Millions of people around the world, Irish or not, celebrate St Patrick's Day on March 17. Major cities from Chicago to Buenos Aires and Sydney to Vancouver, especially those with large Irish communities, host vibrant festivities open to everyone. 

However, there's no better place to celebrate Ireland's national holiday than in the Irish capital. Dublin hosts a four-day foot-stomping, pub-hopping, firework-popping party that runs from Friday, March 15 to Monday, March 18. This four-day event includes everything from parades and family-friendly activities to nightlife that extends into the early morning hours.

Want in? Here’s everything you need to know about celebrating Paddy's Day (never Patty) in Dublin — including where to get a decent pint of the black stuff.

Thousands of revellers pack the Templebar district following the St Patrick's Day parade
Around 50,000 people are expected to attend the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin this year © Charles McQuillan / Getty Images

What is St Patrick’s Day like in Ireland?

Commemorating the anniversary of the death of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated as a national holiday and is a showcase of Irish pride. Each year the country comes to life in vibrant color with trad music sessions, cèilidh (Irish dance parties), costumes, comedy and plenty of great craic in the pub. Subtle it is not.

Although the entire country will join in the celebrations, Dublin is at the center of the action. The capital doesn’t dye the River Liffey green – that’s the Chicago River in the US – but you can expect to see plenty of emerald-colored shamrocks. When St Patrick first introduced Christianity to Ireland, he was said to have used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity. That’s why you’ll see it everywhere. And not the four-leaf clover as it's sometimes mistaken as.

One of the best ways to experience Dublin during Paddy’s Day is to hit the streets and soak up the atmosphere. It’s often the small things that showcase the Irish spirit the most, like the keen camaraderie and bars teeming with people ready to let loose and have fun. 

What's happening at the St Patrick’s Day Parade in 2024?

First hosted in 1931, half a million people are expected to line the streets of Dublin for the annual St Patrick's Day parade in 2024. It takes place on Sunday, March 17. 

Featuring marching bands from across Ireland as well as North America, there will be more than 4000 people taking part in the parade. This includes creative pageants and larger, showpiece performances. The theme for 2024 is Spréach, which is Irish for "Spark".

For the first time, the parade will include a special "Relaxed Parade Space" at College Green. It's designed for neurodivergent individuals and those with sensory sensitivities. Organizers say there'll be different volume zones within the space for those who want to experience the parade at low, medium or full volume and the area will be wheelchair-accessible too. Families who want to join in the fun in the Relaxed Space can apply here.

Performers take part in the St Patrick's Day parade
The celebrations aren't limited to the annual parade © Charles McQuillan / Getty Images 

What route will the parade take in 2024?

The parade will leave Parnell Sq at noon and then follow a 2.5km-long (1.5 mile) route along O'Connell St, crossing the Liffey into Westmoreland St, before passing Trinity College. It will then go along Dame St turning left at Christchurch Cathedral before ending at St Patrick's Cathedral. It’s all over by 2pm.

Do I need to buy tickets for the parade?

No, you can just turn up and find a spot along the route. However, there are five covered grandstands located along the Parade route that require tickets. These are located at O'Connell St, Parnell Sq, Westmoreland St, Christchurch, and St Patrick’s Cathedral. Note that tickets sell out quickly, so you'll need to book early to guarantee a seat. Prices start from €100 and can be bought online.

What about the St Patrick’s Day Festival?

The parade is just the jewel in the crown of a wider St Patrick’s Day Festival. Celebrating Irish art, culture and heritage, the festival will have its own "Festival Quarter" at the National Museum of Ireland from Friday, March 16 until Sunday, March 18. Daytime events are free of charge. At night, events are ticketed and adult-only after 6pm.

Visitors can immerse themselves in Irish culture with a main outdoor stage, a Story Yurt, a funfair, and an Irish food and craft village. Among those penciled in to perform are Denise Chaila, Celaviedmai, Holly Munro, Mariachi San Patricio and the Mother DJs. Buy tickets online. The rest of Dublin will have a number of live events and club nights, too, as well as talks including one hosted by author Emma Dabiri and activist Bernadette Devlin McAliskey that traces the history of Marcus Garvey, the Harlem civil rights activist who took inspiration from Ireland's fight for independence in the early 20th century. Another highlight on the St Patrick's Festival calendar is Wake, a theater performance that combines live music, dance, circus, aerial, drag, Irish traditional music and spoken word. 

Three pints of Guinness are being poured at The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland
You'll be wanting a decent Guinness for St Patrick's Day © VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock

Best places to get a pint in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day

Want to find some of the most expensive pints in the city? Temple Bar is amongst the most traditional and historic quarters of Dublin, but locals make a beeline elsewhere to avoid overpriced and often overcrowded pubs. Of course, a stroll through Temple Bar is an essential experience on any trip to Dublin and it’s no exception on St Patrick’s Day. Expect it to be heaving with merry-makers, and if that's not your vibe, pass on through and make your way to the scores of pubs that will be marginally less crowded. 

For a more relaxed scene, try the nearby Stag’s Head for trad sessions or spill out on the street around Kehoe’s. The Long Hall, now more than 250 years old, is a great place for a drink. Grabbing a street-side ham-and-cheese toastie at Grogan’s is something of a rite of passage in Dublin — if you can find a seat. However, you should expect that most central bars will be jammed with people over the Paddy's Day weekend, so embrace it, join the queue and chat with locals and fellow travelers as you wait for a pint.

Exterior of Grogan’s Castle Lounge on Sth William Street, which was once a well-known haunt of a literary and artistic set.
Grogan’s Castle Lounge is a beloved local pub © noel bennett / Shutterstock

If you head north of the Liffey and stroll down the pedestrianized Capel St, you'll find plenty of places worth stopping, like Pantibar, one of the city's most famous gay bars. The nearby Northside neighborhoods of Smithfield or Stoneybatter are also brimming with pubs that serve excellent Guinness (try Walshs, the Cobblestone, the Glimmer Man or Hynes' Bar) and host (slightly) thinner crowds.

South of the Liffey there are traditional pubs like Arthur's and Fallon's, alongside new spaces like the music-led bar Love Tempo. Or wander down a Dublin street that goes by many names (South Great George's St becomes Aungier St becomes Wexford St becomes Camden St!) to see where the party is — you may find it in the George, Swan Bar, Anseo, Camden Exchange and many, many more. The bar- and restaurant-lined Fade St will also be thronged with people ready to celebrate the occasion. To get right to the root of the revelry, buy a ticket to the Guinness Storehouse, which hosts its own mini-festival for St Patrick’s Day from March 14 to 18. Expect a full program of Irish music, history, food and dance.

This article was first published Feb 10, 2019 and updated Feb 23, 2024.

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