This years’ 2013 Manchester Irish Festival has teamed up with Tourism Ireland and the 2013 Gathering in Ireland campaign. It is expected to attract over 200,000 people to its ten day celebration. The Irish Cultural extravaganza is set to feature over 200 events at 80 venues, making it Europe’s biggest Irish event outside of the Emerald Isle.
The ten day Festival will run from Friday 8 March until Monday 18 March and is being sponsored by the 2013 Gathering, Heineken, Guinness and the Irish Post. Highlights include a Three Day St Patrick’s Parade weekend from Friday 15th March to Sunday 17 March. The Albert Square Irish Festival market is to be launched on Friday 8 march, it will run over both weekends until Sunday 17 March. Whilst a VIP packed civic reception in the Town Hall is on Saturday 9th March, which will officially kick start the weekend’s festival celebrations. Just over 100,000 visitors are expected to converge on the city centre on Sunday 17 March to greet the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade which is now the biggest such Parade in the UK.
The party continues until Monday 18 March with major shows from The Script, The Fureys, Clannad and a whole host of award winning Irish performers and groups.
Major Gathering highlights include a special 'Mayo Gathering' weekend which will feature the 'Connioras' group from County Mayo who will be staging a series of Gala concerts and plays to promote the nine day Manchester-Mayo Gathering which takes place in Ballina from the 1-9 August.
Unlike other Irish festival around the world the Manchester extravaganza does not just celebrate St Patrick’s day itself on the 17th March, but instead it stages a 10 day party, which features a full programme of Irish culture, comedy, heritage, literature, music, sport and theatre. Full festival listings are up on the official festival website at www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk
Tony Hennigan the Manchester-Mayo Gathering co-ordinator said "We are really looking forward to this years Manchester Irish Festival and promoting the year of the Gathering in Ireland and our own contribution in Mayo in the summer."
Kevin Fitzpatrick one of the co-chairs of the annual event added “This year’s festival has a fantastic line up and it looks like being our biggest festival to date. We are delighted to have Tourism Ireland on board as one of our main sponsors and the yearlong 2013 Gathering in Ireland campaign will be one of our main focuses at the celebration. Our Parade was officially named as one of the biggest in the UK by the Irish Embassy in 2009 and this year we are hoping that we might finally get the European title.”
Other festival highlights include the Guinness sponsored ten day Tradfest in Levenshulme village and Burnage which is home to the one of biggest Irish community outside of London. The event will feature a special Mayo Gathering weekend with acts coming over from County Mayo to appear at the event. Other festival hubs which are putting on a full schedule of events include the award winning St Kent’s Irish club in Fallowfield, O’Shea’s Irish Pub in the city centre and the newly opened Irish World Heritage Centre in Cheetham Hill.
The Irish party continues in earnest right through to Monday 18 March with events all over the city, which range from special all day traditional Irish music sessions to black tie dinners and special Irish club nights.
The Festival website www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk is the world’s premier Irish Festival website.
It’s the world’s longest Irish Festival lasting ten days.
It’s a community based festival, run by volunteers from the city’s vibrant Irish community.
It is not commercially led, but has the support of local businesses and the Manchester City council along with some corporate sponsors.
Levenshulme village is one of the main areas of focus for the festival, it is home to the biggest Irish community outside of London. The village organises its own tradfest during the festival, which features Irish music, Comedy & Dance.
*21 concerts staged in its pubs, most of them free
* Special international Photography exhibition ‘Mayo Gathering’ features over ten different photographers from New York to Mayo.
One of the highlights of the festival is the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade which has over 70 floats representing every county in Ireland is run by the Irish World Heritage Centre. The Parade is the biggest outside of New York and goes right through the city centre. It is solely a non-commercial parade featuring different community groups and run by volunteers.
It has its own very popular annual six day Irish community market attracting traders and visitors from all over Ireland and the UK.
There is a large School based free cultural educational programme, which is run by volunteers during the two weeks of the festival.
The first festival was launched in 1996 by the then President of Ireland Mary Robinson. Other VIP's and celebrities to launch the festival include the late Dr Mo Mowlam, Roy Keane, Michael Flatley, Shay Given and the Irish Prime Minister - Bertie Ahern.
The festival has played host to the likes of Shane McGowan, Toss the Feathers, Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Westlife, The Corrs, Van Morrison , Mary Black, Sharon Shannon, Hazel O'Connor, Stocktons Wing and The Oyster Band.
Irish Comedians involved have included Peter Kay, Ardal O'Hanlon, Jason Manford, Tommy Tiernan, Jason Byrne and Dylan Moran. They have all appeared in Levenshulme village during the Irish Festival and a special exhibition featuring those famous faces will take place in the area.
The festival takes place all over Manchester at over 80 venues featuring 200 events and involving just over 1,000 performers.
It annually attracts close to 100,000 visitors to its Parade Day alone.
An estimated 1 million pints of mostly Guinness and Heineken will be drunk during the 16 day festival which takes place all over Greater Manchester.
For more information log onto www.manchesteririshfestival.co.uk.