Around 10,000 people are expected to descend on Portlaoise on Friday night for the opening parade of the national Féile Peile na nÓg, which takes place across Laois and Offaly this weekend.
The parade is set to be the biggest that Féile has ever seen in its 41 years history, with a record number of teams and bands participating.
Parade organiser, Jack Nolan said 152 teams and 15 marching bands will make their way through Portlaoise on Friday evening. While O’Moore Park and Portlaoise GAA will be the venue for Sunday’s finals.
Local bands including St Joseph’s Accordion Band, the Shanahoe Marching Band, Ratheniska Comhaltas Band and the Killeshin Pipe band will all take part in the parade, which will be lead by the Mullingar Celtic Band.
In what will be an explosion of colour and a spectacle not to be missed, each of the 152 teams will carry their own club’s banner during the parade.
The teams will be addressed by Uachtaran Cumann Luthchleas Gael, Liam O’Neill before the parade departs.
Chairperson of the Laois/Offaly Féile Peil committee, Peter O’Neill said the parade will be one of the biggest the midlands has ever seen and he encouraged local people and businesses to get out and support the teams with flags and bunting.
The parade will leave O’Moore Park at 7pm and travel down James Fintan Lawlor Avenue, up Main Street and past the viewing stand in Market Square, before finishing up at Centrepoint, where buses will be waiting to take the teams to meet thier hosts families for the first time. The parade is expected to take up to two hours to complete and just one side of the Abbeyleix Road and JFL Avenue will remain open during that time to allow traffic to pass through the town.
Féile Péil is also a massive economic boost to the town, as hundreds of families and club representatives make the journey to Portlaoise to support their teams.
“The financial contribution to the county is great. All the hotels in Portlaoise are sold out, along with hotels in Tullamore, Carlow and Athy. Teams will begin arriving as early as Wednesday (today) and Thursday,” the chairperson said. Laois Craft and Food Producers will also display their wares on Saturday in the Top Square. He also thanked Laois Partnership for their support.