Luton St Patrick’s Festival is held around the weekend of (or nearest to) 17th March. Celebrating a patron saint of Ireland, the Festival is organised by Luton Irish Forum with a team of brilliant volunteers. First held in 2000, the Festival showcases the best of Irish music, song, dance and drama. Artists and groups from both sides of the Irish Sea, many of them champions in their specific craft, perform on the streets and in the entertainment venues of Luton. The Festival Parade on the Sunday alone now attracts thousands of spectators and Luton St Patrick’s Festival events have become leading attractions in the town’s cultural calendar.
Note: Listings correct at time of press. Please check regularly or get in touch for updates.
Drama: An Ordinary Man
Saturday 14th March at Luton Library Theatre, LU1 2NG
Written by John McDwyer and performed by Gerry Farrell of Beezneez Theatre Company, Co Leitrim. An Ordinary Man takes us on the life journey of a simple sawyer through births, deaths and marriages with a bit of football and ballroom dancing thrown in – just for the craic! Ultimately, we realise that while there may be an ordinary man, there is no such thing as an ordinary life. An unforgettable drama, funny and heart-breaking in equal measure.
Performances 4:00pm & 7:30pm. Duration 75 mins.
Pre-show performances of traditional Irish music and dancing from Galway / Sligo Trad Group in bar area at 3:00pm & 6:30pm.
Tickets £12 / £10. More information & book here or at the Box Office in the Hat Factory T. 01582 878100.
Seán Ó’Riada Mass
Sunday 15th March at Our Lady Help of Christians, LU1 3AG
Pre-parade mass with hymns in Gaelic sung by Luton Irish Forum Choir.
Sunday 15th March from Luton Irish Forum, LU2 0ES
A walking and vehicle parade from Luton Irish Forum to Upper George Street (vehicles) and Market Hill (walking). Counties of Ireland, local organisations and other groups will be represented. Entertainment along the route includes Luton Irish Forum’s own Emerald Pipe Band, ukelele players, steel drummers and decorated vehicles.
Leaves Luton Irish Forum at 12 noon.
Join the Parade enquiry.
Trad & Country
Sunday 15th March on Market Hill Outdoor Stage, LU1 2AF
MC: Gerry Byrne, host on IrishRadio.org. 10:30am-3:00pm
Comhaltas – traditional Irish music and dancing. 11.00am-12:00pm
Olivia Douglas – multi-award winning vocalist & accordionist. 12:50-1:15pm
John McNicholl – Irish World and Hot Country Award winner 1:30pm-2:30pm
Olivia Douglas and John McNicholl – Olivia and John performing together for Luton St Patrick’s Festival! 2:30pm-3:00pm
Irish Dancing (and more!) Showcase
Sunday 15th March on The Mall Indoor Stage, Smith’s Square
MC: Jim Carway, DJ and host of Luton Irish Live Show, Diverse FM. 10:30am-3:30pm.
The Wilsons Show – rock ‘n’ roll, country & party hits. 11:00am
The Walshe Academy of Irish Dancing – 11:30am
The Tiersha Academy Irish dancing – 12:00pm
Murphy Flaherty School of Irish Dancing – 12:25pm
Cardinal Newman School Choir – 12:55pm
Finbarr Conway Academy of Irish Dancing – 1:20pm
St Martin De Porres Primary School Choir – 1:50pm
Luton Ukimaniacs – ukulele Band – 2:15pm
Galway/ Sligo Trad Group – traditional Irish music and dancing. 2:45pm
Trad, Celtic and Folk Rock
Sunday 15th March in The Hat Factory, LU1 2EY
DJ: Matt Speight DJ on L&D Radio. 3:00pm-7:30pm
Open Trad Session – join in or sit back and enjoy, in café area. 3:00-4:00pm
The Skivers – Celtic rock on the ground floor. 4:00-5:00pm
Galway / Sligo Trad Group – traditional Irish music & dance in the basement bar. 5.00-6:00pm
Galway Street Club – folk rock on the ground floor. 6:00-7:30pm
Tickets: Entry to Hat Factory is free of charge but tickets are required. Book here or contact the Box Office in the Hat Factory T. 01582 878100.
