13 March 2014
Sydney will celebrate its “Irishness” with a host of green-themed events in the lead up to St Patrick’s Day, on 17 March.
The festivities kick off on Friday, 14 March, with the annual St Patrick’s Day Lunch at the Lansdowne Club. The event created a Guinness World Record in 2006 with 1000 guests playing the bodhran, an Irish frame drum. This year, almost 1,400 guests will celebrate with an Irish feast at the new Sydney Exhibition Centre venue at Glebe Island.
Sydney’s sporting venues are also getting involved in celebrations ahead of St Patrick’s Day. On Saturday, 15 March, the St Patrick’s Randwick Guineas Day will see Royal Randwick Racecourse grant free entry to Irish passport holders for a day of racing, live entertainment and Guinness. Those feeling particularly patriotic will enjoy the complimentary Irish Tattoo Artist branding racegoers with traditional Irish symbols. Also on Saturday, the Greater Western Sydney Giants will add a touch of green to their sea of orange at Spotless Stadium for the Battle of the Bridge against the Sydney Swans. Hurling and Gaelic football demonstrations will feature before the AFL Sydney derby at 4.40pm. Irish fans can purchase a reserved seat in a dedicated “Green Bay” for $25 and receive a complimentary green Giants t-shirt and beverage voucher (600ml drink or beer).
Two distinguished Irish singers will be touring in Australia while their homeland celebrates its National Day. Popular singer Damien Dempsey will perform at Sydney’s Metro Theatre in Marrickville on Sunday, 16 March, celebrating the launch of his upcoming album ‘It’s All Good – The Best of Damien Dempsey’. Dubbed “the greatest Irish singer of his generation” by the UK’s Guardian newspaper, the album is a celebration of his career to date which encompasses six top 10 albums over 15 years. The Irish Academy Award-winning musician, Glen Hansard, will also be in Sydney. A year on from his sold-out Opera House performances as frontman for Irish band The Frames, he returns for a rare and intimate career-spanning solo performance at the Opera House Concert Hall on St Patrick’s Day, Monday, 17 March and Thursday, 20 March.
The annual Sydney St Patrick’s Day Parade and Family Day is the largest Irish event in the Southern Hemisphere and more than 80,000 people are expected to attend on Sunday, 16 March. This year’s theme is “Sydney Celebrating Its Irishness” with floats and marching groups highlighting the cultural richness of all things Irish and Irish Australian. Pre-parade entertainment in front of Town Hall from 10.30am will keep early crowds entertained with traditional Irish music, street performers and a troupe of Irish dancers. The parade will commence at midday on the corner of Bathurst Street and George Street, proceed along George Street, and continue on to Park Street and Elizabeth Street, before ending at Hyde Park near St James Station.
The end of the parade procession marks the beginning of more celebrations with Family Day festivities kicking off in Hyde Park North at 1pm. The main stage will host a mix of traditional and modern Irish music, Irish dancers and finalists in the talent show, Paddy’s Got Talent. Several food and merchandise stands will be dotted around the park, and a children’s area will keep kids entertained with face painting, jumping castles, clowns and animal rides.
The week of festivities will culminate on St Patrick’s Day itself when the Opera House sails will be illuminated in green on Monday, 17 March. The Australian icon joins other international landmarks – including New York’s Empire State Building, Niagara Falls and the Leaning Tower of Pisa – in going green for Ireland’s national day of celebration to promote Irish tourism. The Opera House sails were first lit green on St Patrick’s Day in 2010 to mark the 200th anniversary of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Sydney.
Dress in your finest greens and take part in Sydney’s St Patrick’s festivities to celebrate your inner “Irishness”, whether you’re Irish or not!