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St Patrick’s celebrations hailed a success as record numbers turn out in Derry and Strabane

17 March 2018

The St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Derry and Strabane had record crowds lining the streets as a thrilling cast of 1,200 performers braved the cold and windy weather to deliver a carnival spectacular to remember.

In Derry a colourful cascade of characters spilled down Shipquay Street and delighted up to 20,000 spectators who lined the new route to see the traditional Carnival parade weave its way through the city centre.

The 600 participants, hailing from local community groups, schools and sports clubs across the District spent weeks preparing for the big event, which this year had the theme Spring is Sprung.

While it might not have felt like spring, the colour and passion of the performers were certainly met with a warm reception, and the crowds stayed to enjoy the craic and ceol in the city centre – not to mention a delicious array of delicacies at the Legenderry Food Festival.

The Mayor attended events in Strabane, where the extended programme of St Patrick’s festivities went down a storm with the 5,000 or so spectators who turned out to see around 600 people joining the carnival parade through the town centre.

Speaking after the event the Mayor said it had been a fantastic weekend for the District. “St Patrick’s is always one of our most popular days out, but this year’s extended programme in both Derry and Strabane really added to the occasion. It was fantastic to see so many people out to support their community organisations who put on a fantastic display in both Derry and Strabane. I think that’s what makes our events so special, the sense of ownership from the community, and the fact that so many local people are involved in making them happen.

“This has been a great weekend for our local businesses, and the new parade route in Derry and the enhanced spring carnival programme in Strabane had a positive impact on trade across the District. I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Council and of course the North West Carnival Initiative, the Greater Shantallow and Blue Bell Arts groups, in delivering yet another spectacular programme of events for Derry and Strabane.”

Throughout the weekend revellers enjoyed live music, animation and performance not to mention some delicious local fayre at the LegenDerry Food Festival, which attracted a busy crowd in Guildhall Square. Top chefs Rachel Allen and Brian McDermott shared some of their kitchen secrets in the marquee where visitors sampled some of the very best local cuisine courtesy of the North West’s finest restaurant talents and artisan producers.

The celebrations continue through to Sunday when its hoped crowds will come out once again to enjoy a cultural extravaganza at the Guildhall where the Ubuntu Festival showcased traditional music, dance, arts and crafts from across the globe.

You can find updates and photographic highlights of all the weekend events on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whatsonderrystrabane

The Spring Carnival was part funded by the NI Executive Office and the Department of Communities through its Communities United Civic Engagement and Enrichment Programme.