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Stockholm set for 'biggest ever' St.Patrick's

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Stockholm set for 'biggest ever' St.Patrick's
10:52 CET+01:00
Friends Arena in Stockholm is set to be bathed in the colour green during Sunday's bandy finals as part of the city's ambitious celebrations in honour of the Irish patron saint St. Patrick.

"The stadium itself is going to be turned green for several days. It's part of a global campaign in which prominent landmarks around the world will be turned green to promote Ireland," said Ragnar Almqvist at the Irish embassy in Stockholm to The Local.

Other landmarks set to change hue for the occasion include the Empire State Building, the tower of Pisa, the Giza pyramids and the stature of Christ in Rio. The campaign has featured a series on landmarks since being launched in 2010.

Sweden hosts Ireland in next Friday's football World Cup qualifier, adding an extra twist to this year's celebrations among the Irish community in Stockholm.

"This will likely be the biggest St. Patrick's celebration Stockholm has ever seen," Almqvist said.

The annual parade this year is set to be boosted by the expected 4,000 Irish football fans who are expected to visit the city next weekend.

The parade itself has been postponed until March 23rd out of respect to Princess Lilian, who died last weekend and whose burial takes place on Saturday.

The festival programme has however been running from March 8th. Highlights include Anúna, Ireland's National Choir, acclaimed author Dermot Bolger, and Riverdance star Colin Dunne.

"We're really trying to focus on highlighting quality Irish culture," Almqvist said.

He added that despite the appearance of pop twins Jedward in Sweden's Melodifestivalen heats, the Dublin duo will not be featuring in the St. Patrick's Day festivities.

However, the pair are expected to gain further exposure at the Eurovision finals in Malmö in May.

St. Patrick's day began as a national holiday in Ireland to remember St. Patrick and has grown into a global celebration of Irish culture observed by expat and immigrant groups in cities across the globe.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

Follow Peter on Twitter here.

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