Dance Champions lead St Patrick’s Day Parade

By on 10/03/2011 in Culture, News

Six Champion Irish dancers will carry the lead flags at the head of the UK's largest St Patrick's Day Parade in Birmingham on Sunday 13 March.  With nine pipe bands and three traditional Irish bands, the streets will be filled with music.

Last year, around 80,000 visitors enjoyed the celebrations and thousands are again expected to line the streets of Digbeth for the spectacular highlight of the seven day St Patrick's Festival.

This year's parade will be led by a 'Walk of Champions' – six titled champion Irish dancers selected from Midlands based Irish dancing schools, and led by secretary of the Midland Regional Council of Irish Dancing, Carole Scanlon.  Lining up with Carole will be Men's World Champion Conor O'Sullivan, Ladies Great Britain Champion Kirsty Donovan, Under 18 Men's Great Britain Champion Nial McCarron, Junior Men's World Champion Joe Bitter, Under 17 Girls British National Champion Bobbie Trotter and Under 16 Girls British National Champion Francesca Sullivan.

As well as beautifully decorated floats there will be vintage motorbikes, classic cars, steam engines, school groups, Bernese pulling dogs, American civil war re-enactors and the fantastic Willie 'fergus' Finnegan's famous massed tractors.  More than a thousand green balloons will be released for a fundraising balloon race to mark the start of the parade at 12 noon from Camp Hill.

After the parade has passed by, the craic (Irish for fun and enjoyment) will continue at the 'Emerald Fringe' on Bradford Street and Birchall Street with a packed family-friendly programme.  From midday to 6pm, children can enjoy rides, bouncy castles and face painting.  There will also be plenty of traditional market stalls.

This year the HMV Institute is hosting St PatRocks for 14 year olds and over.  Acts include BBC Young Folk Awards semi-finalists Fian, a five piece contemporary Irish band and St PatRocks regulars The Father Teds, with original Celtic sound from The Roving Crows and winners of the Birmingham Schools Battle of the Bands Court Lane.  St PatRocks is from 1.30 - 5.30pm and under 18's need to be accompanied by a parent or carer.

Cllr Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture said: “Birmingham’s St Patrick's Day parade is one of the largest of its kind anywhere.  The festival always delivers a wonderful celebration for all to enjoy and its varied programme draws communities, families and individuals together in a really positive way.  The event is made all the more special by the number of people willing to volunteer their time each year to make it the great success it is for our city.  I would like to wish everyone a Happy St Patrick’s Day.”

Olivia McMenamen, Chair of the Festival Board of Directors, said, “This year's festival and parade celebrates our Irish culture and heritage within this wonderful multicultural city.  This year we have a week of celebration with something for everyone to enjoy.”

The parade will leave from Camp Hill at 12 noon on Sunday 13 March, making its way down Digbeth High Street, past St Martin's church in the Bullring and back up the High Street, finishing at approximately 1.30pm in Alcester Street.  

The festival runs from 11-17 March, with events and entertainment at a number of locations across Digbeth.

The festival and parade are organised by the Birmingham St Patrick's Festival Committee, with support from Birmingham City Council, Lebara Mobile and other sponsors.

For more information call 0121 565 1049 or go to


Media contacts:
Debbie Harrison (for BCC) 0121 303 4476     

Andrew Riley (for St Patrick's Festival committee) 0121 631 6101 or 07968 790 661

Carmel Girling (for BCC) at the  Parade  on 07766 923 352        

Notes to Editor:

Media accreditation - any media wishing to attend the event should register with Andrew Riley on 07968 790 661 at the Birmingham City Council bus

Programme highlights are as follows:  (All events are free unless indicated otherwise.)  For full programme see

Friday 11 March
Festival launch at The Paragon Hotel 8pm (£5)
Irish music and dance with buffet.  Music from Take 2.
Tickets from Anne Tighe on 0121 772 3822 or on

Saturday 12 March
Reel around Edgbaston Street - 1 - 4pm.
Celebrating the tradition of 'Dances at The Crossroads; from rural Ireland.

Sunday 13 March
St Anne's Church 10am, with The Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley.

The Parade
12noon - 1.30pm
The Parade leaves from Camp Hill, making its way down Digbeth towards past St Martins in the Bullring and back up the High Street, finishing at approximately 1.30pm in Alcester Street. A road closure plan will be implemented throughout the day. Road Closures will be implemented at 6am with Digbeth High Street being re-opened by 4.30pm. Closures will be lifted on Cheapside at 7pm and behind the Irish Centre at 9pm.

1.30 - 5.30pm
HMV Institute is hosting St Pat Rocks for 14 year olds and over, featuring Fian, The Father Teds, The Roving Crows and Court Lane.

Emerald Village - hosted at the Custard Factory

South Birmingham College will also host two free concerts from 1 - 5pm.  This year's headliners are Peoples Republic of Mercia - a four-piece Rock n Roll combo, and Dizzy Lizzy, performing Thin Lizzy hits.

Monday 14 March
Traditional Irish Music at The Spotted Dog

Talented Little Jimmy and Friends at The Irish Centre

Tuesday 15 March

Irish Literary Evening at The Old Crown Inn

Irish themed Jazz Night at The Spotted Dog

Wednesday 16 March

Irish Film Night with tea and buns - The Spotted Dog

Campaign and Communications Team,
House of Sport, 300 Broad Street, Birmingham B1 1TZ
Tel: 0121 303 4514 / Fax: 0121 303 4943

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