Heading to Dublin this St Patrick’s Day? You’re not alone. More than 100,000 visitors are expected to join many more locals for the biggest party in the country in 2019. This year’s holiday falls on a Sunday which means that Monday 18 March is a national holiday, and the streets and pubs will be buzzing with people enjoying the long weekend for three full days.
As well as the famous parade on Sunday, there’s a full schedule of events to suit every taste held under the banner of St Patrick’s Festival (14-18 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 break sometimes – some of the best experiences 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 Sunday is the main event for many. Starting at noon in Parnell Sq, it heads along O’Connell St and Dame St, travelling around St Patrick’s Cathedral and ending at Kevin Street. 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. To ensure you have the best view, you could treat yourself to a grandstand ticket which is available online for €68. There are also designated areas for people with special needs which you can pre-register for.
The parade lasts two hours in total, but if you stay in the one spot you’ll see it all in about 45 minutes. This year’s theme is ‘Storytelling’ and 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. When the last float finally waves goodbye, the crowd melts away, with many heading for the nearest pub.
For more outdoor fun, Custom House Quay will host a funfair 16-18 March full of carousels, waltzers and bumper cars. Or you could simply wander the city at night and count how many green buildings you find; dozens of iconic sites will be bathed in emerald light for the occasion.
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 ticketed events, leaving mainly visitors to carry on the boisterous overindulgence until the bars close at 3am.
Let your competitive spirit out
To get a glimpse into the exciting world of Gaelic sports, make a date to watch the All-Ireland Club Championship finals on the Sunday. 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. Tickets are 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 Wales on the Saturday at 2.45pm. The match itself will be played in Cardiff 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 through Georgian Dublin kicking off at noon from St Stephen’s Green South on the Monday. You can register online prior to the event. For a slower pace (but better views) sign up for Sunday’s Harbour 2 Harbour Walk between Howth and Dun Laoghaire. At 26 kilometres, it will take all day but all the family, pets included, are welcome.
Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair, Ireland’s largest craft beer festival, will be taking over the Convention Centre from Thursday to Saturday. There will be more than 400 brews to sample and plenty of food stalls to provide much-needed soakage. There will also be big screens set up so you won’t need to miss the all-important rugby matches while you wander.
Join fellow beer lovers at Ireland's biggest brew festival, Alltech Craft Brews and Food Fair © Cian Redmond
If you’ve partied too much on Saturday night, there are a few special brunches to book into for a cure on Sunday morning. The Tram Cafe is hosting a jazz brunch at 2.30pm, Odeon Bar is running a hip-hop brunch at noon, or you can enjoy a meal and a drag show in Rathmines at the Pot Bellied Pig.
History and culture
There are two history walks taking place at various times over the St Paddy's weekend. Historian Pat Liddy will follow in the footsteps of the saint himself via the city’s medieval cathedrals. For something more contemporary, activist Tony Walsh will lead tours of historic gay Dublin on Saturday and Sunday.
In keeping with the storytelling theme of the festival, there's also a series of events from Abair (meaning ‘to talk’ in Irish) exploring Dublin’s social history through song. All these events (and many more) are bookable online.
The beat goes on
There are plenty of after-dark events to keep night owls happy. 90’s kids will enjoy a throwback at Opium on Friday with Sasha playing at 10pm. Pygmalion will be hosting two big names: techno DJ Paul Woodford on Friday and a double-header of Matador and house duo Âme on Saturday. D1 recordings, a label that have been instrumental in the Dublin electronic scene, are also celebrating their 25th anniversary on Sunday at Yamamori Tengu with six hours of music in three rooms.
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