Samba Band to bring the sunshine to St Patrick’s spring celebrations
10 March 2023
The temperatures might still be on the chilly side, but one local group is hoping to bring some much needed Brazilian heat to this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Derry, with a celebration of all things Samba.
The NW Carnival Samba Band will be bringing the beats to the streets as part of the Derry Spring Carnival Parade, which will spread its magic through the City Centre on Friday March 17th, leaving Bishop Street at 3pm. The Spring Carnival programme is delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council, and the North West Carnival Initiative will once again lead on the fabulous parade element, working with schools and clubs to create props and costumes in the build up to the huge on street event.
This will be the second major outing for the Samba band, who made their festival debut to the delight of the crowds in Derry’s world famous Halloween Carnival parade last year.
There are up to 20 musicians, depending on the event, and the group includes people with a broad range of ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds, as Nathan McCrossan, a drummer and coordinator with the band explains. “The Samba Band has really grown from strength to strength since it first started, and now we have members from Italy and Malaysia – we even have entire families involved.
“We practice semi-regularly every Tuesday evening with additional practices before events. A special thanks has to go to North West Carnival Initiative for sharing their space with us for practices and for bringing us all together to begin with. The practices are curated and led by local drumming legend Sean Feeney.”
The St Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival Parade will provide another opportunity for the group to showcase their skills and spread some Samba vibes to the tens of thousands expected to turn out for the celebrations. Nathan hopes the crowds will get caught up in the performance on the big day.
“We all love the things that come along with taking part in community events that most people who don't wouldn't immediately think of. Yes, there's the event itself, and we all love the fact when drumming in a parade it's a new set of faces every 10 ten steps, we have fun, we make people smile and sometimes involuntarily awkwardly bob their heads because the sounds of the drums is doing it to them - people can't not get involved.
“Outside of event performances it's this collection of different people coming together, interacting with each other, learning a new skill, shooting out ideas on what we can do on a certain piece, overcoming fears and allowing ourselves to not take things too seriously and just have a good time. Beating a drum can also be very therapeutic and that is just a bonus on top of everything else we love about it.
“We're looking forward to having a good time and giving the parade watchers a good time. We’ve been practicing a few new pieces and it’s been coming together really well, so we're looking forward to maybe showing those off and ultimately building our own skills individually and as a group.”
This year’s St Patrick’s Spring Carnival celebrations have a strong environmental focus, and the NW Carnival Initiative will use the elements of nature - Fire, Air, Earth and Water - to creatively highlight the significance of recycling and reusing, reducing waste and the positive impact this can have on our environment for future generations.
The parade will feature hundreds of local community, arts, and sports groups as well as schools who will be joining the Samba Band for a cultural extravaganza of music and dance.
Find out more about the full programme of events at derrystrabane.com/springcarnival