The St Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland is a unique event that unites locals and visitors in a carnival atmosphere of music, dancing and partying; and leaves the world green with envy. Expanded in recent years from a one-day holiday to a six-day event, the St Patrick's Festival brings people together from all over the world to celebrate all things Irish. The centrepiece of the Festival is, of course, the St Patrick's Day Parade; an event that has been copied the world over.
The 1.5 mile St Patrick's Day Parade route winds its way from Parnell Square on the city's north side, down O'Connell Street (the city's main thoroughfare), past the Spire of Dublin, over the River Liffey and up to Trinity College, before heading down historic Dame Street to finish at St Patrick's Cathedral. On March 17th each year, crowds in excess of half a million people line these streets to see thousands of dancers, marching bands, musicians and other performers; as well as parade floats of every colour. The six-day St Patrick's Festival programme is packed with many other events, including street theatre, traditional and contemporary Irish music, dance, comedy, film, a treasure hunt, Irish language events, and all kinds of spectacles for family fun.
Keep an eye out for the National Lottery Skyfest, Ireland's biggest and best fireworks display which lights up a different town or city each year during the St Patrick's Festival. Families will be sure to enjoy the Big Day Out, in which Merrion Square, one of the city's prettiest enclosed parks, is transformed into a gigantic play area made up of ten different family-fun zones. City slickers will want to head down to the up-and-coming Docklands area where street performances and many cosmopolitan bars, cafés and restaurants offer a night to remember by the edge of the River Liffey. Culture fans have a host of different events to enjoy around the capital during the St Patrick's Festival, with film screenings, traditional Irish concerts and comedy nights.
No trip to the St Patrick's Day Parade would be complete without visiting one of the city's many traditional pubs. Visitors are sure to find a venue packed with good music, good people and good craic (fun) around a pint of the famous black stuff.
When to Go to St Patricks Parade Dublin
St Patrick's Festival is the busiest week of the year for tourism in Dublin, so be sure to book flights and accommodation well in advance. Seventy-eight different airlines from around the world fly to Dublin Airport, the country's main airport hub. Check online to get the cheapest deals. Transport from the airport is straightforward, with dedicated Aircoach buses offering direct transfers to the city and principal hotels for €12 (US$18) return. Getting around the city centre itself is best done by a combination of light rail, bus, train and on foot, depending on your destination. If you're planning to rent a car during your stay, be aware that hire and fuel costs are above average, and there is plenty of traffic!
Odds n' Ends
Spring comes late in Ireland, so come with plenty of layers and expect rain showers. The 2009 St Patrick's Day Parade took place under bright sunshine, but this was certainly an exception!
If you're bringing a Blackberry or other Java-enabled mobile phone, you can download an interactive events guide with venues, times and ticket prices directly from the St Patrick's Festival website at no extra cost.
To get the best view of the St Patrick's Day Parade, you can book Grand Stand seats at the starting point on Parnell Square. The seats, which are set up each year outside Dublin City Gallery, offer the perfect vantage point for all the bands, floats and dancers. Tickets are €60 each from the St Patrick's Festival website.
Want a Guide?
- Shamrocker Adventures
- This tour company offers a range of different tours coinciding with the St Patrick's Festival of up to eight days. Their Monks n' Mountains package offers three nights in Dublin with trips to the St Patrick's Festival, Wicklow and Glendalough plus accommodation, transport and more for US$300 per person.
- Dublin Sightseeing Tour Bus
- If you're already in the city and looking for a way to catch all the main sights, then this official hop-on, hop-off tour bus is for you. Get on or off at 23 stops next to the most famous places in the city, with guided commentary in 10 languages. Tickets US$22 per adult, with 10% discount if you book online.
Places to Eat
- Gallagher's Boxty House
- The home of traditional Irish food right in the centre of the cultural and nightlife district, Temple Bar. Here you can try coddle, boxty or bacon and cabbage as well as more modern fare. A hearty Irish stew is about US$24.
- O'Briens Sandwich Bar
- Ireland's biggest deli chain has 21 outlets around the capital including 11 in the city centre. Perfect for a pit-stop lunch of sandwiches, soups and salads as well as coffees and pastries.
- Dunne & Crescenzi
- Established by an Italian-Irish couple with good taste, the Dunne & Crescenzi chain offers fine food, wine and coffees in four locations around the city. This is the place to go to escape the festival crowds and enjoy a quiet glass of wine in an authentic Italian atmosphere. A small plate of salami and cheese is just US$15.
Recommended Places to Stay
- Jurys Inn Hotels
- The three-star Jurys Inn hotel brand offers affordable quality rooms in three different areas of the city. All three are within walking distance of the main sights of the city centre. Rooms start at $100 for a two-person room.
- Harding Hotel
- This purpose-built boutique hotel offers a charming stay right in between Christchurch Cathedral and the Temple Bar district. Every room is ensuite with free wifi and refrigerator. Rates start at US$160.
- Isaacs Hostel Dublin
- This hostel was one of the first in the city and has just been renovated. It offers all the usual facilities as well as being close to the Luas light rail service and main bus and train stations. A bed in the largest dorm is $28, with reduced rates for stays of between one week and one month. Bring your guitar, because musicians who can play at the hostel stay for free!
Additional Places to Stay Nearby
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