Everything You Need to Know About Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin

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Every year, more than 100,000 visitors travel to Dublin to take part in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities. And if you’re one of the lucky people who’re heading there for the craic this year, you’re in for a treat. Want to know how to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day like a local whilst you’re staying with us in Dublin? Here’s everything you need to know.

When is St. Patrick’s Day and Why Do We Celebrate it?

St. Patrick’s Day (also known as the Feast of St. Patrick) takes place annually on the 17th of March. This date marks the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The day commemorates the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, though in recent history, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved to become a secular celebration of Irish culture. It’s been a public holiday in Ireland since 1903, and is celebrated by Irish communities around the world – more than any other national festival in fact.

St. Patrick was a 5th century Christian missionary. Born in Roman Britain, it’s thought that he came to Ireland after being captured and enslaved by Irish pirates. He spent six years working as a shepherd, before fleeing from his captors and heading back to Britain. He later returned to Ireland – this time as a free man and Christian missionary – where he converted the pagan Irish to Christianity.

Today, St. Patrick is Ireland’s foremost saint. Credited for using the three-leaved clover to describe the Holy Trinity to non-believers, he’s the reason why we associate shamrocks with Ireland. Legend also has it that he banished snakes from the country by chasing them into the sea, though since there’s scant evidence that Ireland ever had snakes, the story’s more likely to be a metaphor for St. Patrick’s eradication of pagan ideologies.


 

How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Alongside the famous parade, there’s always a full schedule of events that take place around the city (from the 14th – 18th). Ask anyone and they’ll tell you; stay for a good few days and always book ahead, especially if there’s something that you’re desperate to see (unsurprisingly, it can get pretty busy). Oh, and don’t pinch anyone who isn’t wearing green whilst you’re out and about; it’s only a tradition in America.

See the St. Patrick’s Day Parade
For many, the St. Patrick’s Day parade – which begins at 12pm on Sunday 17th – is the main event. So don your best green garb (though avoid wearing a ‘kiss me, I’m Irish’ t-shirt, trust us) and join the fun. Expect to see street theatre and pageant companies performing their own interpretations of this year’s theme (which is ‘Storytelling’); Irish and international bands always provide the musical score, as upwards of 500,000 people watch the parade go by.

Starting at Parnell Square, the procession continues along O’Connell Street and heads down Dame Street; it then travels past St. Patrick’s Cathedral, before ending at Kevin Street. The parade always draws huge crowds, so get there for about 10am if you want a decent view. If you do arrive later, make your way towards the end of the parade route for a prime spot. You can also buy a grandstand ticket for €68 if you want an uninterrupted view of the action. There are designated areas for those with special needs too, which you can pre-register for. The parade lasts 2 hours, but if you stay in one spot, you’ll see it all in about 45 minutes.

Take a Trip to the Guinness Storehouse
During St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, around 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed worldwide (on an average day, 5.5. million pints are sold). Visits to the Guinness Storehouse are extremely popular throughout the year (it’s home to the world-famous ‘Black Stuff’ after all) and unsurprisingly, the brewery ramps it up a notch come St. Paddy’s Day.

One of the main highlights is The Guinness Supper Club, which returns this year to delight guests with an evening of delicious food and (you guessed it), great beer. Diners will also enjoy live music and the kind of ambience that you’d expect from one of the festival’s most popular events. Taking place on the 14th and 16th from 7.30-10pm, it’s the perfect way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in good company. Tours of the Guinness Storehouse aren’t included, but the venue is open to the public every day from 9.30am-7pm. If you’d like to visit it separately, you’ll need to book beforehand.

Walk Through History
There are two historic walking tours taking place during the festival. You can trace the footsteps of St. Patrick himself with historian Pat Liddy, who’ll be offering guided tours around the city’s medieval cathedrals: Christ Church & St. Patrick. Meeting at St. Andrew’s Street, this 2 hour tour explores the legacy of St. Patrick via some of Dublin’s most ancient sites.

For a more contemporary view of the city, civil rights activist Tonie Walsh will be leading a ‘Tour of Historic Gay Dublin.’ Starting at Trinity College, the tour explores the socio-cultural and political life of the city from an LGBT+ perspective, covering topics like the decriminalisation of homosexuality and marriage equality. It’ll be taking place at 5pm on the 14th and 15th March, and at 1pm on the 16th. For more information, or to book a place on either of these tours, visit the festival’s events page.

Soak Up Some Culture
St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just about pub crawls and the parade; at its core, it’s about celebrating Ireland’s culture and heritage. And if (or when) you feel like being sober, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in this side of things too.
To tie in with the festival’s ‘Storytelling’ theme, there’ll be a series of events from Abair (taken from the Irish word meaning ‘to say’ and also ‘to sing’), which celebrates Dublin’s social history through song. Over the four days, you’ll find unplugged performances exploring the richness of Ireland’s oral folk traditions. Some of these events even include a ‘songs from the floor’ section, where audience members can contribute a song or story of their own, providing that it’s relevant to the theme (no, it’s nothing like karaoke).
And for fans of anything ‘fringe,’ there’s plenty to get your teeth into. You’ll find theatre, dance, comedy and arts events in venues across the city. The full schedule is extensive, so you’ll have to whittle it down to your top picks, but it’s definitely worth making time to see at least one or two things from the calendar.

Keep the Party Going
Hey, it wouldn’t be a proper celebration without a few late nights would it? Kick-start (or finish) your evening at the Generator bar; we’ve got drinks specials on all day, deals on burgers and pints, Irish DJ’s (from 10am until late) and – in case you didn’t get the memo to dress up – face painting stations (with surplus green, orange and white paints).
Since we’re less than 15 minutes away from Temple Bar on foot, you can easily head out into the heart of the action if you fancy it. Expect crowds though; the area is famously raucous on St. Patrick’s Day – you’ve been warned!

Unsurprisingly, some of Dublin’s most popular late-night venues like The Grand Social, The Workman’s Club and The Button Factory  are all hosting their own St. Paddy’s Day shenanigans too. In short, the city turns into one big party come Sunday; you’ll stumble across entertainment wherever you happen to be.
Everyone should experience St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin at least once; there’s so much to see and do, whatever you’re into. And if you’re heading to the city in time for this year’s festivities, well, we’ll see you at the bar!