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Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Festival 2011 will kick off tomorrow and take place from March 16 - 20.

Ireland’s literary heritage will be celebrated throughout the festival and, for the first time ever, a short story will be the inspiration behind the festival parade.

The parade will be led by grand marshal, Irish boxer Katie Taylor, the three times world boxing champion and Olympic medal hopeful next summer.

“Brilliant,” by Booker-prize winning author Roddy Doyle, is a fun and uplifting short story about banishing the black dog of depression over Dublin and getting the city’s funny bone back. The short story was used as the inspiration for the parade to honor Dublin’s designation as UN City of Literature.

This year’s jam-packed St. Patrick’s Festival line-up aims to cement the world-class reputation of the Irish national holiday with five days and nights of large scale entertainment for young and old.

Wexford has been chosen as the location for this year’s spectacular National Lottery Skyfest, taking place on Saturday March 19, where firework specialists will be “Making Magic Happen,” using a whopping 1.6 tons of fireworks, 5 tons of firing equipment, 6,000 pyrotechnic effects and the largest pyrotechnic waterfall ever fired in Ireland!

Other festival stalwarts such as the ceili (St. Stephen’s Green, March 16) and Big Day Out (March 20), return following a huge attendance last year.

Irish trad legend Sharon Shannon will play a special performance in the National Concert Hall on March 19 as part of the festivities. This year’s Festival Treasure Hunt (March 19), will also have a literary slant.

Street theater, funfairs and Gaelspraoi events will also be dotted around the city to add to the celebratory atmosphere.

New to the line-up this year is a unique ticketed event, DublinSwell – Words and Voices from the City of Literature, which celebrates Dublin’s City of Culture designation.

Organized in conjunction with Dublin City Council and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, DublinSwell is a star-studded literary, musical and cultural event. Internationally acclaimed Nobel Laureate and national treasure Seamus Heaney will grace the stage for a short reading and Mike Murphy, one of Ireland’s best-loved broadcasters, will be master of ceremonies for the event.

Taking place in an eclectic mix of indoor spaces, TradTrails is another new addition to the program. The event brings the traditional art of Irish music, song and dance to Dublin City through a series of one-hour long seisiúns, where audiences can join in and gig together with some of the most professional, talented, interesting and versatile artists currently working within the genre.

Doyle is excited to see his work brought to life through the parade. “When I was approached by the festival’s creative director, Verena Cornwall, to write a story for the parade I jumped at the chance. The opportunity to see something I’d written brought to life in such an unexpected way as part of Ireland’s largest annual celebration will be very special.  I’ve written a story called ‘Brilliant,’ and Ireland’s leading theatrical and pageant companies will each take a chapter and tell the story throughout the parade in their own unique and colourful way. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Cornwall, creative director of the St. Patrick’s Festival, explains: “The new parade storyline created by Roddy Doyle celebrates Irish people’s resilience and great sense of humor.  Each chapter of the story ‘Brilliant’ is a new artistic commission developed by one of Ireland’s leading pageant companies. The parade will also feature street theatre troupes, artists, dancers and marching bands from Ireland and across the globe.  It is one of the largest artistic presentations in Europe.”
The largest festival of its kind in Ireland, the 2011 St. Patrick’s Festival has involved 18 months of planning and promises to excel itself with the very best of Irish and international performers. Research conducted in 2010 showed the vital economic impact of the 2010 St. Patrick’s Festival, which added €50.5 million to the economy in spending by tourists and Dubliners. 

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Visit our special St. Patrick's Day section