08 Mar 2008

Tourism Ireland will host the world’s first virtual St Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday 16th March, in the internet-based, virtual world of Second Life.  The virtual parade will include 20 Irish and Celtic themed floats and will be the highlight of a three-day Discover Ireland Festival in Second Life, sponsored by Tourism Ireland.
Second Life is one of the largest virtual worlds in existence, with over 12 million registered users, 3 million of whom are considered regular users.  Sixty per cent of Second Life’s users come from Ireland’s four biggest tourist markets: Great Britain, US, Germany and France.   Half of those users are aged over 30 – a key demographic for tourism to the island of Ireland.   These “residents” can explore, socialise, and participate in activities and services using Second Life’s currency, the Linden Dollar.
As well as the first virtual St Patrick’s Day parade, Tourism Ireland will organise a range of events and activities during the St Patrick’s festivities in Second Life’s replica city of Dublin.  Events will include a live broadcast of the largest ever contemporary Irish music expo – “Snakes and Ladders” – from the World Financial Center in New York; a treasure hunt which will involve visitors exploring Dublin to find clues that will enable them to collect points and win prizes (clues are located on; as well as live bands and DJs. 
The virtual cruise ship the “SS Galaxy” will visit Dublin during the festivities and will host an onboard digital exhibition of Irish artists’ work.  Guided helicopter and bus tours of Dublin in Second Life will take place throughout the weekend, giving visitors historical information on the many famous Dublin landmarks that are recreated in Second Life.
Tourism Ireland’s objective is to encourage those who visit this virtual world to come and visit the real Ireland during 2008.  “Dublin” in Second Life is a well-established destination – frequently making the Top Ten list of the most popular places to visit there.  Tourism Ireland launched the first ever tourism marketing campaign in Second Life last October, with a Discover Ireland music festival.
This new promotion is just one of a potent mix of consumer, media and trade marketing lined up for spring 2008, tapping into the interest and goodwill generated by St. Patrick’s celebrations across the globe.  In total Tourism Ireland will spend  €37 million (£25 million) promoting the island of Ireland around the globe in the first half of 2008. 
Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland’s Central Marketing Director, said: “We are very excited about the world’s first virtual St Patrick’s Day parade – it’s an innovative and interesting way to present the island of Ireland as an attractive holiday destination to a new audience.  Once they have experienced the simulated Ireland, we hope these potential visitors will come and see the real thing.” 
“Tourism Ireland’s involvement in Second Life is about finding new ways to connect with today’s web-savvy consumer as effectively as possible.  Our Second Life music festival last autumn was the most popular weekend ever for the virtual city of Dublin.  We expect this St Patrick’s weekend festivities to be an even greater draw for people from all over the world,” said Mark Henry.  “Tourism Ireland has already doubled its digital marketing spend over the past three years.  This year we plan to spend close to a quarter of our entire marketing budget – over €10 million (£6.7 million) – online.” 
Some experts predict that the web will be three-dimensional in a decade’s time and virtual worlds such as Second Life give us some idea of what the web may look like in the future.  Second Life is one of the biggest virtual worlds in existence and many major brands, including Coca-Cola, Vodafone, IBM, Toyota, Sony and Adidas already have a presence there.
Anyone can join in the St Patrick’s Festivities by getting a free Second Life account through or at the virtual Dublin website:
The Programme of St Patrick’s Festivities in Second Life includes: [note: all times are GMT]
Saturday 15th March
17:00    Grand Opening
17:01    Treasure Hunt begins and will run for the next three days with instruction and clues at 30 locations
17:15    Saturday Swing
                - Irish/Celtic rock by live DJ (2 hours)
20:00    Carraig
                - Irish/Celtic rock by live DJ (2 hours)
23:00    Highland Marching Band parade and concert
                - fully kitted marching band with kilt and pipes (2 hours)
Sunday 16th March
15:00    Sunday Riot  - Irish/Celtic rock by live DJ (2 hours)
15:00    Bus and Helicopter Tours of Dublin start (4 hours)
17:15    Celtic Muse
                - Irish/Celtic sports music by live DJ (2 hours)
19:00    St Patrick’s Day Parade 
                - 20 Irish and Celtic themed floats (2 hours)
21:00   Sunday Slam - Irish/Celtic rock by live DJ (2 hours)
21:00    Live Music Showcase
                - Keltish live music band (1 hour)
23:00    Snakes & Ladders:  New Irish Music Festival live simulcast from New York
                - the largest expo of new Irish music in the world, ever! (2½ hours)
                - Featuring: Green Time Ensemble, Somadrome, Amoebadoid, Deep Burial, General Practise, Toirse, Richard G                  Evans, Educution, Daniel Figgis
01:30    Carraigh  - Irish/Celtic rock by live DJ (1½ hours)
Monday 17th March
16:30    Snakes & Ladders:  New Irish Music Festival live simulcast from New York
               - Featuring: Brian O’Huiginn, Roger Doyle, Daniel Figgis
19:30    Live Ireland traditional Irish music festival live simulcast from the real world Dublin to virtual Dublin (3 hours)
20:00    Fibber Magees Grand Opening live music simulcast from the real world Fibber Magees to virtual Dublin featuring the band “World of Good” (2½ hours)
22:00    Carraig at New Fibber Magees
               - Irish/Celtic rock by live DJ (2 hours)


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