Nottingham’s St Patrick’s Day Festival has one of the few Parade celebrations in the country that is actually, by tradition, on St Patrick’s day.

The ten-day Festival begins on Wednesday March 8 and culminates with a city centre Parade led by County Fermanagh representatives, as the Lead County on the day, Friday March 17, St Patrick’s Day.

This is the 18th St Patrick’s Day Festival in Nottingham and this year the celebrations will raise funds for Emmanuel House in Hockley as the independent charity and support centre marks its 40th year of helping vulnerable and marginalised adults.

This year’s Parade is proudly led by Chief Marshalls Eileen Dowling and Siobhan Begley both from County Fermanagh. Marching bands from across the city and organisations from the Irish community assemble at the junction of Thurland Street and Pelham Street and will arrive in the Old Market Square at 12.30pm for an afternoon of live music and dancing. There will be a selection of Irish food on offer, market stalls of Irish goods, the Lough Erne Bar Bus (London Transport Bus) and a chance to learn about County Fermanagh from its Civic and Tourist Representatives.

A civic reception at Nottingham Council House hosted by the Lord Mayor, Coun Mohammned Saghir, officially opens the celebrations on Thursday March 16 and welcomes to the Nottingham city our guests from County Fermanagh and Omagh District Council,  Cllr John Coyle, Cllr Thomas O’Reilly , Cllr Chris Smyth ,Tourist Development Officer Edward McGovern, and Tanya Cathcart, Marketing Manager, Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism. We also welcome Terry O’Sullivan, Irish Embassy Customs and Revenue Attache.

Nottingham Irish Studies Group kicks off the Festival on March 8 at Five Leaves Bookshop in Long Row and over the next ten days there are events in pubs, clubs, churches and other venues around the city, including free live music and dance performances, St Patrick’s Open Day Golf Tournament at Ruddington Grange Golf Club on Sunday, March 12 and the lrish comedy film The Young Offenders Country, set around the real event of Ireland’s biggest cocaine seizure in 2007, at Broadway Cinema on Wednesday March 15. The Festival ends on Saturday March 18 with a chance to watch the Six Nations Rugby match Ireland v England at various venues.

Tom Flynn, Chairman of the Nottingham St Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade, said: “This is a time for everyone to celebrate everything that is great about Ireland and St Patrick and there is enough going on in the city to keep us all busy. We welcome everyone to Nottingham and the Old Market Square to enjoy St Patrick’s Day and join in another one of our Festivals, now in its 18th year.

“This year we are pleased to be supporting Emmanuel House as our Festival chosen Charity Partner as it marks its 40th anniversary in Nottingham.”

He paid tribute to Elaine Marren, who thought of and initiated Nottingham’s first St Patrick’s Day celebrations in 2000, for her hard work and dedication over 18 years. Elaine retires from the organising committee after this year’s Festival.

“Generations of Irish people in Nottingham owe Elaine a lot , which she can be proud of. As we look to prepare for the 19th
 St Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival we are always and urgently looking for help and support from other people to join the organising committee, volunteer on the day and ensure a strong future for the city’s St Patrick Day celebrations. Any help in raising funds including sponsorships and donations are very much appreciated to build up reserves for next year’s events, ” Mr Flynn said.

Denis Tully, Chief Executive of Emmanuel House, said:  “We very much appreciate the on-going support from Nottingham’s Irish Community and the contribution from this year’s St Patrick’s Day festivities recognises the work and achievements of Emmanuel House over the past 40 years. It will be a great boost to us as we go forward. We wish the Festival organisers all the very best for this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations.”

This Friday (March 10) the two Joint Marshalls of the Nottingham St Patrick’s Day Parade Eileen Dowling and Siobhan Begley will present Shamrock to the Lord Mayor of Nottingham Cllr Mohammed Saghir.

Eileen and Siobhan are both from County Fermanagh and its the twinned County with Nottinghamshire for the 18th St Patrick’s Day Festival and Parade. Both Eileen and Siobhan will be joined at the presentation by Representatives of Emmanuel House , which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and is the chosen Charity Partner for the Nottingham St Patrick’s Festival and Parade celebrations.

Piping the party into the Lord Mayors chambers will be piper John St John.