Mary Coughlan.

St Patrick's Festival 2021 goes virtual with diverse stories and sounds of Ireland

The programme for the National St Patrick’s Festival, 12-17 March 2021, was unveiled today. 'Dúisigh Éire! Awaken Ireland!' is the theme of this year’s festival, a clarion call to the Irish across the world to throw off the long, dark months and rise to embrace the brighter days ahead. St Patrick’s Festival is made possible through the continued support of the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Fáilte Ireland, Dublin City Council, and many generous partners and funders.

Dúisigh Éire! Awaken Ireland! promises to be a positive and uplifting celebration of our incredible people, our beautiful island, our community bonds, our young people, artists, creators and makers, and our diaspora across the world. The Festival will connect our global family, to mark our national day, through remembrance and celebration, song and story, laughter and tears, exploring the unique ties that bind us as a people. The Festival Programme is now available www.stpatricksfestival.ie. Many further collaborations will be announced shortly including #RTÉVirtualParade with St Patrick’s Festival, an exciting visual arts project with Damn Fine Print and some very special spectacle moments sure to thrill and delight!

For this year’s online Festival, a rich and dynamic series of events are being safely created and recorded by hundreds of artists, musicians, performers, makers, creators, arts and live events workers and community organisations across Ireland. These events will run on St Patrick’s Festival TV (SPF TV), a dedicated online TV channel at stpatricksfestival.ie, which launches on March 12 and runs over six great virtual days and nights, and will be accessible globally. Through St. Patrick’s Festival TV, the world is invited to take a front row seat at St. Patrick’s Festival 2021, connecting our family of 80 million through music, theatre, art, performance, poetry, storytelling, traditional arts, virtual tours, food, culture and much more. The full SPF TV schedule with days and times for each event will be announced in early March and viewers will be able to playback all the events on the SPF TV Player until March 21.

The festival will tell the stories of our dynamic, modern, diverse culture, and uplift and celebrate our proud ancient traditions. With over 100 events taking place across six great virtual days and nights, there is something for everyone at the Festival this year. SPF Óg offers a boisterous collection of events, performances, workshops and fun experiences for families and young people; Sounds is a packed programme of contemporary and traditional music from Ireland, recorded by our finest artists and musicians; Stories invites the world to explore Ireland through the lens of film, poetry, literature, performance and art; while Living Ireland is a reflection of Ireland now, how we live and love, work and play, make, create, remember and celebrate.

In a year when our arts, culture, live events and tourism communities have been amongst those hardest hit by the pandemic, St Patrick’s Festival has channelled more than 85% of its programme funding directly back into these communities all across Ireland, enabling the creation of events and experiences to fill our hearts with joy, hope and positivity, a truly national festival.

Artists and performers set to take part in the diverse 2021 Festival Programme include comedians Foil, Arms & Hog and Michael Fry, legendary poet Pat Ingoldsby, treasured writers and broadcasters such as Marian Richardson, Brendan Balfe and Manchán Magan. If food is your love then check out chef Tadgh Byrne’s series on the history of Irish food, while for the young and young at heart the fabulous Fanzini Brothers and Tumble Circus will entertain, as will iconic storyteller Eddie Lenihan. Take part in some wellness and mindfulness events with Bressie and Michael Ryan and their guests including The Happy Pear amongst others. For the musically inclined, Festival 2021 features some of our best-loved musicians including New Jackson, Pillow Queens, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Mary Coughlan, Myles O’Reilly, Gemma Dunleavy, Sorca McGrath, Gareth Quinn Redmond, Matthew Nolan, Lisa Hannigan, Adrian Crowley, DC Fontaines’ Grian Chatten, Matthew Campbell of The Shamrock Tenors, soprano Mary McCabe, The Breath, Moxie, Kíla and Brían and Diarmuid Mac Gloinn of Ye Vagabonds. Also taking part are traditional performers and storytellers including Donnacha Dwyer, Sin A Deir Sí, Ceiliúradh ó Chorca Dhuibhne, Shandrum Céilí Band, Caoimhe O Flaherty, Ronan O’Flagherty, Naoise Mac Cathmhaoil, Nuala Hayes, Jerry O’Reilly, Dermot Bolger, Annemarie Ní Churreáin and Nell Ní Chrónín. While international guests performing as part of St. Patrick’s Festival 2021 include Welsh legend Gruff Rhys and Scotland’s Brìdghe Chaimbeul and Aidan O’Rourke. Maybe you’ll enjoy some traditional workshops from the Aran Islands like Cleas willow weaving & Aran knitting workshops, or choose from one of the many virtual walking tours of Ireland, from Ballad Tours Dublin to the Galway Food Tour.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin said: “I was pleased this week to announce funding to support the vibrant, exciting programme of events for this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival. This re-imagined programme, Dúisigh Éire! will allow us all come together virtually to celebrate our national festival safely, but also provide us with an opportunity to reflect on what has been a very difficult year. The engaging programme - for the first time ever - will also be broadcast live for almost a full week and includes something for everyone. I am particularly delighted that resources for the adapted festival are fueling arts, culture, live and tourism community activities - some of the worst impacted during these challenging times. Tabharfaidh sé seo deis iontach dúinn teacht le chéile go fíorúil mar phobal chun cultúr agus oidhreacht shaibhir na hÉireann a cheiliúradh.”

Anna McGowan, Interim Director of St. Patrick’s Festival, said: “As we move from winter into spring, people across the country and our diaspora awaken with a new hope, a new shared vision of positivity for our future. Dúisigh Éire! Awaken Ireland! will capture this sense of hope and optimism, presented online this year through St. Patrick’s Festival TV, with a huge range of events for every age and curiosity, celebrating our contemporary culture and those who have influenced us. We recognise a year of loss and isolation, and also one of community action, local and international heroes and the indomitable spirit of the Irish. We really can’t wait to share this wonderful programme of events today.”

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu said: “It’s been a difficult year for so many so it’s great to see that St Patrick’s Festival returns next month, bringing with it so many fantastic events for us here at home in Ireland and for those across the world to enjoy. I congratulate the St. Patrick’s Festival Board and team for creating such a wonderful celebration of our contemporary culture.”

Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly commented: “While we can’t celebrate St Patrick’s Day in the same way this year, we hope to keep Ireland front of mind and St Patrick’s Festival 2021 will be a vibrant virtual showcase of the very best of Ireland’s culture, people and places. We look forward to welcoming international visitors to celebrate our national festival with us in 2022 once it is safe to travel again.”

"While St Patrick’s Festival looks forward to a time when Ireland commences the journey towards reopening, and prepares to welcome the world to our beautiful, vibrant, island, this year we invite all our people to celebrate from home, in support of the tireless work of our healthcare warriors and our frontline workers, who battle on every day to protect our people and lead us out of the pandemic."

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