You don’t need to be Irish to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. This has been the message of Copenhagen’s annual parade since 2005, and it is estimated that as many as 1,000 people could be in attendance at this year’s event, according to organiser Marianne Green.
The Copenhagen St Patrick’s Day Parade is led by the patron saint himself, once again played by the actor Tom McEwan. For a few hours Copenhagen can immerse itself in shamrocks, oversized green hats and ‘Riverdance’ as the parade parties around the town.
St Patrick has a host of myths and legends attached to his name that extend beyond the classic tale of throwing the snakes out of Ireland.
Interestingly, the tradition of women proposing in a leap year is thought by some to have been started in the 5th century by the saint, after a nun complained to St Patrick about the length of time women had to wait for a man to propose. This might be something to watch out for this year amongst the party-goers.
A cauldron of activity
The City Hall Square is conveniently the epicentre of the parade’s warm-up as well as the start location. For those looking to take part in the parade, event organisers have asked for people to arrive at 16:30 to allow the event to run as smoothly as possible. A wide range of festivities are on offer before the main showpiece event, which begins at 17:00.
Early in the afternoon, from around 14:00, children can enjoy free facepainting, whilst those who may be too old for a painted shamrock can find ample supplies of Guinness and Irish coffee at the parade’s official café. The entertainment on the main stage begins at 15:30 with performers such as the Trad Lads, one of Denmark’s premier Irish bands.
Green is the colour
It should be noted that tickets are not required to take part in the day’s events. Instead, the criterion for taking part in the parade is simple: wear something green. If you forget, you can always buy a hat, rosettes or costume in the parade shop.
The sea of green will move through the streets of Copenhagen (see pages 16-17 for this year’s route) accompanied by a pipe and drum band using the traditional Irish hand drum.
A host of Irish dancers from the Dark Green School of Irish Dancing will be at hand to accompany the spectacle, as well as to distract the onlooking crowd from the slight stagger of certain parade sections.
The parade should last for around 40 minutes and will finish back at City Hall Square.
In Nigeria too
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world, and this makes perfect sense as St Patrick is not just the patron saint of Ireland, but also of Nigeria.
Furthermore both national flags include the colour green, so it is possible to celebrate both nations’ love of St Patrick simultaneously during the parade.
The organisers contend that Copenhagen is a unique place to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, as the combination of Danish and Irish culture creates an environment that is “laid-back and participatory, allowing people to enjoy the atmosphere created by the Danish love of good vibes”, according to Green.
“This has made our parade the ‘people’s parade’.”