It’s the one day a year that everybody wants to be Irish—St. Patrick’s Day! The St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin, Ireland, brings bands from around the world together to celebrate the national holiday with a 2.7 km parade for a live audience of more than half a million people.
“I think that there are certain parades around the world that are the high watermarks for what a marching band can do,” says Dr. Richard Frey, associate director of bands at Colorado State University (CSU) in Fort Collins, Colo. “The Rose Parade, Macy’s and this parade are three of the biggest.”
Colorado State University is one of the 11 bands that completed the rigorous application and screening process and have committed to the 2013 Festival as of press time. Other participating groups include Ohio State University from Columbus, Ohio; Purdue University from West Lafayette, Ind.; Fort Mill (S.C.) High School; Bartlesville (Okla.) High School; Brewster (N.Y.) High School; Spruce Creek High School from Fort Orange, Fla.; a combined band from the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Community School District; the New York Knights of Columbus #126 Pipes and Drums Band from Brooklyn, N.Y.; the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality City Orchestra from Turkey; and Dublin’s Clondalkin Youth Band.
“I was lucky to be able to go see the parade and what the atmosphere is like; the energy there is pretty outstanding, and the students will take away that experience,” Frey says. “They’ll gain a greater perspective and see groups from around the world and be able to see that we’re all connected in that way to a bigger fraternity of marching bands.”
Most of the CSU band’s 300 members are planning to go on the trip in March 2013. They must raise three-fourths of the cost themselves or pay out of pocket, and the rest is being collected as sponsorships by the university’s development office. The eight-day trip will include additional performances and sightseeing around Ireland.
“The students seem thrilled,” Frey says. “The students are in it because they love to perform, so the idea of performing for a half million people on the streets of Dublin is very exciting.”
The St. Patrick’s Festival, with its first event in 1996, is a four- to five-day multidisciplinary arts festival culminating in the famous parade. For more information or to apply for the 2013 or 2014 festival, visit www.stpatricksfestival.ie.