If there’s one holiday that is synonymous with visiting Ireland, it must be St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, the Irish observe or celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin and across Ireland.
Celebrated on the 17th of March every year, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year to travel to Dublin. For centuries, the Irish have celebrated St. Patrick’s day as both a religious and social holiday, and today’s festivities include a massive parade, community events, and a whole lotta green.
I have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in other cities like Chicago, Seattle, and Indianapolis, but nowhere tops Dublin when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. I visited Ireland in 2013 and my trip overlapped with celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin; friends and I were able to experience this holiday at its source.
If you’re planning a trip to Ireland – to visit Dublin and/or for an Ireland road trip – and your dates happen to include St. Patrick’s Day, be sure to prioritize experiencing it. You won’t regret it when you find yourself standing among 500,000 fellow travelers and Irish people!
Based on my first-hand experience, here are my top tips for celebrating St. Patricks Day in Dublin, plus a timeline to help you plan your day.
Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin
Photo credit: Brendan Keenan via Flickr
Did you know that the festival of St. Patrick is actually a five-day event in Ireland? The main day, March 17th, has some special events, but you can definitely spread out the festival through several days if you choose.
Here are some tips to help you plan your own St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Dublin.
Tip #1: Book Accommodation in Dublin
Okay, I fall for this trap a lot:
- I wait too long to book, and nothing is available, and/or
- There are still accommodations available, but they a pot of gold. And/or all of my budget for the whole trip.
Thus, I typically decide to stay outside the city center and end up spending my vacation time taking public transit or walking back and forth. Boo!
First of all, plan ahead. That should be tip #2. Tip #2.5 is that, once you’ve planned ahead, book your stay in Dublin. Don’t stay on the outskirts of town; you’ll have a better trip and enjoy your whole experience of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin if you’re actually, ya know, in Dublin.
Here are some good Airbnbs, within a close walking distance of the parade route, the Ha’penny Bridge, and Temple Bar:
- “Vintage room 1 minute walking from Temple Bar!” (Private Room from $34/night)
- “Apt 4 Lower Ormond Quay” (Entire apartment from $84/night)
- “Large Bright Central Apt beside Ha’Penny Bridge” (Entire apartment from $117/night)
Protip: If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb before, click here to get $40 off your first stay!
You can also snag a hotel if that’s your style. The sooner you book, the better:
Tip #2: Pack Green
If you’re going to be in Dublin to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you’d better not get caught without green clothes. While you won’t get pinched (I don’t think…), there’s no better excuse to pull out all your favorite green items.
Need to stock up? Here are some of the green clothes I recommend:
I actually have a whole packing list for St. Patrick’s Day, which will make sure you have everything you need! As you can see above, my friends and I packed basically every green thing we owned (plus some green accessories we picked up in London on our way).
You can go as green as you like – you won’t stand out for wearing too much green on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin!
If you do forget to pack your own green ? plenty of street vendors sell beads and scarves and hats.
Tip #3: Arrive Early for the Parade
If you decide to attend (which I recommend below), get up early to get a good spot for the famous St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
The route through Dublin runs from near St. Mary’s Place (north of the river) to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (south of the river)It’s not too hard to find a spot along O’Connell Street, but it can be pretty crowded by the time the parade reaches this point in the route.
No matter what, you’ll see some amazing floats (like the whale, pictured above!), energetic leprechauns, and a lot of drunk foreigners wearing green.
Tip #4: Let the Guinness Flow
Some people want to let the good times roll; for St. Patrick’s Day, let’s let the Guinness flow! Like other European countries, Ireland is somewhat liberal in their alcohol laws, and St. Patrick’s Day is a perfectly reasonable day to start drinking in the morning.
If you’re visiting Dublin for three days, like I recommend, consider going early to take a tour of the Guinness Brewery or Jamieson Distillery. You can buy a ‘souvenir’ and enjoy it on St. Patrick’s Day. Having a drink can also help keep you warm – March mornings in Dublin can be chilly.
