Paint the town green in the place where it all began and spend St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin this year. Join in the celebrations on 17th March when they whole country takes to the streets to show the world what the little island has to offer. Experience what it’s like to be Irish for the day and march with the masses as they celebrate their patron saint in the best way they know how – a massive party featuring an all-you-can-drink amount of booze. Here’s our ‘what to do in Dublin’ guide to the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
As the five-day festival’s main event, the parade is a vital element to the overall St. Patrick’s Day experience. Featuring a different theme each year, the impressive procession weaves through some of Dublin’s most iconic streets and historical landmarks. Combining street performers with Irish and international marching bands, local community groups, dancing majorettes and massive decorated floats, the parade is a spectacle of colour, fun and fantastic entertainment. Starting in Parnell Square North at 12 noon, the parade takes about two hours to complete its loop, finishing where Kevin Street meets Wexford Street in the heart of the city.
Greening the city
Wait until after dark and wander through the city streets in search of the green lights. In celebration of the country’s national holiday, most of the major buildings and important sights are illuminated by green lights. Head to locations such as Dublin Castle, the Government buildings and 3Arena to see the traditional ‘greening’ in full effect. As a show of appreciation for Irish culture, many cities around the world have followed suit and on the 17th March you’ll see great landmarks such as the Great Wall of China and the London Eye turn a shade of green, showing their support for the Emerald Isle.
Visit the home of St. Patrick
Take a break from festivities in the capital and head to the countryside to see the home of Ireland’s patron saint. Armagh hosts its own celebrations every year during its, ‘Home of St. Patrick Festival’ that is well worth the visit if you have a bit of time. Deemed the country’s spiritual capital due to its connections to the saint, the streets light up with music, dancing and varied displays of culture during this week long period. Explore Armagh’s County Museum and Robinson Library to learnt he history of the man that brought Christianity to the island and look around the artefacts and manuscripts that highlight the county’s leading role in early Irish Christianity. With two cathedrals named after him and the first church he ever built, Armagh is the ultimate experience if you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in the history of the holiday.
Get your dancing shoes on and be a part of the largest outdoor traditional ceili the country has ever seen. The free event celebrating traditional Irish dancing, language and music is held in Merrion Square and is suitable for everyone. Enjoy live music from the main stage and learn the steps from leading figures in Irish dancing while they are demonstrated by local community dance schools. Drink in the authentic atmosphere and pretend you’re in Riverdance for the afternoon with this unmissable event in the city centre.
Throughout the week, museums and other heritage sights hold free workshops centred around the history of the festivities. There’s plenty of free things to do in Dublin so take advantage and join in interactive workshops, walking tours of Dublin’s most famous landmarks and relax at one of the city’s numerous film screenings. Be sure to pick up a programme from the festival’s organisers or check out what’s on online.
Seen by locals as a notoriously touristy area, there’s still no denying the immersive Irish experience you are guaranteed when drinking in Temple Bar. Nestled on the south bank of the river, the cobbled streets and traditional music spilling out of every bar are unrivalled throughout the city. The heart of Dublin nightlife, you definitely won’t struggle to find a place for a pint. Try local favourites, The Temple Bar Pub, The Foggy Dew and The Porterhouse.
Just before you reach Temple Bar, Dame Street is another great one to grab a Guinness. Close to the famous Trinity College and former Central Bank of Ireland, this street is home to an abundance of traditional pubs. Walking distance from both Grafton and O’Connell street, dip into The Stag’s Head for a pint of the black stuff.
Known for its plethora of watering holes, Baggot Street is the ultimate location to start the party with a pub crawl. A little out from the city’s main streets, the stretch of road from Upper to Lower Baggot Street is nicknamed the ‘Baggot Street Mile’ – a tried and tested route whereby you have one pint in 12 pubs. Kick off the weekend in O’Donoghues and see where the night takes you!
The Brazen Head – 20 Bridge St. Lower
Don’t leave without visiting Ireland’s oldest pub on the outskirts of the city centre. The Brazen Head is a hive of history and culture that will serve you up a slice of tradition to compliment your pint. Playing live music seven days a week, the pub also hosts a folklore and storytelling dinner show – the perfect introduction to traditional Irish culture.
The Fitzwilliam Hotel – 128 St. Stephen’s Green
Located at the top of Grafton Street opposite Stephen’s Green, this hotel is ideal for a weekend stay. With its central location you’ll be minutes away from the action and won’t miss a thing.
The Shelbourne Dublin – 27 St. Stephen’s Green
Facing the green’s south entrance, the Shelbourne is a more upscale hotel perfect for a treat. One of the most iconic buildings in the capital, the hotel is a great middle man between Merrion Square and Grafton Street and its bars and restaurants are a local favourite.
Hotel Riu Plaza The Gresham Dublin – 23 O’Connell St. Upper
Set in the heart of the city, stay at this hotel to watch the parade pass through one of Dublin’s most well-known streets. With the Spire on your doorstep and Croke Park and Temple Bar a short walk away, this is a great hotel to book into for the duration of the festival.
Travelling around the city during the festival period couldn’t be easier. There are various modes of transport such as the LUAS, Dublin bus and rail services to get you from zone to zone. Take the Aircoach into the city centre from Dublin airport and look into purchasing a 72 hour travel pass which gives you unlimited access to the Hop On Hop Off tours and all Dublin bus services.
Heading to Ireland this St. Patrick’s Day? Make sure to tag us in your photos of what’s on in Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day using the hashtag #ryanairstories for the chance to be featured on Ryanair’s Instagram feed.
Flights to Dublin
- Lucy Norris