The Irish Princess…
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland has always been something that I have wanted to do in life. Even though I don’t have a written down bucket list, being there for St. Patrick’s Day was definitely on my “mental bucket list” of things to do in life before I die.
I wanted to go partly because of my Irish ancestry and partly because I could only imagine how great of a party it would be. I knew that it must be at least 10 times as crazy as St. Patrick’s Day festivities that I have been a part of back home. Finally in March 2014 my wish/dream came true thanks to the Ireland Tourism board who brought me over to promote/celebrate the festival and the city. Let me tell you that, that was one of the quickest emails that I have ever replied to.
Before I get into the tips and tricks I learned for getting the most out of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin I must share some interesting history and facts about the very day and the man himself.
A modern day St Patrick hanging out with some ladies.
March 17th was the actual date of the day Saint Patrick died in 461AD.
St. Patrick’s Day weekend was/is traditionally the potato planting weekend in Ireland.
St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in all of Ireland as well as in Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada.
St. Patrick was born British and first visited Ireland when he was taken there as a slave by Irish raiders whom he later escaped from. After returning home he became a priest and later returned to Ireland to turn the pagan Irish into Christians.
The colour of St. Patrick was originally blue, but was later changed to green in reference to the shamrock he wore and used to explain the holy trinity to the pagans and also it relates to Irish nationalism.
St. Patrick’s day began as a religious holiday and until the 1970s bars and pubs in Ireland weren’t allowed to even be open on St. Patrick’s day. Rumour has it that Americans are the ones who turned it into somewhat of a drinking fest and are the first to celebrate it with a parade.
The first St. Patrick’s day parade in New York dates back to 1762 and it is now the largest and longest in the world.
My view of the parade from the double decker bus that I got to ride on IN the parade!!
1. Book way in advance. Just like with any other big festival around the world like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Brazil or Oktoberfest in Germany people plan to visit these events way in advance. Book your flights and accommodations in Dublin as far in advance as possible.
2. Bring your green stuff. Before you head to Ireland go shopping at home and pick up some green clothes and accessories. There are many places to buy this stuff in Dublin as well but if you have it in advance you won’t be scrambling the day of.
3. Plan at least five days in Dublin. The St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin last longer than just one day. The 17th of March is the traditional holiday but leading up to the big day is the St. Patrick’s Festival when there are so many more things to see and do in the city aside from just drinking and enjoying the parade.
Dublin’s Christ Church lit up in green for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities
St. Patrick’s Festival Events
- Many iconic buildings around the city are dressed up in green lights each night. Known as “Greening the City” take a stroll and check it out.
- Have a few tasty bites of food and enjoy some delicious local brews at the the Irish Craft Beer Market
- Learn some Irish dancing at the Festival Céilí
- Solve clues and puzzles around the city as you explore some of Dublin’s highlights while competing in the St. Patrick’s Festival Treasure Hunt
- Take one of many walking tours around the city. My favourite was the food walking tour I did with Fab Food Trails.
- Walk the streets and catch a street performers show or a busker doing something crazy and entertaining
- Watch the Irish University boat races on the river Liffey
- Burn off some Guinness in a 5k run
- Take in some musical and artist performances
- and a whole lot more!
Make yourself a leprechaun, as seen at a busker stall on Grafton Street in Dublin
4. If you are planning on going to the Guinness Storehouse while in Dublin, try to do this before or after the 17th. St. Patrick’s Day is literally their busiest day of the year. Trust me going on any other day of the year it will be a lot less busy and your experience will be better because of it.
5. Typically when I have celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at home there are long lines outside of the Irish pubs around the city starting as early as 7am. People go crazy for St. Patrick’s Day, they start drinking ridiculously early in the morning and the majority of the people drink way to much. THIS IS NOT THE CASE IN DUBLIN. Or from at least what I saw it didn’t appear to be. Also every pub in Dublin is and Irish Pub so I suppose there are a few more options as well.
Unlike at home I didn’t notice any crazy drunk people until later that night and I had to go searching for them and I found MANY in the Temple Bar area. So my advice to you is don’t go crazy and waste your day drinking on St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. Get out walk around the city, wear your green clothes and enjoy the atmosphere.
The beginning of the parade on O’Connell Street
Can you find Waldo?
6. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin typically starts around 10am. My suggestion to you is to wake up early and hit the streets by 9am at the latest to get a good spot to watch the parade from. There was easily over 500,000 people out watching the paradise, the streets were PACKED with people. Get out early to get a good spot.
7. Be prepared. On St. Patrick’s Day it is best to explore the city by foot as it will be hard to get taxis and there will be tons of roads blocked off because of the hoards of people and the parade so it is best to wear comfy shoes and clothes. It is also a good idea to make sure you are wearing closed toe shoes because late at night if you find yourself in the Temple Bar area it will be full of trash and bottles on the ground from the masses of people. Closed toe shoes help prevent any crazy injuries. Also make sure the night before that you run to an ATM and grab some extra cash for food and drinks. Everyone will be searching for an ATM the day of so its better to be prepared and cash is faster when there are big lines and things are busy.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Sláinte!
Hopefully with these tips you will be well prepared for this once and a life experience of celebrating St. Patrick’s day in Dublin, Ireland. To find out more things to see and do in Dublin check out my newest video “Dublin In a Minute“.
Special thanks to the Ireland Tourism board for making a dream of mine come true. As always all opinions and views expressed are my own.