St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast

St Patrick's Day celebrations in Belfast

Thousands have attended Belfast's annual St Patrick's Carnival Parade in the city centre in what was deemed the biggest parade in recent years.

This year's theme was 'St Patrick to the future' and the carnival re-imagined the patron saint as a time-travelling adventurer on a colourful journey to the future of Belfast on Sunday.Leading the celebrations was the Patron Saint of Ireland and the Lord Mayor Councillor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir.Featuring a number of eye-catching floats, the parade included a 'Back to The Future' flying DeLorean and a Doctor Who Tardis.Former X Factor winner Shayne Ward performed a free concert at Custom House Square on Sunday afternoon as part of the city's fun-filled festivities.A brand new Belfast song was premiered by a gigantic Beat Carnival Street Choir along with performances from Emerald Armada, Sontas, the Tir na nÓg Irish Dancers and the South Asian Dance Academy.Mr Ó Muilleoir said: "This is certainly a fun, fantastic treat for all the family - from near and far, to Belfast today."We took the future as a theme because it is important that we concentrate on that and how life can be better for all of us. Belfast has really gotten into its stride being seen across the world as a forward thinking, attractive city with many advantages - particularly its young population.'We have shown the world that we can put on a show and celebrate with the best of them," the Sinn Féin councillor added.He said it was a day of unity.Explaining why the parade was held a day early, he said: "What we wanted to do was, because St Patrick's Day isn't a public holiday, let's have an event everyone can attend."All the schools are closed today, there are no places of work really open and I think it's paid off for us."He added: "It's the biggest turnout I've seen in some years on St Patrick's Day, great colour, lots of green, and what really thrills me is that 700 young people, from right across the city, the Shankill and the Falls, are leading the carnival parade."Meanwhile, around the world famous landmarks have been lit up in green ahead of St Patrick's Day.Lights were installed on the Great Wall of China, the Rhine Falls - Europe's largest waterfall, and at Whistler, the famous Canadian ski resort, to name but a few.More than 100 buildings and sites around the world are taking part in Tourism Ireland's Global Greening 2014, to celebrate the island of Ireland and St Patrick.Brendan Howlin, minister for public expenditure in the Republic of Ireland, said "global greening" was going from strength to strength as he visited Beijing.He said: "I am truly honoured to be here to count down to the first greening of the iconic Great Wall of China, or as we Irish call it today, the Green Wall of China."Selfie #Féinín#LovinBelfastgreat Craic at St Patrick's Day concert. Emerald Armada on stage. pic.twitter.com/yCYBvrbIxt— Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (@newbelfast) March 16, 2014

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