New Venue for St. Pats Parade

MTGreen face paint is not mandatory.

Moscow will turn slightly green this weekend, and not only from the warm weather. Tens of thousands of Muscovites are expected for the capital’s 18th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday.

Although Moscow’s St. Paddy celebration doesn’t quite rival the scale of those in New York or Dublin, the parade will still infuse the capital with leaping leprechauns, Irish flags and even wolfhounds at its new high-profile location along Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ulitsa.

The parade will begin at high noon on Bolshaya Dorogomilovskaya Ulitsa, at the Kutuzovsky Prospekt end, and then march to the Yevropeisky mall by the Kievskaya metro station. It is expected to last about an hour and a half and will feature Irish dancing and music groups, Defense Ministry marching bands, Cossack horsemen, fairy tale characters and commercial floats.

Previously, the parade had taken place along Novy Arbat, but this year City Hall allocated the parade a new venue. The parade’s organizers, the Irish Business Club of Moscow, with the support of the Irish Embassy, hope that the new location will add thousands of Sunday shoppers and additional passers-by to the crowd the parade usually draws. Last year’s attendance was estimated at 40,000.

“My favorite part is looking out and seeing how many Russian people gather to help us celebrate our national day,” said Avril Conroy, president of the Irish Business Club. “Muscovites come out in droves.”

There are only about 200 Irish nationals in Moscow, she said, noting that most of the parade’s more than 1,000 participants are Russian.

Mayor Yury Luzhkov is expected to attend, along with 80 other VIP guests, including Irish Ambassador Philip McDonagh.

The parade is one of a series of Irish events celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Moscow, including the annual Irish Club Charity Ball and the third annual Irish Film Festival to be held March 17-23 at 35MM.