There’s few other places worldwide to better enjoy St Patrick’s Day than Ireland’s capital, Dublin. After having its popular annual parade and festival cancelled in both 2020 and 2021, this year’s St. Patrick’s Festival is set to be the biggest and best ever. 

Dublin will burst in colour, pride and celebration once again, with the festival taking place across five days from Wednesday 16th March to Sunday 20th March. Not only an occasion for the Irish to celebrate amongst themselves, St. Patrick’s Day is also a welcome opportunity for the 80-million strong tribe of those with Irish heritage to either return home or to partake in celebrations wherever they are across the world.

Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alison Gilliland and Festival Parade participants, dancers from Samba Dance Brazil, Alma Boliviana Dance Ballet and CICI India
Connection is one of the themes for the 2022 St Patrick's Day Festival © Julien Behal Photography / The Hive Agency

What is St Patrick’s Day like in Ireland?

Banish twee thoughts of leprechauns and pots of gold. We don’t dye the river Liffey green nor do we speak in limericks, but you’d be correct in thinking St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is never an unsubtle occasion. Particularly in Dublin (but also in towns, cities and villages country-wide) you’ll find vibrant colour, song, conversation and celebration.

One of the best ways to experience Dublin on Ireland’s national holiday is to hit the streets and soak up the atmosphere rather than sticking to a strict itinerary. It’s often the small things that showcase the Irish spirit the most: the keen camaraderie, the impromptu trad music sessions in corners, the random moments of craic and finding a bar teeming with locals.

In what the St. Patrick’s Festival organisers are calling “a landmark celebration” and “a moment for the nation” (given the unparalleled challenges of the last three years) the five-day festival in the Irish capital is set to be the largest in scale and ambition to date with a vast programme of live and virtual events, ranging from song, story and performance to film, theatre, tour and food, all anchored by the ever-popular St. Patrick’s Day Parade from midday on Thursday March 17th.  

The main event: Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2022

Returning to the streets of Dublin after a two year absence, there will be a distinct and much-missed international flavour to this year’s parade. Promising bigger creative builds, new artistic elements, a battalion of marching bands and more participants than ever before, the parade will trace a route from Parnell Street to Stephen’s Green through the heart of the city centre. 

“Connections” is the theme this year and organisers promise the 2022 parade will feature a fresh, ambitious and bold new vision and some of the pageant themes include “Inspire + Connect”, “Inclusion”, “Acceptance & Love” and “Traditions of the Sea”. 

The route will be lined with families, visitors and locals in every shade of green, silly hats, blowing whistles and waving tricolours – though the most traditional and simplest of ways to don your green is with a little tuft of shamrock affixed to the lapel or breast pocket. Smart visitors bring a rainjacket; they’ll probably also endure the annual downpour.

At the time of writing, it’s still a secret who the Grand Marshals (plural) of this year’s parade will be but over the past decade or so a diverse range of personalities have accepted the honour, including Westlife star Nicky Byrne, Olympians Katie Taylor and Annalise Murphy, actor-comedians Brendan O’Carroll, Deirdre O’Kane and Jason Byrne and sports legends like footballers Packie Bonner and John Giles and cyclist Stephen Roche.

For those who can’t line the streets in-person, RTÉ – Ireland’s national broadcaster – will be broadcasting the whole parade live for the millions of viewers at-home and abroad to watch on RTE Player.

Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.
St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin Ireland on March 17, 2014: People dress up Saint Patrick's at The Temple Bar
Join the Temple Bar throng or pre-book one of the many gigs and events on during the festival © Aitormmfoto / Shutterstock

What’s new for 2022?

New for 2022 is Festival Quarter, a five-day urban festival taking place at the Museum of Decorative Arts and History. Running day-to-night from March 16th to 20th, the line-up will see a host of artists, comedians, performers and DJs keeping the St. Patrick’s celebrations ongoing, including headliners Lyra, Ceilí Mór, Damien Dempsey, Soulé, Æ MAK, Neil Delamare and Le Boom with Glasshouse Orchestra. 

Across the grounds of the national heritage site will be various spaces housing diverse talents; two stage tents, a 3,000-capacity Main Stage as well as spaces for comedy, storytelling, food and crafts. Daytime events are all-ages, all free of charge and first come first served, however evenings (from 6pm) are for adults-only. 

