So you’re planning to spend New Year in Dublin? A fine choice. From the obvious allure of the pub scene to a popular and fast-growing annual New Year’s Festival, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to ways to spend your time. Aside from the obligatory pint of the ‘black stuff’, there’s bargain shopping, gigs and fringes of the licensing laws to play around with while you’re in town.
It’s worth noting that prices will increase for New Year, and some pubs have started charging entry fees or even selling tickets just to get in the door on the big night. Of course, you won’t be able to do anything close to all of these suggestions (most of which are very much about having a heady evening out, but hey, that’s Dublin), so treat them as a menu of ways to see in another great year…
Countdown at The Custom House
Dublin will come to life for New Year’s Eve, with O’Connell Street’s Spire (jokingly called ‘the stiffy on the Liffey’) given added laser beams, and soaring flyboarders set to hit the river. The light-up highlight will be on the beautiful Custom House, however, and (new for this year), there will even be a 6.30pm countdown matinee for the kids. Both that and the main event at 11.30pm are free, and will feature lights beaming from land and water, plus acrobats and music.
The Custom House, North Dock, Dublin 1, Ireland, +353 1888 2000
Attend Dublin New Year’s Eve Festival
The countdown concert at Custom House Quay is in its fourth year, and has traditionally featured Ireland’s biggest up-and-coming acts (no U2 or Hozier, sadly). This year has gone pretty big in terms of international acclaim though, with rising north-Dubliners Kodaline due to play the peak countdown slot, with support from formerly prolific Dublin buskers turned local stars Keywest, and brotherly tour-de-force Hudson Taylor. It’s one big outdoor poppy party.
Catch Delorentos at Whelan’s
They might sound like a type of Spanish cuisine, but Delorentos are in fact Ireland’s finest indie-pop band, and they’re hosting a run-through of their finest tales of love and life to welcome 2018, ahead of the launch of their new album. These guys are big enough to have toured half the globe (they’re particularly beloved in Mexico), but small enough to make this an intimate venue where they’re absolutely adored locally. That, and Whelan’s is an icon of Ireland’s indie scene, a real must-see.
Wheland’s, 25 Wexford St, Dublin 2, Ireland, +353 1478 0766
Find a lock-in
Here’s a travel challenge for you: most Dublin pubs officially close in the early hours (around 1am to 2am) regardless of whether it’s New Year or not! They’re famed, though, for their ‘lock-ins’ – a sneaky exploitation of the law which involves closing the doors at closing time, and continuing to serve as part of a ‘private party’ inside. The rules are simple: if you’re in at closing time, you’re in. But if you leave at any point, you’re out for good. We can’t tell you where to go, as no pub will ever advertise these nights (and we don’t want to get anyone in trouble), but they’re common and wild. Ask around.
Grab hold of the last of Christmas with the Gaiety Panto
This Dublin Christmas institution has been a constant at the Gaiety Theatre since the 1870s, and runs from late November to early January. Why so long? Because it’s relentlessly popular. The 2017 version is Rapunzel, performed by an assortment of Irish TV and theatre stars, as well as long-standing panto dame Joe Conlan. It’s for the kids, mainly, but it’s never anything less than fiercely entertaining.
Gaiety theatre, South King St, Dublin 2, Ireland, +353 818 719 388
Look backwards with a glance at Irish history
There’s so much to uncover around the city, from tales of the revolution and the times of the famine (including the story of the ships that took the Irish to America), to a glance at the impact of the incredible Gaelic Athletics Association. You can even disguise a trip to the Guinness Storehouse as a historical, educational experience: the impact of the brand on Ireland is astonishing, ranging from the canals to the advertising. History today, new you tomorrow…
Go traditional with a trip to Christchurch
Generations of Dubliners have seen in the New Year in one of the city’s cathedrals. Christchurch is only a stone’s throw from the debauchery of Temple Bar, but this is a peaceful pursuit, where people calmly wait for midnight in a serene setting, anticipating the iconic New Year’s bells ringing out over the city. If you’re looking for a slightly different take on the evening, it’s beautiful, slow-paced and a perfect introduction to a year you might plan to spend a little differently.
Shop till you drop
Black Friday doesn’t exist in a big way in Ireland: it has edged in over recent years, but with no Thanksgiving, it doesn’t really make sense to have a sale based entirely around it. Traditionally, sales have appeared after Christmas (as early as 26 December in some cases – yes, we feel sorry for retail workers, too), but run well into the New Year. Grafton Street is becoming an increasingly essentially European shopping destination, with designers galore, department stores and the odd boutique element to explore. Why not dive in while it’s cheap?
Run 5km for charity
The ERP Xmas Cracker Run is an annual seasonal tradition, put together in aid of ALONE, a charity that supports local elderly people who are spending the holiday season by themselves. Starting and finishing at Morton Stadium in Santry, North Dublin, it also takes in parts of a former European Cross Country Championship course and has a few spot prizes to keep you motivated. It finishes comfortably early enough to allow you to prepare to hit the town.
Morton Stadium, Swords Rd, Santry, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1862 0635
Hit Dublin’s hippest night out
Bodytonic has been putting on classy electronic events in the city for as long as we can remember, and were originally closely associated with fondly remembered (but now defunct) city-centre club Twisted Pepper. They’ve gone on to bigger things, though, and their New Year’s party at Wigwam sees the return of Fort Romeau to the city, with the frantic house/ trance DJ (formerly a member of synth pop act La Roux) promising to bring in 2018 with a shape-throwing bang.
Wigwam, 54 Abbey Street Middle, Dublin, Ireland, +353 1873 4020