Crowds flock to returning Luton St Patrick's Festival
Luton St Patrick’s Festival returned in style this year with crowds enjoying several different events in the run up to St Patrick’s Day celebrations on 17th March.
A main highlight of the Festival (12th-17th March) was Parade, Music and Dance day on Sunday 13th. Hundreds of people joined the traditional parade from Luton Irish Forum on Hitchin Road to Market Hill in the town centre with thousands more watching. Irish and community groups, featured alongside individuals and families, marching bands, Gaelic Football teams, a DJ, a drag artist, classic cars and a vintage digger.
Two stars of country, John McNicholl and Tracey McAuley, performed great sets to an enthusiastic audience at the Outdoor Stage in Market Hill while the fast-paced kicks and high leaps of the Irish dancers on the Indoor Stage had shoppers in The Mall clapping and cheering along.
An Irish themed market included not only Irish hot food, soda breads, flags and novelties but Moroccan inspired-ceramics and green candyfloss and jelly.
New to Luton St Patrick’s Festival this year was an ‘After Party’ featuring music genres such as ‘Folk-punk’ and ‘psycho-ceilidh’ from bands Missing The Ferry and Neck respectively who performed to a packed and appreciative Hat Factory crowd. More clapping and whooping accompanied the Galway/Sligo Trad Group and the immensely popular ‘Brush Dance’.
Another new addition to Luton St Patrick’s Festival this year was a GAA Blitz on Saturday 12th March on St Joseph’s playing fields and featuring local Gaelic Football youth teams from St Dympna’s GFC Luton GAA, Luton GAA St Vincent’s GFC and the Claddagh Gaels LGFC.
St Patrick’s Day itself on 17th March was celebrated in The Celtic Club, with three generations of some families partying together. The afternoon event was sold out and the crowd were treated to live Irish trad music and dancing before favourite party tunes filled the dancefloor. Luton St Patrick’s Festival 2022 was rounded off with the LIF centre on Hitchin Road being lit up for the evening of 17th.
Noelette Hanley, CEO of Luton Irish Forum, which has organised the Luton Festival since it began in 2000, says: “It was great to see so many local people out, enjoying Irish culture – and just having fun together once again. We have missed it the last two years and the welcome back was tremendous.”
Festival goers’ comments included:
“A wonderful experience. A big thank you to all the volunteers”
“Amazing day for the community”
“Great taste of Ireland”
“Amazing after the pandemic for everyone to be together celebrating this festival”
“It was fantastic. I am third generation but my da lives in Ireland I’m proud to have Irish blood” “Great craic”.
The 2022 Festival Guide is still available to read online at https://lutonirishforum.org/St-Patricks
The team at Luton Irish Forum is planning already for 2023 and Noelette adds: “Anyone who wants to be involved in planning or helping at next year’s Festival, please just get in touch.”