The St. Patrick’s Day Parade

“A Sunday well spent, brings a week of content.”

– ENGLISH SAYING

 As a student of British Studies, you learn quite a lot about English history. In fact, there’s an entire Mount Everest of things you learn about British history and culture, but believe it or not – St. Patrick’s Day never comes up even once! One should think that Ireland’s culture should be mentioned to a certain extent, but no. Therefore, it came as a rather pleasant surprise that I got to go to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade today, the culmination of three days of non-stop partying in London.

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 While St. Patrick’s Day is usually celebrated in Ireland on March 17th, London expands the celebration to three entire days. While there’s an ongoing Irish festival with food, music, and comedy at Trafalgar Square, the highlight takes always place on the last of the three-day-insanity: The St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It starts at 12:00 pm sharp near Hyde Park Corner, then proceeds towards Piccadilly Circus, and ends in Whitehall near Trafalgar Square after roughly 1,5 hours of music, dancing, and cheering.

The parade is just as multicultural as London itself. Of course, the majority of the participating acts are from Ireland or Irish communities and associations in London, but there were also a few Mexican and Bolivian groups integrated, adding to the cheerful atmosphere with traditional dances and music.

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Green Park is probably one of the best spots to watch the groups pass by, since the masses of spectators are thinning out alongside the street and there’s no agglomeration like at Piccadilly Circus or Trafalgar Square. If you’re standing next to a group of dressed up people with massive costumes, expect to be caught on photographs by professional photographers working for news agencies and there’s even a tiny chance you might make an involuntarily appearance on TV. And even the weather was feeling generous today – it rained for a total of five minutes before the sun returned. But since this is London and the weather in London in spring is everything but predictable, better bring a raincoat (please don’t annoy other spectators with umbrellas) and sunglasses.

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One of my personal highlights were the bagpipers. Since my trip to Scotland, I love that kind of music and it created a very ceremonial atmosphere. Then again, I’ve never seen Irish tap dancing live before and that was also very impressive. At first, I didn’t know what to expect and I overheard two German girls wondering if this woul be similar to our German carnival. To my massive relief, it was much more dignified than that. I find it curious that  nations that love alcohol as much as Britain and Ireland do manage to keep their public celebrations completely seperate from their drinking culture and in my opinion, that’s something Germans should do as well. At this parade, nobody was drunk or even carried a bottle or chalice of beer and the ambience was much more cheerful and jovial than at any German carnival parade I’ve ever been to. The music, the dancing, and the getting together were enough to create a feeling of unity and I admire that. Moreover, I thought it was a wonderful idea to include the police and the fire brigade into the celebrations and not portray them as those who dull the atmosphere.

To summarise, it was indeed a Sunday well spent, so if the British are right, this week should bring nothing but joy and I’m very much looking forward to it, since tomorrow is my first day at work.

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4 thoughts on “The St. Patrick’s Day Parade

  1. Hello!
    That sounds incredible! It also looks like the weather wasn’t too bad! It rained here all day…
    The bagpipers look great and the woman on the last picture looks a bit scary.
    Do you know who she is?
    I’ve never been to the German carnival Parade but the St Patricks day Parade sounds like much fun.
    I’m also surprised that you didn’t deal with St Patricks day wasn’t part of your studies but now you lived part of it and that is probably even better than just reading about it.
    I wish you that the saying is very true and good luck on your first day at work!
    Lots of love
    Sophia

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Sophia!
    It was certainly a very unique experience and I’ve never seen anything like this before. Well yes, we probably did have better weather.
    Sadly, I don’t know who that woman was supposed to be. I’m not as familiar with Irish history as with the British.
    St. Patrick’s Day Parades are certainly more fun than German carnival because the people are more considerate and just want to have fun instead of consuming as much alcohol as humanly possible.
    Thank you so much!
    Lots of love back to you,
    Leonie

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  3. Ohh, voll cool! Ich war ja auch vor 2 Jahren (nicht letztes Jahr ^^) am 17.3. in London, aber leider am Sonntag geflogen, von daher noch nicht die Parade gesehen aber echt schön dass du viel Spaß hattest und mal wieder was Neues gesehen hast 🙂 – eine Parade durfte ich leider noch nicht miterleben *heul*.
    Karneval wäre mir ein echtes Graus! Sooo viele Menschen und der liebe Alkohol… Also schön dass du es in Ruhe genießen konntest 😉

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    • Die Parade ist wirklich lohnenswert und vermittelt das britische und vor allem irische Lebensgefühl noch einmal sehr viel besser. Wenn du das nächste Mal um den St. Patrick’s Day herum in London sein solltest – unbedingt ansehen! 🙂

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