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

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Dublin - Brendan Keenan via FlickrPhoto 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:

  1. I wait too long to book, and nothing is available, and/or
  2. 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:

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:
Booking.com

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

St. Patrick's Day 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

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Ireland - Irish Breakfast - goblinbox via FlickrPhoto 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:

  • Eggs
  • Bacon (chewy, not crispy)
  • Sausages
  • Mushrooms
  • Baked Beans
  • Grilled Tomatoes
  • Black pudding
  • Toast (sometimes Irish soda bread)
  • Butter & marmalade
  • Tea

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

St. Patrick's Day Parade - Giuseppe Milo via FlickrPhoto 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

3 Days in Dublin - 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

21 comments

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Sounds like such an awesome experience! I like that you outlined where to stay and where to bar-hop – very helpful for a first-timer! We won’t be there for St. Patrick’s Day, but we have been considering going to Dublin for our honeymoon this November!

-Clarissa @ The View From Here

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Dublin will be very cool for your honeymoon – you can also go see other parts of Ireland quite easily! Have a great time if you decide to go, and thanks for reading!

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Oh jeez! And I thought it was only North Americans who went bananas for St. Patty’s Day! Looks like so much fun!

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Haha well, most of the people celebrating in Ireland *aren’t* Irish… it’s a very touristy event!

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Omg what a blast!! I bet this was amazing!

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It was a great time, especially with friends 🙂

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This looks like such a fun time!! It sounds like you had a blast!

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What a fun thing to check off your bucket list! I’ve yet to make it to Dublin, but this would definitely be a great way to experience it.

Meaghan xx

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Some things are best experienced ‘at the source’ and this is one of them! Thanks for reading!

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I would love to go to Dublin! It looks like you had so much fun.

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We did have a great time! I hope you can make it someday 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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Thank you for updating this information in November. It inspired me to go ahead and book another trip to Dublin for St. Patrick’s Day 2019.

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Paige, Awesome!! Have an amazing time – I hope the weather is good this year!

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Hello Valerie! I really enjoyed your post and I am pumped to be spending St Patrick’s Day in Dublin this year! However, I am slightly worried about the safety for a solo female travellor during that period. Would you say that it is generally safe/unsafe or any tips you can provide? Your reply will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

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Lee, thanks for your comment! I hope you have a great time. I don’t think you’ll have any issues as a solo female traveler, as long as you employ common sense about the activities you do. For example, not leaving any drinks alone. I can’t think of any specific point that felt less safe, but you’ll just want to be aware and trust your instincts about anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable. People (mostly foreigners/tourists) will drink a lot and may get rowdy, so trust yourself when to get out of a situation and I think you’ll be fine.

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Having ben to Ireland about 15-18 times since 1994, I have been there/done that with the touristy places. You have an excellent blog. I stay in Kenmare for a couple of months in the summer which is non-touristy except for the buses at lunch time. Valerie, excellenet writing & photos! Thank you!

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Thank you so much for reading, Valerie! I’m glad, based on your experiences, my recommendations hold up!

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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.

English breakfast often has black pudding as it is as English as you can get and protected by the EU.(see Bury Black Pudding) However it has its history going back thousands of years in Europe including the British Isles.The only difference to an English breakfast would be the soda bread but when I was in Ireland you dont always get that so in essence it is more or less the same as an English breakfast. The English breakfast is very distinct from the European continental breakfast which is what really distinguish itself, what most Canadians and Americans eat is based on the English breakfast not the continental breakfast. In England you might get fried bread which is nice but that may make your stomach queasy later! So many of the foods are similar in England/Ireland/Wales/Scotland and some differences are regional in nature. Today we see the English pub curry as a staple of all pub menus and Turkish kebabs after a few late night pints. London is not typically British when I have been there you here many a foreign accent and get served by non British staff. American accents can be regularly heard. You need to get out of the cities like London to see the real culture as much as you do with Dublin. Temple bar was just full of Americans and other tourists with very over-priced drinks. Many of the Irish I spoke with wouldnt be caught dead in those tourists traps except to pick up drunk tourists once and awhile. (plus its too expensive) Their are some really nice pubs in Dublin away from the touristy areas where you get to meet the locals and experience some of the culture but its not at the Temple Bar. The partying bar hopping and drinking on St Patricks Day was an Irish-American thing never a big deal in Ireland or at least not how the Irish would traditionally celebrate St Patricks Day. Dublin and Temple Bar has become a place for weekend stag getaways from the UK. (with loads of drunkenness) American tourists naturally are catered for on St Patricks Day in these tourist traps to make them feel at home. (and easier to part with their cash) Ireland has a rich culture with very friendly people most of which will be found outside the Temple Bar district.

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Thanks so much for your insightful comment, Paul! I appreciate you reading and sharing so much!

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