As well as the famous parade on Saturday, there’s a full schedule of events to suit every taste held under the banner of St Patrick’s Festival (15-19 March), so you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained. If you read about something you simply can’t miss, it’s a good idea to book in advance. And don’t forget to take a breather – some of the best times in Dublin happen when you relax and throw the itinerary out the window.
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated all over the world but we do things a little differently here. Forget about the dyed beer and definitely don’t pinch anybody if they’re not wearing green (you’ll get strange looks at best). Instead, hit the streets, learn what it means to have the craic and make friends with locals and travellers alike.
The St Patrick's Festival Parade on Saturday 17 March is the main event for many. Starting at noon in Parnell Sq, it heads along O’Connell St and Dame St, ending at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Huge crowds are expected, so aim to be there for 10am if you want a place at the front. If you arrive later, head towards the end of the parade route for a better chance of a prime viewing spot.
The parade lasts two hours, but if you stay in the one spot you’ll see it all in about 45 minutes. As well as music and marching bands from all over the world, there’ll be plenty of colourful floats, dancers and costumes, not always as classically Irish as many visitors expect. You’ll get plenty of time to take it all in as the parade stops at various points for the marchers to show off their beats and tail feathers. When the last float finally waves goodbye, the crowd melts away, with many heading for the nearest pub.
For more outdoor fun, scenic Merrion Square plays host to a a funfair (17-19 March) starting at 11am each day and joined, from noon, by street theatre, music, crafts and activities in the Irish language.
Hit the pubs
Despite (or because of) its reputation, most Dubliners prefer to stay away from (in)famous Temple Bar on Paddy’s Day. It’s expensive compared to other areas of the city and can get overcrowded, but the sea of leprechaun hats is a sight to behold so why not stroll through Essex St East and soak up the atmosphere before exploring some of the best bars elsewhere in the city.
Everywhere in the city will be busy this weekend but at least outside Temple Bar you won’t have to battle so hard to make your way to the bar and you’ll see a lot more of Dublin. Alternatively head to nearby Dame Lane off George’s St, where you can stroll between pubs with a pint in hand, ready to mingle.
Most Dubs leave the city centre by 6pm to retire to quieter locals or go to gigs, leaving mainly visitors to carry on the boisterous overindulgence until the bars close at 3am.
Thisispopbaby, one of the nation’s most iconoclastic performance collectives, take over the Complex from 6 to 18 March, showcasing a host of new plays, topical talks, local art and photography and screenings of Irish film.
Also on the cultural agenda is a special Irish and Russian collaboration of Puccini’s Tosca, playing 14-18 March at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. An Irish actress will play the leading role on three of the nights, with a Russian leading lady for the other two performances.
Gaelic games and a Sunday road race
To get a glimpse into the exciting world of Gaelic sports, make a date to watch the All-Ireland Club Championship finals on Saturday 17 March. This, the season's climax, is held in hallowed Croke Park, and you’ll see the most dedicated amateur athletes in the world battle it out in the ancient games of hurling and Gaelic football to bring pride to their local town.
Dublin’s Cuala won their first title last year after dominating their Clare opponents and are in with a fighting shot at the title this year. Tickets go on sale online, but they sell out fast so if you miss out, get close to the action and supporters (and a pint) in Mulligan’s.
The nation will undoubtedly be gripped by the Six Nations rugby clash with our oldest rivals England, kicking off on Saturday 17 at 2.45pm. The match itself will be played in Twickenham, southwest London, but pubs in Dublin will be full of ardent fans who didn’t make the trip. The Living Room has one of the biggest screens to televise sports, as well as a huge beer garden with tiered seating to allow great views. On the other side of the city, check out the atmosphere in Slattery’s in D4.
If you’d prefer to be a participant rather than a spectator, dust off the running shoes and shake off the hangover by joining the 5km road race kicking off at noon from St Stephen’s Green South on Sunday 18. You can register online prior to the event.
Fresh seafood in hustle-free Howth
Here you’ll find all the best local restaurants serving fresh seafood from stalls, as well as plenty of music and activities. If it’s sunny, bring comfortable shoes to explore some of Howth’s hiking trails.
The beat goes on
Kormac is one of Ireland’s most famous producer-DJs and now he’s turning his hand to composing, bringing a specially commissioned night of music to Vicar Street with the help of special guest stars and a full chamber orchestra. Expect something special.
For night owls, Pygmalion will be hosting two big names for their birthday weekend: house DJ Detroit Swindle on Friday 16 and house duo Âme on Sunday 18. Electronic house duo Klangkarussell are headlining the Button Factory on Sunday. For heavier techno beats, District 8 has Enrico Sangiuliano on Friday, while Saturday will be an all-day techno block party over three stages.
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