St Patrick’s Day Afternoon Celebration
Tuesday 17th March in Celtic Club, LU1 3BS
DJ: Eamon’s Country Sounds. 11:00am-3:00pm
Crosskeys – Irish Country. 12:00pm
The Wilsons Show – rock ‘n’ roll, country & party hits. 1:20pm
Finbarr Conway Academy of Irish Dancing – talented local dancers. 2:25pm
Tickets £5:00, includes tea/coffee, bread and soup. Tickets available from Luton Irish Forum reception.
Luton St Patrick’s Festival 2019
Choir rehearsals for Sean O’Riada Irish sung Masses
Sean O’Riada Irish sung Mass
‘If there was ever an example of the community of a town coming together it was the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Luton on Sunday, March 16th and Monday, March 17th. Thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life joined in the music, dancing and merriment creating a feel good factor in the town… A huge thank you has got to go to the Luton Irish Forum who organised the choirs, bands, dancing displays and the parade through the town centre with plenty of marshals ensuring public safety for everyone.’
The Emerald Pipe Band
The Emerald Pipe Band plays at many different events including Luton St Patrick’s Festival, Luton Carnival, Houghton Regis Carnival, Remembrance Sunday, Harrow Festival, weddings and funerals and many more.
Places are available for anyone wanting to become a member. Practices are held twice a week on Sunday mornings 10am – 12pm and Wednesday evenings 7 – 9pm. Instruments and a uniform are provided to those that demonstrate a commitment.
Our Bimonthly Cultural Seminars commenced in March 2012 with a talk about Irish Migration to the United Kingdom presented by Dr. Mary Hickman. These interactive presentations continued to attract an attendance of 40 – 70 members and visitors.
Other seminar dates to include:
Dr Ivan Gibbons gave a talk on Ireland 1912 – 22, covering the significance of the Ulster Covenant, when and why did nationalist Ireland move from Home Rule to Sinn Fein and why was a revolutionary independent Ireland so successful as a parliamentary democracy.
Jim O’Hara gave a talk on Anglo-Irish Relations through Political Cartoons, the importance of cartoons as historical documents which gave political and cultural insights into the complex relationship between Britain and Ireland over the last two centuries.
A seminar entitled The GAA [Gaelic Athletic Association] focused on the GAA and its influential role in Irish society that extends far beyond the basic aim of promoting Gaelic games. This seminar was presented by prominent member of the Irish community in Britain, Seamus McGarry with the input of former President of the GAA in Britain John Gormley.
Dr. Mary Hickman gave a talk pro the right of Irish citizens abroad to vote in elections in the Republic of Ireland and spoke positively in support.
Dr Ivan Gibbons gave a talk on The 1913 Lock-out and the subsequent ‘Strange Death of Labour Ireland’.
Dr Sean Campbell gave a talk on the role of Irish ethnicity in the lives and work of Second-generation Irish musicians, focusing on three high-profile acts: Kevin Rowland and Dexys Midnight Runners, Shane MacGowan and The Pogues, and Morrissey/Marr and The Smiths.
Bernard Canavan gave a seminar that explored people’s experiences of and life before immigration with the aid of images of his art work.
Tim Pat Coogan gave a talk on his book ‘The Famine Plot’: England’s Role in Ireland’s Greatest Tragedy.
Luton Irish Forum delivers ‘The Life of St Patrick’ workshops in primary schools upon request. We have also organised other cultural workshops including costume making, flag making, multicultural dance and storytelling.
Cultural Discovery Boxes
We worked with 8 other communities to develop ‘Cultural Discovery Boxes’, a resource for schools and community centres. Communities include Irish, Irish Traveller, English, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Polish, West Indian and African. The boxes are available for loan.
Catching the Boat
Catching the Boat is an online archive that showcases how the Irish settled in Luton and then made their own special contribution to its development from 1940 to 1960. It includes details about the industries in which individuals were employed, their methods of travel to the UK and their uniforms or work clothing.