The national St Patrick's Day Parade will return to the streets of Dublin this year for the first time since 2019.

Organisers have said this year's event will be the biggest and most ambitious ever produced.

The theme this year is 'Connections' and will be a celebration of Irish arts, culture and heritage.

The first live St Patrick's Festival since 2019 is to be a moment for the nation and Irish people across the world to connect and reflect and celebrate after the global challenges posed by the pandemic.

Organisers say it will have more participants than ever before, while the Festival Quarter at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks will be a new addition for 2022.

The day-to-night urban festival, which will run from 16 to 20 March, and the Festival Quarter will also host the Irish Food and Craft Village.

"The theme of this year's festival is around connections, so we have built that out across our whole programme," said interim Festival Director Anna McGowan.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One programme, she said: "It's about looking at what has bound us over the last two years and how we've been able to connect with each other during the really challenging times that we've had.

"But it's also about Ireland; our connection with each other as a country, and also those international connections that we have as a global family of 80 million."

Ms McGowan explained how this concept has been incorporated into the festivities.

"It'll be a guiding principle. It'll run through the pageantry throughout the parade and then it will inform the programming within the festival quarter."

She continued: "On a very basic level the connection will be people coming into Dublin and being able to celebrate in person together, for the first time in three years really."

Last year's events were online and this presented a new opportunity to make connections in a different way, Ms McGowan said. It allowed the organisers to "reach out across geographical boundaries".

One St Patrick's festival veteran, Rose Silva of Samba Dance Brazil, said she cannot wait for the festivities in March.

"Since 2011, when I started to be part of the parade, each year it's a different sensation, but this year it's amazing. The public, they are coming back," Ms Silva said.

"Last year we did online and we worked with our costumes, with choreography, with music but this year it's different because we will have our public back, thank God for that."

Orla Carroll, Director of Product Development at Fáilte Ireland, said that St Patrick's Festival 2022 was "badly needed" as Dublin tourism relies heavily on events.

"St Patrick's Day has traditionally been the start of our season and isn't it great that this year it's going to be bigger and better than ever and it's all opening up again," Ms Carroll said.

"We already are seeing visitors from abroad coming, and bookings are looking positive for the summer and onwards, but also locally, we need domestic people to come too.

"So people from Mayo or Kerry, come up to Dublin too, it really is going to be a great few days," Ms Carroll added.

Additional reporting: Laura Fletcher