For the sake of transparency and as an example: during my trip to Dublin, I started celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a Shamrock Shake ☘️ from McDonald’s (and I FEEL NO SHAME ABOUT IT) after breakfast. Then had a couple pints of Guinness throughout the day. I ended up drinking an Irish Coffee with Jameson whiskey after the parade (see Tip #4) to warm back up, and had a few more drinks that evening during and after dinner when out in Temple Bar. It was certainly a long (and expensive) day, but it was not excessive. Don’t be that drunk American/Aussie!
An Itinerary to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin
With those tips in mind, you’re ready for the day itself! St. Patrick’s Day can be a very long day, so it’s important to decide what you want to do throughout the day. Here’s the timeline I followed when I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, and it’s a pretty good guide to help you make the most of this day.
9:00 am – Irish Breakfast
Photo credit: goblinbox via Flickr
Start your day with a hearty meal – you’ll need the energy to keep warm and going all day long. It’s not hard to find a local cafe or restaurant serving a Full Irish Breakfast, which consists of:
- Bacon (chewy, not crispy)
- Baked Beans
- Grilled Tomatoes
- Black pudding
- Toast (sometimes Irish soda bread)
- Butter & marmalade
This may look similar to an English Breakfast, but you’ll often find a distinctly Irish twist (like soda bread or black pudding) that makes it distinct.
If you can eat it all, you’ll be set for a whole day of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day!
10:00 am – Head to the Parade Route
Once you’re fueled up, make your way to the parade route. You’ll notice increasing crowds as you draw closer to the main part of the route, which is why I advise going this early. It’s better to stand around for an extra hour than be so far back you can’t see the parade!
11:00 am – St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Photo credit: Giuseppe Milo via Flickr
The Festival Parade is one of the highlights of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. This massive parade runs from north to south through the city, crossing the River Liffey at O’Connell Street. This is a great place to view the parade of floats, marching bands, and pageants, as the street is wide and there’s plenty of space – but you can still expect it to be crowded by the time the parade starts!
If you don’t love crowds, you can book a seat in the Grandstands instead, for €68 per person. There are three Grandstands:
- Parnell Square, near the beginning of the parade route
- Christ Church Cathedral, near the middle of the parade route
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral, near the end of the parade route
Depending on which one you pick will determine how long you wait for the parade to arrive and pass.
2:00 pm – Late Lunch & Warm Up
After the parade has passed, head to a local pub for lunch and to warm up (and a pint?). Most pubs will be quite busy, so you can expect a bit of a wait to get a seat and your food.
4:00 pm – Rest
You might not need it, I love a good mid-afternoon rest after a long day of standing out in the cold. This could mean popping into a local pub for another round with friends or heading back to your accommodations to rest.
If you don’t want to rest, consider walking around Dublin to see all of the buildings that are lit up green for St. Patrick’s Day.
5:00 pm – Dinner
For dinner, there are a variety of restaurants open on St. Patrick’s Day to cater to travelers in the area. You’ll have lots of options for different cuisines in Temple Bar, or you can pick a local pub for a more traditional meal.
7:00 pm – Drinks in Temple Bar
If you have the energy, head over to the popular Temple Bar district to enjoy a few more libations. Most pubs will have drink specials and be filled to the brim with others celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with silly behavior. You can expect a lot more ‘stereotypical’ St. Patrick’s Day behavior and spectacles (green beer, anyone?), but if you love nightlife, this is a bucket list experience.
As pubs in Dublin stay open until 1:30am, you can expect to carry on right until the end of St. Patrick’s Day, if you so choose. Just don’t forget to have a few glasses of water throughout the night, so that March 18th isn’t a complete loss as you recover from a haze of green fun.
Have fun as you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin!
This post was originally published in February 2017, and was updated in November 2018.
Featured photo credit: William Murphy via Flickr