The event

The 17th annual London St. Patrick’s Day parade through central London and festival on Trafalgar Square, welcoming thousands of people from all over to be Irish and paint London green for one day.

My role

Festival Director for the festival and parade, from concept to delivery, I was responsible for ensuring the successful delivery of the event and to make thousands of people have a really joyful day.

The challenge

Closing central London for an afternoon is not the easiest thing, and this includes welcoming thousands to a free event in Trafalgar Square. With a capacity of less than 10 thousand, the Square fills quickly. It’s also the 17th March, so not the warmest. We needed to ensure that we had contingency plans for adverse weather. The Mayor also attends, with other high profile guests including the Irish Ambassador, our Grand Marshal, and the Irish Minister for Finance. It’s a balancing act of the parade starting at the same time as the festival and ensuring that it all runs seamlessly.

What I did

Directed a team of internal staff, production company and contractors to produce the event. I liaised closely with licensing authorities and emergency services to ensure we understood concerns, took on board suggestions and designed the event to minimise disruption to business as usual services.

We wanted everyone involved to have a good time and get home safe and to allow families with young children to young adults alike to join in on the fun. I worked on the detail of how we designed the site, the line-up and programme so it catered for all audiences, allowed for ease of movement around the site for children as well as adults and programme elements were engaging and entertaining.

Oh, and a few days before, we got a few hundred members of the Irish community in London, and a dog, to come to Trafalgar Square, wearing their best green, to form a giant shamrock and dance a ceilí to celebrate the festival ahead. It was a fun joyful experience of ‘community’ right in the heart of London.