St Patrick’s Festival 2017 Armagh

Home of St Patrick Festival :: March 3 – 19 |

Armagh and Down announce the full programme of the Home of St. Patrick Festival 2017, where events take place this March across the two counties synonymous with the life of Ireland’s patron saint. This year’s festival takes an immersive experiential approach – hosting many exciting Irish and international artists that include world renowned writers such as Elif Shafak and punk royalty Viv Albertine while many more artists come together, some as far as Australia, to celebrate the life of the Spiritual Father of our island. With specially curated events to include the world’s loudest drum, choirs, opera, processions and exclusive concerts to the festival, all amidst a bumper programme suitable for all tastes. The festival kicks off on March 3 with the ringing of bells uniting all churches and creeds across villages, townlands and cities throughout the two counties of Armagh and Down, every day at 17.17hours for 17 days. Show me whats on

St. Patrick, the man and his achievements are the central inspiration for this 17 day long festival which encapsulates three weekends of special events directly inspired by the life and work of Patrick the man and held in the landscape once his home: Armagh City, Downpatrick, Newry, Loughgall, Dundrum, Castle Ward, Mourne Mountains and Slieve Gullion. Offering a unique and bold new approach set across the homeland of St. Patrick the festival promises to ‘steal a march’ on the multitude of celebrations taking place in the saint’s name across the globe, by becoming in its newly wrought shape for 2017 the longest, most diverse and wide-ranging multi-arts response to Patrick’s life-story, values and achievement. Events include bell-ringing, billboard art, sunset and sunrise music on druidic mounds, world drumming, international choral singing, ancient games, global spiritual music, cathedral classical DJs, a pilgrim art-walk, a vigil, alongside talks, comedy, film, with the traditional St Patrick’s Day procession and religious ceremonies.

The number 17 is a central tenet of this year’s festival. This is in recognition and commemoration of the Saint’s death, March 17th. Merging the best experiences of Irish and international culture to perform in this country while platforming a specific region as an international mecca to remember our Patron Saint and what it truly means to celebrate his amazing life – a man that was refugee, a slave and where unity was key to his practice.

“We have a terrific festival lineup this year, rich in all kinds cultural experiences for all tastes bringing a wider community together to celebrate St Patrick in his adopted homeplace of Counties Armagh and Down. It will be a magical 17 days with so many events which will delight, inspire, provoke and astound. It’s a year of spirituality and getting to know who St Patrick really was while taking huge strides culturally for the Home of St Patrick Festival. We’re so excited about this years programme curated by Doran-Browne Arts Programming & Consultancy who we trust will help us grow this destination festival on an international scale.” – Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick, Chairperson, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council.


“St. Patrick is one of the world’s most popular saints and within this global recognition we at the Home of St. Patrick Festival aim to ensure that our local and international visitors are afforded the opportunity to enjoy an eclectic mix and thought-provoking range of experiences in his spiritual homeland. It’s very meaningful to us to collaborate with our neighbours in Co Down as partners in this ambitious endeavour to recognise Ireland’s patron saint. Our aim is to grow this unique festival into a world class annual celebration of arts, food and special events honouring St Patrick’s life, all taking place across both counties in many interesting locations and areas of outstanding beauty. We look forward to sharing our incredible festival line-up throughout Ireland and internationally.” – Garath Keating, Lord Mayor, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

“It has been a rewarding curatorial experience for DoranBrowne to be invited to create a new international festival strand celebrating St. Patrick in the homeland of his ministry and death. The landscapes of counties Armagh and Down are rich in landmarks associated with St. Patrick and offer an inspiring canvas for artistic curation. We hope our 17 highlight events help to promote an already diverse celebration and will ultimately lead to the festival becoming a major destination for all interested in St Patrick’s unique story as a slave, refugee, visionary and peacemaker.” Sean Doran and Liam Browne – DoranBrowne, Arts Programming & Consultancy

Curated as intrinsic to counties Armagh and Down, there are 17 highlight events in the festival programme. Here follows just some of these highlight events to revel in:

The first weekend (March 3 – 5) focuses on the theme of Pre-Christian Myths and Legends – a weekend celebrating the First Peoples and first cultures of the world in a reflection of the place that St Patrick would have encountered before his Christian ministry began.


