Seoul -North Korea marked the birthday of its founding leader on Friday, with a rare “live” broadcast of celebrations in Pyongyang, but no sign of the military parade or weapons tests that many analysts had predicted.

Known as the Day of the Sun in the nuclear-armed North, the April 15 birthday of the late Kim Il Sung -- grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un -- is one of the most important dates in Pyongyang’s political calendar.

There has been a steady drumbeat of celebratory coverage in state media leading up to the day, including commemorative stamps, light festivals, dance parties and floral tributes.

“I came to see the lighting festival with my daughter. Looking at it today, it’s really cool. The most impressive thing in particular is this one that says ‘self-reliance’,” Ri Bom Chol, a 40-year-old doctor, told an AFP reporter in Pyongyang.

The anniversary celebrations come three weeks after North Korea staged its largest intercontinental ballistic missile test ever -- the first time Kim’s most powerful weapons had been fired at full range since 2017.

That test was the culmination of a record-breaking blitz of sanctions-busting launches this year and signalled an end to a self-imposed moratorium on long-range and nuclear tests.

Analysts along with South Korean and US officials had widely expected Pyongyang to mark April 15 with a military parade to unveil new weaponry, or even a test of the country’s banned nuclear weapons.

But there was no mention Friday in state media of any such event.

The official KCTV later showed a large number of young North Koreans dancing in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square in celebration of the anniversary.

In the images that the state media said were braodcast live, the dancers -- women dressed in colourful traditional attire while men in white shirts and black pants -- performed to Pyongyang’s propaganda music, showing a mix of traditional Korean dance moves and western waltz.

It later showed multi-coloured fireworks near the North’s scenic Taedong River as well as the Kim Il Sung Square, and what appeared to be missile and tank-shaped light installations in the nation’s capital.

“We endlessly love the socialism that we chose,” a narrator said over the footage of the fireworks.

Earlier Friday, Seoul-based specialist site NK News said its sources in the North heard helicopters and jets flying low over Pyongyang very early Friday, hinting at a military parade.

But an analysis of satellite imagery later suggested no parade had taken place, the site added.