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St. Patrick's Day celebrations get international attention 0

QMI Agency

In Canada, St. Patrick's Day is about celebrating Irish culture. But in Ireland this year, the celebration has gone international.

A tourism initiative to drive up tourism in the tourist-hungry country has expanded to its annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, where the invitation is open to 8,000 people to march the streets of the Irish capital on Sunday.

So far, more than 5,500 tourists have sign on, including a group of eight from South Africa who plan to march in traditional tribal dress, according to the Irish Times.

"Let us not underestimate the power of St Patrick's Day in Ireland," Andrew Cowan, spokesman for the Gathering -- the year-long tourism initiative to welcome more visitors to the Emerald Isle -- told the newspaper. "Who would want to come to register to walk in a parade? Lots of people obviously."

More than 750 people from France alone have signed on to join the "people's parade" and a group of Germans have said they plan to dress each as a piece of food from a traditional Irish breakfast on the 2.5-km route.

Dublin's five-day St Patrick's Festival is among the largest in the world, attracting more than one million people from around the island and abroad, and requires 18 months of planning, according to organizers.

Dublin Airport has reported a 6% rise in passenger numbers this weekend, with 225,000 expected to arrive.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny intends to be among the marchers in this year's parade before heading for an annual visit to Washington to exchange shamrocks with President Barack Obama.

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