Manchester’s St George’s Day Festival celebrations were launched today – to an empty Albert Square.
The festival, now in its 9th year, runs from today until Sunday and organisers aim to provide entertainment to all ages to celebrate the patron saint of England.
Manchester’s Lord Mayor Cllr Harry Lyons joined event organiser Jack Bradshaw, 62, from Rusholme, to open the festival but Mancunians failed to turn out in force amid heavy rainfall.
Wilbraham Primary School in Fallowfield performed a number of songs and displayed their drumming skills to the Lord Mayor.
The highlight of the festival will be the annual parade which will take place on Sunday from 11.30am ahead of St. George’s Day on Monday.
EMPTY: Albert Square today
Starting from Park View Primary School on Varley Street, Miles Platting, the parade will travel a 3-mile route taking in Oldham Road, Piccadilly Gardens and Great Ancoats Street before finishing at Varley Street.
Mr Bradshaw is expecting a big weekend despite the low attendance at today’s launch and believes that the adverse weather may have had an impact.
“Last year’s events drew 15,000 people despite the Manchester City and Manchester United F.A Cup Semi-Final on the same day.
“It’s still growing and we hope that getting the kids involved will keep St George’s Day relevant in the future,” he said.
Whilst admitting that St George’s Day celebrations can’t compete with the scale of its Irish counterpart St Patrick’s Day, Mr Bradshaw spoke of the importance of celebrating different cultures and their patron saints.
He said: “We don’t throw it down people’s throats but we want people to come together as a community.
"Everyone has their own religion, their own culture and their own national identity and we support that.”
A number of events have been lined up over the weekend for patriotic revellers, including performances from Katie Spitfire, Will Holehouse and Manchester vocalist Krisshan Jade Weedall who has appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.
Sunday will see a display of birds of prey and a number of performances including leading Lancashire folk group Trouble at Mill.
For more information on the festival, visit http://www.stgeorgefestival.net/