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Courtesy of St. Patrick's Festival
Courtesy of St. Patrick's Festival
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How the Irish Really Celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Dublin

Picture of Kate Phelan
Updated: 27 October 2017

The feast day of Ireland’s patron saint is celebrated in countries across the planet, but without a doubt, Dublin is ground zero for St. Patrick’s festivities. Read on to discover some of the ways the national holiday is marked in the Irish capital. 

The St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin runs for four days, with an expansive programme that aims to celebrate all things Irish. The central event is the annual main parade through Dublin city on the 17th, which in 2017 will take on the theme Ireland You Are

This year, the popular procession of street performers, musicians, dance troupes, marching bands and floats will make its way from Parnell Square down the east side of O’Connell Street, before following a newly extended route, which will finish at Kevin Street on the south side of the city.

The parade kicks off at 12 p.m., and attendees are advised to use public transport and arrive early – in 2016, over 500,000 people turned out for this colourful spectacular.

If the high-spirited energy of the parade is a little too manic for your tastes, a host of smaller events take place throughout Dublin to mark the day. Day-drinking is a central aspect of many people’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but those starting early are best-served by accompanying mid-day tipples with a good meal.

Accordingly, there are traditionally several boozy brunches to attend around the city on Paddy’s Day. This year, Brunch Club will host an event at The Odeon on Harcourt Street, with a complimentary brunch and cocktail for everyone through the doors before 1 p.m., and free entry into Krystle nightclub later in the evening.

Mojito | © Unsplash/Pixabay

Mojito | Pixabay

Undoubtedly, the stereotypical idea of a Paddy’s Day spent in Dublin revolves around drinking GuinnessIrish whiskey or another kind of beverage in some of the city’s many beloved pubs. The Irish tend to avoid the generally overpriced tourist hot spot of Temple Bar, heading instead for places like Grogans on South William Street or O’Donoghues on Merrion Row. If you want to get even closer to the source, the Guinness Storehouse will have live music, ceilí dancers, Guinness-infused food tastings and more on the day. Even better, if you are named Patrick – or Patricia – you’re entitled to free entry.

Although Dublin is undoubtedly one of the most fun and festive places to spend St. Patrick’s Day, do be aware that the bars, streets and public transport tend to be incredibly busy, and for this reason, many locals actually choose to steer clear of the city centre for much of the day.

For those who would rather do something a bit different for Paddy’s day, there are plenty of events that depart from the traditional (drunken) tack. Those with lots of energy can participate in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Harbour to Harbour walk from Howth to Dún Laoghaire (or vice versa), which raises funds for the depression support charity Aware. The route takes in some of the best views of the Dublin coast, and the Dublin Port Company will hold a ‘Halfway Hooley’ at the mid-point, with music and food.

At Wigwam on Abbey Street, there will be a free all-day party departing from all the green and shamrocks, dedicated instead to celebrating the year 1991. At the first in a series of Reeling In Your Ears events honouring certain years, guests will enjoy a playlist of 1991 tunes from the likes of Nirvana, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and Michael Jackson. In a nod to the national holiday, there will also be games of Guinness Pong.

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And if you’d rather steer clear of the city centre altogether – or if you’re a diehard foodie – the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival in Howth is an even more low-key alternative, where you can sample some of the freshest seafood around. In the evening, the pubs and restaurants in the village put on special fixed-price menus and host live entertainment. Foodies should also check out the Spirit of Dublin Food & Craft Fair, taking place at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery on the 18th, with exhibits by artisan Irish food and craft producers.