Record crowds of 100,000 descend on Kilkenny city for St Patrick’s Festival
An estimated 100,000 people visited Kilkenny city over the six-day St Patrick’s Festival, according to the local authority.
Kilkenny County Council also said around 40,000 people crammed into the city-centre to see the St Patrick’s Day parade, which returnd to our streets after a three-year abense.
Basking in the spring sunshine, crowds enjoyed free live music on the Festival Bandstand, carnival rides like the Big Wheel – now nicknamed ‘Kilkenny’s Eye’ – overlooking the city and great Festival Street Food at the market stalls along wiht street shows and workshops.
A highlight of the festival was the American Marching Bands, who performed in front of Kilkenny Castle across the week. On Wednesday the Marching Illini, one of the largest marching bands in the USA, marched through Marble City’s medieval streets before performing to huge crowds in front of Kilkenny Castle. Live videos from the event saw people tune in from the US and other countries and have collectively been viewed 85,000 times, with one video having over 36,000 views.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade itself was a community affair celebrating music, community and creativity. The theme ‘Run with the Wolves’, based on Cartoon Saloon’s Oscar-nominated WolfWalkers was well represented by community groups with a central float by Bridget B Designs the highlight of the Parade.
The Grand Marshal, Irish Paralympian Mary Fitzgerald, led the Parade and dignitaries in the review stand included local TD and Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, and visitors from two of Kilkenny’s twin-towns-Kilkenny, Minnesota and Formigine, Italy.
No fewer than 37 groups marched in the Parade and the crowds lined the street from John’s Street all the way to the Market Yard with crowds near the reviewing stand nearly 10 deep. Spectators were excited to be back on the streets for the Parade and their first experience of a parade for many of the younger children.
Kilkenny Mayor, Cllr Andrew McGuinness, said: “It was an incredible few days, the town was buzzing from start to finish. It was great to see people enjoying themselves again and of course it was great for Kilkenny businesses to have so many people in the City, especially after the last two years. I think it has put Kilkenny on the map as a St Patrick’s Day destination!”
Festival Director Marian Flannery added: “We are delighted that people enjoyed the event. It was great to see families out together enjoying themselves and with Kilkenny Tradfest in the evenings there really was something for everyone. Thanks to all those who contributed and took part and to all the Kilkenny community for getting involved and coming out to support all the events.”