The official opening sunset and sunrise ceremonies on the Mound of Down (March 3) and Eamain Macha (Navan Fort, Armagh) (March 4) are performed by the Aboriginal musicians (B2M) and dancers who bring together these magical concerts to some of the country’s most historic sacred sites and will see two ancient cultures join together side by side with their music from two of the oldest cultures, Celtic & Aboriginal – collaborating with Irish Sean-nós musicians, as both groups work together to perform a special ensemble opening ceremonial piece.

The loudest drum in the world, the Lambeg Drum, reaches out by issuing a call to all ancient folk drums across the world to gather for the world’s largest new celebration of the ancient drum in the event DRUMS OF THE WORLD. Beating drums from Africa, Japan, Middle East, India, Indonesia and Istanbul/Turkey also come together for this unique global gathering.


A new project is the Seven Hills Spiritual Cities initiative, in which across seven years of the festival (inspired by Armagh being built on seven hills) will link each year with another city also built on seven hills.  In alliance with Istanbul Biennial 2017 (also part of the Seven Hills: Seven Spiritual Cities project), a good neighbour project is a series featuring photographic works by Norwegian and Berlin based photographer Benjamin Huseby set on 17 billboards across the two counties.

In weekend two (March 10 – 12), entitled Spiritual Journeys the festival heralds yet another interesting and spiritual culture, the Sufis. Sufi music is a devotional song or hymn, which often accompanies religious rituals. These concerts are the first visit of the eight piece THE SECRET ENSEMBLE to the UK & Ireland in an exclusive presentation for Armagh & Downpatrick with an enticing range of exotic Turkish, Iranian and Middle Eastern instruments and will take place in atmospheric surrounds of the two COI St Patrick’s Cathedrals (Downpatrick and Armagh).

Inspired by St. Patrick’s Way and his walk of pilgrimage, A WAY FOR SEEING is a pilgrim style art-walk amidst the extraordinary scenic uplands of the stunning Mourne Mountains, an area of outstanding beauty – Irish poet, Moya Cannon will be the artist leading the walk demonstrating how a writer’s works can be presented in this unique way.

MEMOIRS AND CONFESSIONS is a series of talks and discussions exploring aspects of spirituality alongside the relationship between the personal and individual privacy, touching upon aspects of Patrick’s life – as prisoner and refugee. Some of the lauded talkers include Sally Magnusson, Scottish broadcaster and writer (daughter of Magnus Magnusson) discusses sadness loneliness and joy and dementia; Writer, musician and one time member of the punk band The Slits, Viv Albertine talks candidly about her early music days and her connection to Sid Vicious; and the Young Women’s Panel Discussion, chaired by Sinead Gleeson with Sarah Maria Griffin, Lyra McKee and Holly Shorthall who delve into immersive conversations about Identity and Social Media.

The world of film too gets look-in with SPIRITUAL CELULOID – A specially curated series of mainstream and art house films from around that world that offer a defined spiritual quality to them. And CATHEDRAL CLASSICS curates a series of classical DJs in the spaces of the cathedrals playing records/cds of spiritual music.

Last but not least, the final weekend (March 17 – 19) entitled CONTEMPORARY CELEBRATIONS is a weekend of public processions, traditional religious ceremonies & general family entertainment. Offering an opportunity to reflect on St Patrick’s achievements as a peacemaker and to assess his impact and reflect on his teachings in the modern day world:

World-acclaimed Turkish writer Elif Shafak will give the inaugural SAUL ADDRESS(March 4) on moral leadership. Inspired by the extraordinary leadership skills demonstrated by St. Patrick who through the force of his personality and the art of persuasion brought Christianity to Ireland uniting its regions, the first and only country in human history where Christianity has been introduced peacefully.


The festival’s closing concert THE VOICE OF THE IRISH (March 19) takes its inspiration from St. Patrick commenting in his Confessio that it was the voice of the Irish, speaking to him in a vision, and that brought him back to Ireland to begin his ministry of Christianity.  This concert presents a tremendous opportunity to encourage the Irish abroad to return under the auspices of a festival – a calling home, so to speak!

The Home of St Patrick Festival 2017 literally has something for everyone and will be narrated through walks, talks, bells, drums, processions, music, art…. St. Patrick was a peacemaker, a bringer of Christianity to Ireland without violence or war and this unique festival experience celebrates the life of Ireland’s patron saint set in his adopted homeland. Click HERE for full events Programme

HOME OF ST PATRICK FESTIVAL runs from March 3 – 19. Further info & Book online at

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