grown to become a four day festival and in 2001 is was enjoyed by 1.2 million people.
Preparation for the first St Patrick’s Festival used to take only 5 months, but with the growth of the Festival, it now takes 18 months to plan for Ireland’s biggest annual celebration.