St Patrick's Day, Dragon Boat festivals draw big crowds to Wellington waterfront

As much of the world remains clamped down by the pandemic, the luck of the Irish appears to have rubbed off on Wellingtonians as hundreds of St Patrick's Day marchers painted the town green, parading through thousands of dragon boat spectators at the waterfront.
Crowds packed downtown Wellington during the weekend to make the most of the sunshine, the freedom that comes with the community being free of Covid-19 and the array of events, celebrating the regions diverse communities.

The citys annual Dragon Boat Festival kicked off on Saturday and continued on Sunday, with more than 40 adult teams and representatives from 30-plus schools competing. Upwards of 10,000 spectators attended over both days.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff
Irish dancers jig around the Wellington waterfront, as spectators watch the Dragon Boat races from higher ground.

Meanwhile, the first festivities as part of Wellingtons Pride Festival got underway.


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MONIQUE FORD/Stuff
A team paddles hard during race 9 at the Dragon Boat Festival competition in the Wellington Harbour.

The St Patrick's Day celebrations began at 1.30pm on Sunday when St Patrick arrived via waka at Wharewaka.

The parade a few days ahead of the actual day, Wednesday started half an hour later at Odlins Plaza before heading to Queen's Wharf.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff
Irish Wellingtonians paint the town green, as St Patricks Day festivities get underway.

Traditionally there are dozens, if not hundreds of parades taking place throughout the world with crowds of people packing streets from Dublin to New York, Tokyo to Buenos Aires, Wellington Irish president Ian Long said.

As far as we know, this year New Zealand is hosting the only parades in the world, with Wellington hosting the first of two parades in Aotearoa.


Dozens of Irish dancers wove their way through groups of onlookers cheering for those out on the water in the dragon boats.

Wellington's waterfront was already squeezed for space due to preparations for the sold-out Homegrown festival next Saturday featuring 50 Kiwi bands and a crowd of about 24,000 expected.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff
The Valley Dragon Boat Club compete in race 10 at the Dragon Boat

As the sun started to set, Marlon Williams fans started arriving in the city for the singers show at the Opera House.

The venue, which has capacity for 1380, was packed as the concert began at 7pm.

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