In 2015 our unique Irish holiday was celebrated on a beautiful spring Sunday with a parade, live music and of course a lot of delicious food and hell of a lot of drinks.
The great thing about celebrating Irishness in such a multicultural city such as Berlin is that everyone can get a taste of what it’s like to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day – people from all walks of life got the green clothes out and made the day really open and special.
The parade took off from Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg to the bagpipes of the “Berlin Pipe Company & Friends”, the green-dressed participants marched down Oranienstrasse, until reaching the outdoor stages and drinking tents at Ratiborstrasse.
We got some wonderfully typical Irish weather but there was no worries as heaters and covered areas rejuvenated revelers after stints of dancing in the light rain. Six hours of live music including the seven-member Dublin band “Skipper’s Alley”, with a Uillean Pipes, Irish bagpipe, harp, Fiedel and Bodhrán, is a traditional Irish drum for island tuning. All topped off with culinary specialties from the Emerald Isle – in solid and liquid form.
In 2014 we freshened things up a bit with a new parade route and venue. For the first time we assembled outside of our beloved Kreuzberg as we met up at S-Bahnhof Plänterwald in Treptow for the parade. With St. Patrick’s Day’s falling on a Monday that year so we had our finger’s crossed for big numbers at the weekend. As usual we were not disappointed, as the extended Irish community in Berlin and their friends arrived en masse and wearing green for the parade and festival.
The musical highlight was undoubtedly Berlin’s Irish folk collective Iarthar, who played to a packed crowd at the Arena venue in Treptow.
We also had superb Irish dancers from Donegals Irish Dance troupe who really got the crowds going!
We really went all out in 2013 with a full programme that not only included the annual parade and concert, but we also had a whiskey tasting evening at Geist im Glas and we teamed up with our friends at the Shebeen Flick Irish film festival.
Over 5,000 people braved the snowy weather to attend the festivities, which as usual started with our traditional parade through Kreuzberg.
Along the way we stopped off in Görlitzer Park to warm those toes with some Irish dancing for the whole family!
The crowd was led to the beer garden on Ratiborstr. in Kreuzberg, which played host to our outdoor concert for the first time that year. As revellers had come to expect, we had a fine selection of Irish artists on show to keep the party going. We were overwhelmed by the success of the 2013 event and looked forward to even greater things in 2014!
In 2012 we were blessed with a blistering sunny day that really drew the crowds. Ambassador Dan Mulhall officially launched the festival with a few words as the parade gathered at Spreewaldplatz in Kreuzberg. Once everyone had assembled, we set off into Görlitzer Park accompanied by the wonderful sound of bagpipes in unison. We were also led, of course, by St. Patrick himself as he banished the park’s snakes!
We really felt like the festival had truly arrived that year as more than 2,500 took part on the day. After the parade, we moved back to Spreewaldplatz for music and Irish dancing as the sun set in the background.
After sunset and as the temperature dropped outside, we thankfully didn’t have far to go: We had rented what was back then a Mexican restaurant directly on the Platz for the evening’s festivities. So thankfully the party continued inside until the wee hours with many even making it as far as the after party in Kleine Reise. Ah, those were the days 🙂
SPFB truly did have quite humble beginnings as the Irish and expat community that frequented the Kleine Reise nightclub and led by founder Dara O’Neill gathered at Spreewaldplatz in Kreuzberg to celebrate the first ever festival.
The typical Irish weather conditions didn’t put off around 150 revellers, a very large snake and Paud’s St. Patrick! As bemused dog walkers in Görlitzer Park looked on, our merry band wove its way through the park before ending up back at Kleine Reise for a night of wild dancing and merriment!