Derry 2022 to be year of festivals as St Patrick’s Day parade, Clipper Maritime, Jazz Fest and About Us get green light

Plans for the return of the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade in 2022, after a two year break due to the pandemic, have been approved in a milestone marking a return to form for the City of Culture.

By Brendan McDaid
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 8:49 am

The proposals for the on street celebration, which will go ahead subject to Covid guidance, were discussed at the Guildhall, and were warmly welcomed by local representatives, on Tuesday evening.

The St Patrick’s Day parade on Thursday, March 17 2022 will mark the first large scale parade to be held in Derry since the pandemic.

It was in March 2020 just days before the St Patrick’s Day celebrations that Derry & Strabane Council and local bars took the initiative and decided to call off the parade and close their doors before any formal guidance had been issued from the government. The decision was taken to keep people across the city and region safe as the coronavirus began to make its presence felt here.

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A previous St. Patrick's Day Spring Carnival makes it's way through Derry city centre.

Council’s Head of Culture, Aeidin McCarter, told members of the Business & Culture Committee on Tuesday that the return of the parade was the next stage in the phasing in of public events and that measures will be in place to ensure the safe delivery of the programme.

It follows the successful delivery of the City’s annual Halloween celebrations, which were redesigned this year with a major focus on public safety.

The Committee heard that Council’s Festival and Events team would now progress plans in partnership with the North West Carnival Initiative as part of their Service Level Agreement with Council. The parade event will involve 500 participants from throughout the city’s neighbourhood areas, with an open call and targeted engagement programmes aimed at supporting local communities.

The Parade will happen in tandem with a major outdoor event already confirmed for the City taking place over a week in mid-March. About Us, which is created by 59 Productions Collective as part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, will be a large-scale public event that takes audiences on a journey through 13.8 billion years of history from the Big Bang to the present day.

The live show will transform the area in and around the city centre into a vast canvas featuring bespoke animations, cutting-edge projection mapping live shows and multimedia installations with animation, poetry, original music and live performance. More information can be found by visiting www.aboutus.earthWelcoming the plans, Chair of the Business and Culture Committee, Councillor Conor Heaney, said it would be a major boost for local businesses. “If we look back at 2019, St Patrick’s was the first major event to be postponed due to the pandemic and I think people then began to realise the seriousness of the situation. The tragic events as they were unfolding around the world had reached our shores, and local businesses and Council responded swiftly to protect the public, with the postponement of the Spring Carnival and the closure of local venues. Looking back no one could have imagined that we would still be impacted by Covid19 as we near the end of 2021.

“Those same businesses will be delighted to see the return of our annual events programme, and to see two major events running in tandem throughout the week of St Patrick’s is an additional bonus and very positive news for the local economy. I am confident following the successful delivery of our Halloween celebrations last weekend that safety will be prioritised and that this event can be delivered safely and responsibly in an outdoor setting. I look more to hearing more about the programme as the details are finalised in the coming weeks and months.”

The Committee were reassured that About Us would complement the Spring Carnival events, and would not affect the main parade route through the City Centre. Members approved the allocation of £106,000 for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations, £30,000 of which will go towards festivities in Strabane.

Later in the meeting the Committee also approved the wider Festival and Events programme for 2022, which features several milestone events, including the Illuminating the Walled City project in February, the innovative Our Place in Space trail in April designed by Oliver Jeffers as part of UNBOXED, the City of Derry Jazz Festival in May, Summer Jamm in June and the Foyle Maritime Festival in July.