St Patrick Parade Snakes Way Through Downpatrick

THE St Patrick’s Day celebrations 2011 may be behind us now but the memories of the festival and parade in Downpatrick will be cherished for a long time to come. The Saint’s big day was  once again a fabulous success as the huge crowds came out in their thousands from all sections of the community to support the events across the whole day. From early morning Downpatrick was a hive of activity as local speciality food and craft producers set up their marquees in St Patrick’s Square, creating a truly continental atmosphere along with street entertainers and face painters, and the weather duly obliged. The annual pilgrimage walk from St Patrick’s Church, Saul to Down Cathedral was extremely well attended, as was the St Patrick’s Day Walk through the quiet country roads and green lanes on the lovely bright and crisp morning. The inter-dominational service and wreath laying ceremony at St Patrick’s Grave was a spiritual occasion amidst all the festive family fun. [caption id="attachment_21558" align="alignleft" width="267" caption="Market Street was jammed with spectators and they enjoyed the 60+ floats that passed by."][/caption] Celebrations galore were in full swing at Down County Museum with Irish dancing, traditional and folk music and lots of family entertainment. Steam trains brought large number of visitors on a wonderful journey from Inch Abbey into Downpatrick providing a ‘birds eye’ view of this historic ancient town. The Saint Patrick Centre was a magnet for everyone who wanted to soak up the heritage and culture of Ireland’s patron saint on this special day, and the wonderful Voices of Lecale performed songs from around the globe on this truly international occasion. The festival stage entertainment was a roaring success and started with a wonderful dance routine on stage in the sqaure from the junior Star Shine group. They were followed by local artists Shake and Grainne Duffy who proved extremely popular with their own brand of pop and rock. By the time Flash Harry took to the stage the atmosphere was electric and the crowd was buzzing. Everyone was treated to a selection of Queen’s greatest hits and finishing with ‘We are the Champions’ was a fitting choice as the parade arrived into Market Street. The vibrant and energetic cross-community carnival parade showcased over sixty extremely colourful  floats including The Workhouse Studios Sligo, Dr Who and The Daleks by the 1st Newcastle Scouts, multiple primary schools with characters from classical children’s stories such as the Wizard of Oz and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, The Egyptian Flower Garden by Banat Al Masriya Egyptian Group from Newtownards, Red Hugh and two giant puppets along with a cavalcade of Beatndrum Samba Band and Cheerleading Dancers illustrating the hugely successful cross-community and ethnic inclusiveness of this event. They all really enjoyed themselves along with the quick witted commentary provided by Julian Simmons and Maurice Jay who kept the thousands of spectators informed and entertained as the parade worked its way through the thronging crowds in Downpatrick. The entertainment did not stop there as Celtic Storm took to the stage with the home grown talent of elite Irish Dancers and their expertly choreographed explosive mix of traditional and contemporary Irish Dancing which literally blew everyone away. The final performance was left to the Robbie Williams Tribute Act and he certainly did ‘entertain us’. The crowds all dispersed quietly to enjoy the rest of their evening in some of the many pubs, clubs and restaurants which all continued to host their individual celebrations to St Patrick. PLEASE VIEW THE FULL 177 PHOTO DOWN NEWS COVER IN FACEBOOK and FLICKR. ]]>