St Patrick's Day is always, as those pesky kids would say, "a large one". But this year it will be particularly large, because once in a while all the pieces fall into place for an event. And this year, everything is set for a perfect day for pub retailers.
Firstly, it falls on a Saturday, which not only means people have carte blanche to visit your pub throughout the day, but revellers might take in Friday and Sunday as part of their celebrations.
And secondly, it will be a massive weekend of sport with the Cheltenham Festival in full swing and the small matter of the final day of the Six Nations rugby championship, which will see three games being played back-to-back Saturday afternoon.
Below three experts give you their views on how to make the most of celebrations on the day when good old St Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland.
Allison Graham, managing director of www.partydelights.co.uk, helps people to put together more than 100,000 parties each year. Here are her top tips on how to create the best St Patrick's Day party at your pub.
- Plan. Make sure you organise and prepare for every aspect of the event - promotion, decoration, food and logistics.
- Promotion. Ensure customers know you have an event planned. We have a personalised banner service that can help with external advertising.
- Preparation. On the day make sure you have enough time and staff to help set up and clear up after the event.
- Practicality. Ensure you pick decorations to fit the theme/ambience of the pub, whether you create an Irish themed grotto with a scene setter or use a range of decorations and balloons.
- Performance. Dress staff in Irish themed fancy dress costumes and offer face painting.
- Playtime. Provide organised entertainment through an Irish themed quiz or karaoke evening.
- Presentation. Use Irish themed tablecloths, napkins and centrepieces in the dining area to enhance the atmosphere.
- Protocol. Be aware of health and safety, ensure decorations and balloons are at a distance from any hot lights and dispose of helium canisters safely through a local waste department - do not put in the general rubbish bin.
Punch Taverns is encouraging its pubs to make the most of the whole weekend
Punch's category manager Stephen Martin says: "The ideas and promotional kits available in our brochure Celebrate St Patrick's Weekend are designed to stimulate interest in pubs throughout the weekend. Millions of people will be looking to party and the local pub is the perfect place to be."
The brochure includes several deals with relevant brand owners and free point-of-sale material giveaways in exchange for bulk purchases. Advice also includes Irish recipes.
Stephen Martin's top five tips:
1. Use external banners, chalkboards, posters and A-boards in the build-up to the weekend to let customers know you're celebrating and will have some great offers available for them.
2. Go green! Decorate the interior of your pub with themed bunting and posters. Use green light- bulbs, green tablecloths and encourage staff to dress in green.
3. Add some Irish dishes to your regular menu or specials board.
4. Stage a St Patrick's Day quiz or run a prize draw with Irish themed prizes. Try a karaoke night with renditions of your favourite Irish tunes.
5. Cross-promote St Patrick's with other key events that weekend, for example, Red Nose Day (16th), the Six Nations Rugby, including Italy versus Ireland (17th) and Mother's Day (18th).
The Head of Steam pubs in Newcastle, Huddersfield and Liverpool are renowned for their unusual beer festivals, but the jewel in their crown is their St Patrick's Day Beer Festivals.
"We bring over Irish real ales from both the Republic and Ulster," says Tony Brookes, managing director of The Head Of Steam. "This year four breweries are represented - including the Hilden and College Green Breweries.
"Our Irish beer festivals are always a great popular draw and we take pride in offering rare real ales from Irish breweries which find it hard to get exposure in the UK, "he adds.
"Irish brewers produce some fantastic, quality ales, including their own styles, such as red ales, rarely found in Britain. We are particularly pleased to be able to get Porterhouse TSB from Dublin this year - a really rare ale."
The ales will be on sale on St Patrick's Day through the handpumps, so they won't all be on sale at the same time.