That’s a Wrap! Birmingham St Patrick’s Festival & Parade Draws to a Close.
And just like that, it’s all over for another year! Thousands flocked to Digbeth on Sunday 11th March to attend the annual Birmingham St. Patrick’s Festival, in partnership with Kiely Bros and the Parade was once again a huge success, despite falling on the same day as Mothering Sunday.
The day began with the Emerald Mile, in partnership with South and City College, a charity fun run consisting of two laps around the mile-long parade route. This was the second edition of the St. Patrick’s Fun Run and all proceeds made go straight back into keeping the festival going. Participants were awarded prizes including £100 for the fastest runner and tickets to see The Vamps at the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena. The fastest runner was Lorraine Marchal with an amazing time of 12:58 and the best fancy dress prize was awarded to Andrew Bennett, who ran the race in an impressive getup – ‘Grandad’ from Mrs Brown’s Boys.
The Parade began at midday, heralded by the incredible Birmingham Irish Pipes and Drums band. It began at Camp Hill and travelled in a loop around Digbeth, led as always by the flag bearers; they included Dawn Casserley, inspirational headteacher of St Paul’s School, Katie Garghan, singer in the Irish Band Reel Note and Siohbán Mohan, editor of The Harp magazine.
This year, the theme for the Parade was ‘Inspirational Women of Birmingham and Ireland’ and many of the floats and parade walkers reflected this. Highlights included Sister Sabrina, regularly nicknamed as the ‘Mother Teresa of Birmingham’ after raising over £1 million for charity being chauffeured around the parade route in a Bentley; the marvellous creations of ‘Off Our Trolley’ arts, including giant puppets depicting famous Irish and Birmingham women, and the Motorpoint’s famous confetti cannon releasing a blast of green confetti in the crowds at various points around the parade. The V.I.P open top bus, which contained guests such as Lord Mayor of Birmingham Councillor, Anne Underwood and The Birmingham St. Patrick (AKA Len Cale). Other V.I.P’s in attendance included Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK Adrian O’Neill and Former MP and Minister Clare Short.
As there were some truly fabulous floats and so much imagination and effort had been put into creating them, prizes were awarded to the best – This went to M & J Mahoney and sons LTD and they were gifted a beautiful glass trophy by the Mayor of Birmingham and St Patrick himself, Len Cale. The winner of The best marching band was Standard Triumph Pipe Band Coventry.
After the parade, the festivities continued at the St. Pat Rock’s Festival which took place in Zellig car park and included live music from headliner and Irish Folk music royalty, Sharon Shannon, kindly sponsored by DP Interiors and Birmingham Joinery. Other acts included viral sensation Conservatoire Folk Ensemble and World Folk band Forró Social. The festival area also included a selection of local artisan food stalls including Greidy’s Wings, Mangiamo and Silver Side Grill.
For the children, there was a funfair, magic show and free music workshops in the Emerald Village. There were also arts and crafts activities, such as balloon modelling, face painting and even a petting zoo with ponies.
The Parade may be over, but activities and events for St Patrick’s will continue all week, culminating in a fundraiser at The Old Crown on St Patrick’s Day itself, starting at 7pm, which will include music from The Holy Showband and James Reidy. Money made will go into ensuring that the festival can continue, so you can rest assured that you’re doing your bit to help ensure that it all carries on for years to come while you are enjoying yourself!
The Old Crown, Birmingham’s oldest pub, is also a popular boutique hotel. They have hosted a variety of events over St Patrick week including an Irish literary evening and a two-hour talk with the renowned Carl Chinn, MBE, about the Irish Connection to The Peaky Blinders which included a meal afterwards. Upcoming events include an unmissable coach trip to Cheltenham on the 16th which includes breakfast, a pint and return transport for £20, and a Father Ted appreciation night on the 18th.
With so many wonderful events, both at the Old Crown and other venues, you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice. Enjoy!