AS PREPARATIONS are underway for thisyear's St Patrick's Day celebrations, thoughts are turning to meeting next year's £25k party price tag.
Membersof the Brent Irish Advisory Service, based at the Willesden Green Library Centre, have been busy putting the final touches to the festival on Saturday March 17, which is expected to attract more than 6,000 people.
But due tocurrent economic pressures Brent Council will no longer be able to fund the parade after this year, and members of BIAS are starting to think about meeting the hefty costs for the event in 2013.
TonyAntoniou, chairman of the St Patrick's Day organising party, said: "We have put so much work into this year's parade, it's all run by volunteers who spend weeks and weeks getting everything together. I think events like this are so important for the whole community in the current situation. People need a boost, and it's vital to get the whole community together. It's not just for the Irish community, it's for everyone, and everyone gets involved.
"Weare very grateful to the council for funding it so far, and this year of course. It's no criticism of the council, and we understand cuts need to be made. It is going to be very difficult for us to get the funds together for next year, but we will do absolutely everything we can."
The 2012 St Patrick'sDay celebration in Brent will be the sixteenth of its kind in the borough, and will start at 2pm at Willesden Underground Station.
It is the only official St Patrick's Day Parade in London on the day itself.
Theparade will feature the Birmingham Irish Pipe and Drum Band and Dublin City All Stars Marching Band, and will travel to the Willesden Green Library Centre. Revellers are advised to get to Willesden High Road early to enjoy the best views.
Festivalgoers can then dance the evening away at the library centre to the best of Irish music. Performers are set to include Slim Attraction, Martin Ruddy and Sean Wilson, one of the original stars of the Irish country music scene.
Mayor of Brent,councillor Aslam Choudry said: "Brent St Patrick's Day always gets the crowd excited and joining in with the singing and dancing.
"Thefact we are the only borough in London to celebrate St Patrick's Day on the official day makes our celebrations even more special. We invite the whole community, both Irish and non Irish, to celebrate with us."
Therewill also be plenty for youngsters on the day including face painting, fair rides, circus skills workshops and a magic show.
ChristinaConnolly, director of BIAS, said: "We want to make sure it happens next year, it is very important, and we have a huge Irish population here in Brent."