Following the huge success of previous events in 2016 and 2017, The Home of St Patrick Festival will once again celebrate the patron saint across counties Armagh and Down with a global programme of local and international music, theatre, sport, spoken word and spirituality.
The eleven-day festival opens on Thursday, 8th March with a half-day symposium on modern slavery at the Market Place Theatre featuring guest talks, readings and displays.
The full festival programme provides locals, tourists and international visitors with an unrivalled calendar of events, promising to be the biggest, best and most-diverse of its kind in Europe.
Taking in many of the iconic locations, cultural landmarks and sites of historical interest throughout counties Armagh and Down, the festival programme brings together renowned performers, artists, guest speakers and visionaries from around the world.
The programme continues at Down Cathedral on Friday, 9th March with the symbolic unveiling of a 4.5m high replica of the 8th Century St Patrick’s Cross made locally from Mourne granite.
The significance of St Patrick’s influence on the region is not lost with numerous events paying homage to his life, work and teachings. A re-enactment of his arrival in Ireland will take place on March 11th at Inch Abbey on the shores of the Quoile River, Downpatrick, offering a host of family friendly activities including living history demonstrations, live music and free children’s entertainment.
Two guided walking tours, ‘A Way for Seeing’, will provide insight into the lands and terrain Patrick himself would have walked, around Lecale and the Mourne Mountains separately, highlighting points of interest and how the area would have changed since Patrick’s era.
Music lovers are well catered for with numerous key events to whet the proverbial whistle. ‘Celebrate St Patrick’ with a choral extravaganza at Armagh’s Roman Catholic cathedral on March 10th in the company of musician and presenter John Anderson for a reflective and celebratory event with choirs from all over the island.
World renowned Portuguese Fado singer and guitarist Carminho will bring her unique sound and energy to the Church of Ireland cathedral in Armagh City on Thursday, 15th March, playing pieces from her award-winning albums and sell out tours.
The Rhythms for the Saint will be heard emanating from the Market Place Theatre in Armagh on March 16th. Drums from across the world will celebrate the diverse rhythms of life in this show curated by percussionist Mark Wilson.
South Armagh Tailteann Games on Saturday, March 10th. Inspired by the ancient Celtic tradition.
The games will feature local teams competing in ancient sports at Shane O’Neills GFC, Camlough from 1:00pm and ending in a themed banquet.
For a very different experience, relax in the luxurious surroundings of the five-star Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle for Afternoon Tea with Joanna Trollope on March 11th. The acclaimed author will be speaking about fiction and autobiography and answering your questions, bringing to life St Patrick’s important literary connection in Confessio, the oldest surviving written text in Ireland.
Lord Mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Alderman Gareth Wilson, said;
“We are truly bringing St Patrick home with this world class festival programme of inspirational events and experiences. Any who visit this vibrant and welcoming region will enjoy our hospitality and the international standard of culture and entertainment available across the eleven days of celebration.
“We are delighted to be collaborating with Newry, Mourne and Down District Council for this landmark event, providing such a unique opportunity to share this incredible festival line-up in so many interesting locations and areas of outstanding natural beauty.”
St. Patrick’s Day
On the day itself, Saturday, March 17th, celebrate the first light of St Patrick’s morning with the ancient people of Ulster at Sunrise with Patrick. The event will feature song and story casting an eye back to what life and faith may have been like before the arrival of Christianity. Breakfast is included for all attendees.
Throughout St Patrick’s Day, the areas of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough and Newry, Mourne and Down District Councils will come alive with colour and noise as fantastic carnival processions make their way through the major town and city centres. Armagh, Newry and Downpatrick will host spectacular displays, bringing communities from across the region together with residents and visitors in a celebration of local talent, dance and entertainment.
This Year’s Event
Cllr Roisin Mulgrew, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, said:
“This year’s Home of St Patrick programme ensures that our local and international visitors can join with the wider community to celebrate St Patrick in his adopted homeland across counties Armagh and Down.
“With the festival only a matter of weeks away, we are encouraging everyone to log on and book early to avoid disappointment as this astounding line up of arts, food and special events is not to be missed as there is something for everyone to enjoy.”
Unknown by many, St Patrick is also the patron saint of French fishermen and Nigeria. The Food & Walking Tour on March 18th will follow his footsteps around Armagh City, exploring links to fish, Nigeria and Ireland in the 5th Century with specially selected culinary delicacies and beverages. Tours take place at 11:00am and 3:00pm.
After a hugely successful inaugural event in 2016. The collaboration between the District Councils continues to provide an arts and culture extravaganza that provides inspiration, entertainment, and reflection.
The 2018 Home of St Patrick Festival is kindly supported by Tourism NI.