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Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in conjunction with Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have organised a joint St Patrick's Festival and it's one of the most ambitious events yet!

Billed as the biggest-ever St Patrick’s Festival of events to be held in Ireland or the UK, a jaw-dropping combined programme of more than 100 events will bring the best of culture, music, song and dance to key locations right across Armagh and Down.

For ten full days from March 10, thousands of visitors get to choose from an unrivalled schedule of activity as part of the brand new St Patrick’s Festival schedule – the result of an innovative and exciting collaboration between both councils.

The Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Newry in 2015. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
The Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Newry in 2015. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Bound together by the importance and significance of their locations in the life of St Patrick, his legacy and mission, the two councils will provide an impressive and eclectic mix of theatre, music, comedy, dance, poetry, exhibitions, lectures and a series of special walks and talks to suit all tastes. Speciality food and drink events have also been created to boost the energy levels for those on the go. 

The festival schedule features an inspiring range of spiritual events, many of which draw on the significance of St Patrick and the important role he played in bringing Christianity to Ireland and which allow visitors to reflect and retrace his steps. In addition, thought-provoking tours and church services allow the true meaning of his legacy to be remembered.

Councillor Catherine Seeley, Deputy Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon said: “The foundation of Armagh’s legendary status and its historical importance rests firmly on the life of St Patrick and, with our partners at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, we are thrilled to showcase a superb programme of events which will captivate and enthral visitors from near and far. 

“The breadth of activity and talent on show is outstanding and the programme provides everyone with at least 100 reasons to visit.” 

In Armagh City, The Market Place Theatre takes centre stage to showcase several of the festival’s signature events – including Celtic Spirit, a traditional and spiritual musical celebration of St Patrick which features BBC’s The Voice winner Andrea Begley among others, while Moya Brennan and Connla add to the high-calibre of acts scheduled to perform. 

Music plays a key role throughout the festival, with the Ulster Orchestra lined up for a unique performance at the Church of Ireland Cathedral. The Arco String Quartet will also be performing at the Palace Chapel as part of a busy line-up of stunning live shows and choral events taking place across the region.  

There are also a series of specially-planned events at the Navan Fort & Centre, at the Armagh Observatory, St Patrick’s Square, Downpatrick, and at Down Cathedral.

Councillor Mickey Ruane, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said:

“Many of the pivotal moments in St Patrick’s life took place across this region, whether at Saul church or his burial site at Down Cathedral and we look forward to celebrating his contribution and his legacy with the highest quality offering of modern and traditional musicians, dance troupes, cultural performances and spiritual events for everyone to enjoy.”

Across locations in Downpatrick and Newry, venues featuring top musical highlights include award-winning singer-songwriters Duke Special and Brian Finnegan are high up on the menu, while the spiritual significance of the festival is fully retained with the Pilgrimage Prayer Walk from Saul to Down Cathedral.

Among several events designed to tempt your taste buds, Downpatrick also hosts a special re-enactment of St Patrick’s landing which will also feature a stunning medieval banquet. 

A key highlight of the festival programme includes the crowd-pleasing carnival parades and processions which will take place in Newry, Downpatrick and in Armagh on St Patrick’s Day when spectacular displays of colour, music, dance and entertainment, embracing the theme of “Feasts and Wild Beasts” will provide hours of enjoyment.

The internationally-acclaimed St Patrick’s Lecture takes place at The Market Place Theatre on March 16th and will feature the Primates of the two principal churches in Ireland in conversation with BBC journalist Tara Mills.

A free shuttle bus service will be available to transport visitors between Armagh and Downpatrick for a selection of key events taking place over the course of the Festival.

To download the full Festival programme and for full details of locations, times and ticket prices, if applicable, visit www.saintpatrickscountry.com

 

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