Pipe music drifted through the city’s streets today as a parade of colourful floats, proud Irish families and traditional bands came together in Leeds ahead of St Patrick’s Day.
Leeds-born DJ Chris Moyles joined the Lord Mayor, Coun Jane Dowson, to cut the ribbon and wave off the 19th Leeds St Patrick’s Day parade.
After winding its way through the city centre, the procession returned to Millennium Square where stalls, entertainment and live music kept revellers in high spirits until the party moved to Leeds Irish Centre.
Addressing the packed square, parade committee chairman Jackie Dwyer said: “Thank you for being here today. This is our 19th year for the parade and I think you must agree it’s been fantastic.
"I’d like to sincerely thank everybody that’s come here today and all the people who have worked so hard. All you’ve got to do is look at all the floats going round. Weren’t they magnificent?”
Among those welcoming back the procession was 42-year-old Isabelle Hardaker, who was in the company of three generations.
“We’re celebrating our ancestors because they’re from Ireland. We come every year,” she said. “The parade was fabulous, really good.”
Kieran Brady, 47, had taken part in previous years with his old football team and returned this year to join 10-year-old daughter Ruby on the Immaculate Heart float.
“We’ve been two or three times before,” he said. “We usually end up walking but this time we were in the parade. It was cool.”
Schools, sports clubs, Irish dance schools and social clubs were all well represented this year, with St Theresa’s Catholic Primary School taking the trophy for best float.
Terry O’Sullivan, of the Irish Embassy, told crowds he had chosen the float because of its “vibrancy and activity.”
He added: “It’s an absolute privilege for me to be here today for this fantastic parade.
“It’s my first time in Leeds. It’s superb to see the turnout today, the parade and floats.”
While many of the floats focused on the orange, green and white of the Irish flag, one chose instead to recreate Dublin’s Moore Street Market.
Created by Leeds Irish Health and Homes, it was topped off with a clock tower and featured one reveller dressed as Molly Malone.
“We wanted to recreate the nostalgia of the time,” Sara Allkins, of LIHH, said.
“We’ve also been working in partnership with the wonderful Jamaican Society. We thought we would mix it up so our music all the way round has been traditional Jamaican soca as well as Irish music.”