Some evening events also require pre-purchased tickets, ranging from €10 to €20, on sale via stpatricksfestival.ie. A selection of the events will also be streamed live on the festival’s social media and on SPF TV (​​a St. Patrick’s Festival TV channel).

Highlights to reserve ahead include Lyra headlining on opening night, St. Patrick’s Eve Wednesday 16th March, whilst queens of the Dublin dancefloor Mother DJs will spin over at Spiegeltent Mór and Paradise Cabaret’s comically absurd show will hold court at Spiegeltent Beag. Céilí Mór will command the main stage throughout Thursday (St. Patrick’s Day) with the Shandrum Ceili Band, Jiggy and The Bonneymen before Neil Delamare and Grace Mulvey bring the laughs throughout St. Patrick’s Night. 

Friday 18th March is a special, one-off designated public holiday in Ireland this year and Damien Dempsey will take to the main stage alongside Adam Mohamed while Dublin Comedy Improv and Fred Cooke are at the Craic House. 

On Saturday 20th March, sing (or lipsync) your heart out to classics with Sing Along Social, the popular zero-commitment karaoke choir aimed at those for whom singing is not a first language. Comedians Kevin McGahern and Emma Doran will take to the Craic House whilst the main stage will welcome Malaki, Thumper and guests. 

A barman in Murrays pub on Grafton street checks the head on a pint of Guinness on June 29, 2020 in Dublin, Ireland. Restaurants, pubs, cafes and hairdressers were among the businesses that can open across Ireland today provided they can observe social distancing rules to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
Checking the head on a pint of Guinness at Murrays pub on Grafton Street © Charles McQuillan / Getty Images

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 the city, but local Dubliners 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. However, for a much more local vibe, try The Stag’s Head for trad sessions, spill out on the street around Kehoe’s, go back in time at the 250-year-old The Long Hall, or have a drink and a street-side ham and cheese “toasted special” sandwich at Grogan’s.

Follow the scent of roasted barley (and a little hops and malt, but barley is the dominant and familiar note) to the Guinness Storehouse where the Gravity Bar is one of the best places to get an incredible view of the city whilst supping “a pint of plain”. The seven storeys of the country’s top visitor attraction will be celebrating from 16th to 20th March with its own programme of Irish music, history, food and dance. Book ahead as it is sure to be one of the busiest weekends of the year. 

Great gigs to check out over the long weekend

Most locals head back to their neighborhoods in the early evening on St. Patrick’s Day, leaving mostly tourists in the city center to continue the party but if you’re looking for a great gig to sneak off to in the evening try The Mary Wallopers at Vicar Street or Allie X at the Academy. At the 3 Arena in the Docklands during St. Patrick’s week you’ll find Fatboy Slim on Wednesday 16th, Burna Boy on St. Patrick’s night and Hans Zimmer on Sunday 20th. Tori Amos is also in town on Friday 18th at the historic and ornately decorated 3 Olympia Theatre

You will find a slew of St. Patrick’s Festival-supported live events, exhibitions and club nights across Dublin city on the online portal at stpatricksfestival.ie which will list details of many celebrations, sessions, events and activities across different venues and clubs from a range of promoters, artists, cultural institutions and arts organizations.

St. Patrick's Day Parade
Children blowing horns at a St. Patrick's Day Parade in Boston USA © Angela Rowlings / Media News / Boston Herald via Getty

Watch festivities online from anywhere in the world

After pivoting to broadcasting online for 2021, St. Patrick’s Festival TV (SPF TV) has more than 50 pre-recorded programmes on stpatricksfestival.ie, all accessible globally, free-of-charge, on-demand and with closed captions (many with sign language). Some of the highlights include the iconic Abbey Theatre’s production of Windows & Walls by Rosaleen McDonagh, The Book of Names by Landmark Productions and ANU, performances by Richard Fearless and Dáithí among others, an Alternative Dublin Street Art Tour, reimagining Irish cuisine with chef Tadhg Byrne and a host of talks and workshops. 

You might also like: 
How to find ‘real’ traditional Irish music⁠ in Dublin 
The top 25 things to do in Dublin
How to get around in Dublin
 

This article was first published February 2019 and updated February 2022

Buy Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022

Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022 ranks the world’s must-visit countries, cities and regions to provide a year's worth of travel inspiration.

Buy Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2022

Explore related stories