Belfast to host four days of St Patrick celebrations

Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson (centre) at launch of St Patrick festival programme The Lord Mayor of Belfast Gavin Robinson (centre) launched the city's St Patrick festival programme

This year's St Patrick celebrations in Belfast will be a four-day festival running from 15 March to 18 March.

Former X Factor singer Amelia Lily will be the main attraction at a free concert at Custom House Square on Sunday 17 March, with a parade also taking place in the city centre.

Events will be happening at venues across Belfast.

City Hall will also host a variety of activities.

The lord mayor of Belfast, Gavin Robinson, said the four-day programme would "be a vibrant and exciting time" for Belfast and that the city was "going to be buzzing".

"The carnival and concert have become an important part of the city's annual celebrations and this year we have even more on offer as we welcome the first St Patrick's festival," he added.

"There really is something for everyone with some fascinating events planned that will explore the story of St Patrick.

"City Hall will be the focal point, but events will be happening at venues across the city including Ulster Hall, Waterfront Hall, St George's Market, Linenhall Library, An Culturlann and the Oh Yeah music centre.

"I would encourage everyone to come along and enjoy the free events on offer. "

Snake

David Julien of The Voice fame, folk group Blackthorn and Ulster-Scots group Rightly On, Tir na N'Og Irish dancers and Ballysillan highland dancers will also be performing on stage during the free concert.

Talks and exhibitions, music workshops, dance, traditional craft demonstrations, children's arts and crafts, and storytelling will be among the activities on offer at City Hall.

On Saturday 16 March, there will be a "waste workshop" to create a giant shamrock out of waste and recycled materials.

Belfast City Council said visitors would also have the opportunity "to get up close and personal with a snake and find out more about these fascinating creatures which are a central part of St Patrick's story".

The big screen at City Hall will show live rugby and GAA action over the St Patrick's Day weekend, as well as films including The Quiet Man and Into the West.

Natasha Sayee reports for BBC Newsline

The council said viewers would be able to "enjoy a spot of open air cinema on the lawn with seating and heating provided". A variety of food stalls will offer snacks.

The Ulster Hall will host a ceili with the Cathal McAnulty Ceili band and the McPeake Family alongside singers, musicians and Irish dancers.

There will also be a tea dance, music and poetry workshops, and a photographic exhibition, as well as film screenings of The Commitments and Darby O'Gill and The Little People.

St George's Market will have live themed music and family entertainment throughout the weekend as well as Irish dancing.

The council said the concert at Custom House Square was a non-ticketed event and entry would be on a first come, first served basis with gates opening at 12:00 GMT.

It said a special 'kids' zone' would be created at the Big Fish at Donegall Quay to allow toddlers and younger children to soak up the atmosphere away from the crowds.

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