Until recently, the tangled history of the Irish and the English kept public celebrations of St. Patrick's Day relatively small scale.
But not anymore.
In the 21st century, England's biggest cities seem to be trying to make up for lost time with festivals and celebrations of Irishness that get bigger every year.
St. Patrick's Day in London
London turns St. Patrick's Day in to at least a week of festivities, free performances and all kinds of Irish culture - from step dancing to rival Riverdance to the latest crop of Irish stand-up comedians. It all culminates in a Parade - on the Saturday closest to St. Patrick's Day, and a festival, on the Sunday, in Central London's big public spaces - Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and Leicester Square.
The London St. Patrick's Day Parade, including marching bands from Ireland and the UK, community groups, sports cubs, schools and street theatre, heads out from Hyde Park Corner at noon on the Saturday of St. Patrick's Day weekend. You can usually register to march behind your Irish county's flag. Details are posted on the London St. Patrick's Day website, a few weeks before the event. Read more about St. Patrick's Day in London
St. Patrick's Day in ManchesterManchester lays claim to the UK's biggest St. Patrick's Day Parade, with more than 70 floats, bands and marching groups snaking through the streets from the Irish World Heritage Centre on Queens Road, along Cheethan Hill Road, Corporation Street, Cross Street and Albert Square before retracing the route back to the start. The parade starts at 11:45 on a Sunday before St. Patrick's Day. (In 2008 that means an early celebration on March 9). It's all part of Manchester's two-week long Irish festival of music, dance, art, food, drink, comedy and family fun during the first half of March.
Visit the Manchester Irish Festival Website for the full schedule and this year's dates.
St. Patrick's Day in BirminghamBirmingham goes all out for St. Patrick's Day, regularly attracting as many as 100,000 people for what the city claims is the "third biggest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world," on the Saturday or Sunday of St. Patrick's Day weekend.
The Parade, that features at least 60 floats and more than 1,000 marchers, is the culmination of a week long Irish festival of music, dance, comedy, food and family events around Birmingham's city center and Millennium Point.
A highlight of the Birmingham parade is the performance of the massed pipers. At the end of the parade, about 20 minutes after the last floats and walkers have completed the route, all the pipe bands come together to form a mass pipe band. The huge band of pipers then marches from Alcester Street to the Irish Club and then back to Alcester Street.
Visit the Birmingham St. Patrick's Festival Website for full details and a parade route.