Kicking off the party, as every year, will be the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the Sunday closest to the 17th – in this case the 15th. It begins in Piccadilly Square at midday and snakes past some major London landmarks, including Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and The Ritz. With 32 floats – each one representing a county of the Republic of Ireland – as well as marching bands, performers from traditional Irish dance troupes and sports clubs, it’s a pretty spectacular showcase for Irish culture in London. There will also be innumerable food stalls, an artisanal market, comedy performances, film screenings ceilidhs and special night put on in the national pubs around town to keep the expected over 150,000 revellers on their tapping toes.
Indeed, the theme of this year’s parade is “World of Dance” and all the capital’s dance groups have been invited to perform and get the crown involved in celebrating Irish roots and communities in London. Feeling particularly sure-footed after watching enough performances of Lord Of The Dance? Get along to the Greenwich Dance group’s Céili on Saturday 14th from 8pm, held in the spacious, art deco Borough Hall. Even if you discover you’ve been doing it all wrong all along, a professional ‘caller’ will be on hand to get you back on track and guide you through the steps. Live music will be courtesy of the rambunctious, 8-piece Threepenny Bit, who’ll be thrashing out both modern and classic tunes to keep things evergreen…
Nothing need be unlucky about the preceding Friday 13th either, so long as you make sure to book your tickets to Take the Mike at the Hop Poles comedy club in the consistently Irish-favoured neighbourhood of Hammersmith and Fulham. The comedic line-up for this special evening of revelry include Jarlath Regan, Kevin Hayes, Aideen Mc Queen and Janice Phayre. If you’re travelling a little further South of the city, the O2 Academy Brixton will be hosting Celtic punk outfit the Dropkick Murphys, in town all the way from Boston on Saturday 21st. One of the capital’s best loved, littlest, truest Irish pubs is undoubtedly the Auld Shillelagh in the pretty, hip North London area of Stoke Newington. It might be too early in the year to fully take advantage of their sunny beer garden, but they will be hosting a friendly, lively St. Patrick’s day party on the day itself as well as the usual shindig at the weekends surrounding it. Not to be missed if you’re in search of a London version a country pub from the Emerald Isle.
At some point you might be in need of something more solid in your stomach than Guinness, and the food stalls of Piccadilly may seem like a long way away…Luckily, you can find pretty much any type of cuisine you might be craving in London, including fine Irish dining that will have you smelling the fresh sea air and craving fresh baked soda bread. The Cow, for example, is a centrally-located gastropub focussed on delicious fish and seafood (anything from crab to prawns, oysters and winkles) served in a down-to earth setting. For a meatier menu and some different beers, head to the Harp pub in Charing Cross. Serving hearty sausages as well as a desirable selection of ales on tap, it’s your Irish home away from home, even if just for Paddy’s day.
All partied out? Feel like you have to craic the whip and send yourself to bed? Where better than the super central Amba Hotel Charing Cross, where you can collapse into our ridiculously comfy soft beds and reward your efforts with a raid of the complimentary mini bar too!