In this series, Lonely Planet’s team of writers and editors answers your travel problems and provides tips and hacks to help you plan a hassle-free trip. This week, Dublin-based culture and music writer Kate Demolder shares her pick of live-music Paddy’s Day events you should not miss.
Question: I am coming to Dublin for St Patrick’s Day. Are there any concerts or events I should book in advance?
Kate Demolder: Dubliners celebrate Paddy’s Day (not Patty’s Day – ever) with a famous parade. Yet plenty of gigs, events and concerts on and around March 17 reveal what modern Dublin really looks like – with freshly blooming trees all around, to boot. For those traveling to celebrate the occasion, do know that you need to book in advance. The city is at full capacity this week – which is great for craic but also means that events will quickly sell out.
1. Mother presents Cultúr Club
National Museum of Ireland, March 16 (St Patrick’s Eve)
As proved by recent referendums, the modern Irish experience is as much about acceptance and joy as Guinness and Atlantic sea swimming. On the night before Paddy’s Day, LGBTIQ+ club Mother will host an event that aims to marry all aspects of Irish culture. Taking place at the National Museum of Ireland’s Northside location – called Collins Barracks, after Irish rebel Michael Collins – this St Patrick’s Eve event brings a night of live music, queer performance, club culture and the transformative power of the dance floor.
Expect performances by RTÉ Choice Music Prize–nominated queer Irish artist Elaine Mai with MayKay and Sinéad White, alongside newer acts such as Bobbi Arlo, Lewwab, Pastiche and Tim Chadwick. A very special queer céilí (Irish group dance) called the Géilí (pronounced “gay-lee”) will bring plenty of energy, with help from RiverDrag. A number of drag queens and DJs, including legendary Dublin drag queen Panti Bless and Tara Kumar, will also be present, with words and stories from Irish Times journalist Una Mullally plus a new storytelling night called Seanchoíche. You can buy tickets here.
2. Pillow Queens
Mainstage at Festival Quarter, National Museum of Ireland, March 18
Headliners and curators-in-chief of the entire St Patrick’s Festival, homegrown heroes Pillow Queens take the stage the night of Saturday March 18. (You may know this four-woman, four-piece indie rock band from their recent appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden.) In 2022, the band went from strength to strength, releasing their sophomore record Leave The Light On, playing two sold-out shows at hallowed Dublin venue Vicar Street and performing to crowds of thousands across North America and Europe.
Boasting a bottomless wealth of knowledge and tastemaker status within the industry, Pamela Connolly, Sarah Corcoran, Cathy McGuinness and Rachel Lyons are ones to watch. Especially on Paddy’s Day. Buy tickets here.
3. Moving Hearts and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, March 17 and 18
When Moving Hearts – the Irish Celtic rock band that weaves together both genres with a traditional bent – and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra first came together for a special on RTÉ Radio 1 for the St Patrick’s Day broadcast in 2020, their impact was so profound and immediate that plans were made rebook the gig again as soon as they could. With COVID-19 putting a halt to that, punters have had to wait three years for both titans of Irish music to join forces again. Sensational, rousing and spiritual, this concert is one any Irish person would be overjoyed to attend. Click here for tickets and more information.
4. Annie Mac: Before Midnight
Vicar Street, March 17
DJ Annie Mac is one of our finest exports. Having recently finished up a 17-year stint working at BBC Radio 1, the Dubliner has committed to a life more ordinary – except, that is, when she tears the roof off the venue with her favorite records. Her prodigal daughter–like return to Dublin will take place at Vicar Street in the form of Before Midnight, a time-shifting club experience that starts at 7pm and ends at the strike of 12. Think reckless abandon – followed by an early bedtime. Tickets have (unsurprisingly) sold out, but you can join the waitlist here.