St Patrick's Day parade: Thousands line Birmingham's streets

The parade The parade started at 12:00 with roads reopening at 16:00, police said

Tens of thousands of people have lined the streets of Birmingham for the annual St Patrick's day parade.

The procession, which included floats, pipe bands and dancers, set off at 12:00 GMT in the Digbeth area of the city.

Last year, more than 80,000 people turned out to celebrate the occasion.

The parade, which has passed through Digbeth since 1996, is regarded as the third largest in the world after those in New York and Dublin.

This year's celebrations have been taking place on the actual date of St Patrick's Day and have the theme of The Gathering, which organisers say is about encouraging people of Irish descent to visit the county, town and or village of their ancestry.

St Patrick's Parade in Birmingham The Birmingham parade is regarded as the third largest in the world after those in New York and Dublin

Pat Murphy-Wright, cultural development officer for the charity Irish in Birmingham, said: "The parade is about people embracing their roots and helps to teach children at local schools about their cultural background."

John Lines, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, told BBC News the celebrations were going really well.

He said: "The weather looks fine and everyone's smiling. Such wonderful costumes - people must have spent all year preparing for this.

"Aren't we lucky in Birmingham?"

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    Birmingham to China and LA flight routes
    • News, sport, travel, weather for Tue 22 Jul
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    Your pictures: Knowle sunrise 09:07: Ed Barlow BBC Local Live

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    Knowle at dawn

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    News on the hour 08:57: Jay Vydelingum Journalist, BBC WM

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    • A government-ordered inquiry into the Trojan Horse allegations is expected to say there was a "sustained and co-ordinated agenda" to impose hardline Muslim views in some Birmingham schools, when it is published later today
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    Warm again 08:03:

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    Good morning 08:00: Ed Barlow BBC Local Live

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