Temple Bar in Dublin

The Ultimate Guide to St Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Did you know that St Patrick’s Day is one of the most widely celebrated national holidays in the world? Every year on March 17th, people across the globe throw on their finest green garments and glug rich, velvety Guinness in a nod to Irish culture. In previous years, the London Eye has been illuminated green and the Chicago River tinted emerald in homage to Erin’s Isle but, of course, the festivities are always at their peak in Dublin. Here’s a guide to the good stuff going on in Ireland’s capital on St Patrick’s Day 2017. Erin go bragh!

Where to stay

Malahide beach near Dublin
Image by Nicholas Raymond

If you’re planning to stay in Dublin around St Patrick’s Day, your best bet is to book well in advance. Last year, more overseas visitors than ever before came to Ireland for St Patrick’s Day, so finding last minute lodgings could prove tricky. Dublin is a wonderfully walkable city, with all the attractions and accommodation packed into a relatively small space.

If the luxurious hotels and quirky B&Bs in Dublin are fully booked, or you’d prefer a quieter base for your holiday, there are plenty of pretty places to lay your head just outside of the city centre. The picturesque seaside village of Malahide is home to a beautiful castle well worth visiting, while the bustling port town of Dun Laoghaire is perfect if you are looking to experience an authentic slice of Ireland. Both are a 30-minute drive or bus ride to the capital, so you won’t miss out on the St Patrick’s Day festivities.

Where to celebrate St Patrick

St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin
Image by José Manuel Armengod

It’s hard to believe that bars and pubs weren’t even allowed to open on St Patrick’s Day until the 1970s. For many Irish people the day still has strong religious significance, and no visit to Dublin would be complete without marveling at St Patrick’s Cathedral. With its striking spire, the church named after Ireland’s patron saint is one of the tallest and largest in Europe. The awesome architecture and stunning stained glass windows paint a perfect picture of the day’s spiritual significance.

St Patrick’s Day honours a man who, ironically enough, wasn’t even Irish. Born in Roman Britain around 385 AD, Patrick was kidnapped as a teenager and taken to Ireland as a slave. According to legend, he spent his life eradicating Paganism and converting Irish people to Christianity, driving all of the snakes out of Ireland and into the sea (in this allegory, the “snakes” were Druidic priests who had serpents tattooed on their forearms).

Where to party

St Patrick's Day celebrations in Dublin
Image by William Murphy

Unlike the rest of the world, St Patrick’s Day in Dublin lasts a lot longer than just one day. Although March 17th is the traditional holiday, the free St Patrick’s Day Festival has been the favourite fixture on Dublin’s social calendar since 1995. In 2017, the festival will take place over “four great days” between 16th-19th March. The partying is concentrated around the pubs at the famous Temple Bar area, but there is plenty more to do besides drinking the black stuff.

Iconic buildings including Trinity College are lit up in an event known as “greening the city”, so make sure you take a stroll around by night to soak up the sights. There’s an Irish Craft Beer Market, traditional Irish dancing, a treasure hunt for children, street performers, poetry readings, buskers, river boat races, music performances and stand up gigs from Ireland’s talent. The streets truly come alive in this celebration of pride, heritage and patriotism, so make sure you don’t miss out.

If you’d like to discover more about this amazing city, why not check out our Local’s Guide to Dublin?

Featured image by Daniel Dudek.