Dublin canceled its St. Patrick's Day parade due to COVID-19, but it's celebrating virtually — for an entire week.

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Dublin has canceled its St. Patrick's Day parade for the second year in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But this year, organizers are planning a six-day virtual celebration and inviting the world to join.

Ireland's 2021 St. Patrick's Festival will run from March 12 through 17 on a dedicated TV channel and website. The lineup will include performances by musicians, artists, and of course, marching bands. "While we cannot gather on the streets for the St. Patrick's Festival Parade this March 17, we are reimagining how we bring to life the heart and soul of the national parade," organizers said in a statement.

Dublin's parade is the largest in Ireland and typically draws crowds above 500,000, the BBC reports.

man dressed as St Patrick leads the start of the annual St Patricks Day parade through the city centre of Dublin
A man dressed as St Patrick leads the start of the annual St Patricks Day parade through the city centre of Dublin on March 17, 2019.
| Credit: PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty

News of the parade's cancellation comes as the Irish government is considering extending local lockdowns for another six weeks, according to a report from the Irish Independent.

Ireland appeared to have flattened its curve over the summer, but has seen a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases this year. On Jan. 8 alone, Ireland reported more than 8,000 new cases — the country's highest level since the pandemic began.

Officials believe the spike is largely due to people becoming less cautious and restrictions being loosened ahead of the Christmas holidays, the Irish Independent reported, noting that more than half of the new cases were of a new virus variant that emerged in the U.K.

Ireland has so far reported 182,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

Belfast also has canceled its St. Patrick's Day parade for the second year in a row. Northern Ireland remains in lockdown through at least March 5.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.