How to celebrate St. Patrick’s day in Dublin

The world becomes Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a bucket list dream come true.  St Patrick’s Day Dublin is like nowhere else in the world. The city expects over 500,000 tourists to be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin.

There will be the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade and a myriad of special events celebrating St. Patrick across Ireland and yes even in the North there are St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

celebrating St. Patricks day in Mexico

The Irish celebrating St. Patrick’s Day can be found everywhere from Merida Mexico to being in Chicago watching the river turn green.

celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin
©Mike Boehmer Creative Commons

Hit up New York for their amazing parade or sipping some green beer in Australia.

celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Dublin the parades in New York
© Cpl. Noah S. Leffler

But, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is the dream of many an Irish ex-pat.

Celebrating St. Patrick's Dublin
©Myles Cullen Creative Commons

St. Patrick’s Day Parade Dublin

March 13th – 17th 2020

Who Was St. Patrick?

So why is it such a big deal to be celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin? Well, St Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland who ministered to the pagans and helped bring Christianity to Ireland in the 5th Century.

Celebrations and events take place all around Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. For some, it is a Christian pilgrimage for others it just some great craic and a good party.  From Belfast to the tip of the country in Kerry you will find parades, festivals, and events of all kinds.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day

One of the pilgrimages that take place is to St Patrick’s Purgatory, which is on Station Island in Lough Derg Donegal. This is where it is said that St. Patrick had a vision promising that everyone who visited the sanctuary “in penitence and faith” would receive a pardon for their sins. Who could resist that?

Lough Derg Sanctuary

St. Patrick is of course not Irish and was born in England. He was captured by Romans and brought to Ireland as a slave in the 5th century. When he escaped from slavery he returned to England where he became a priest like his father and grandfather. He later returned to Ireland to bring the wild pagans Christianity.

Legend has it that St. Patrick removed the snakes from Ireland, but there have been no snakes in Ireland since before the ice age. This probably relates to him driving out the Druids and pagan customs of worshipping the serpent or “snake” gods. St. Patrick’s day, of course, falls on what is considered the anniversary of his death.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day

He is said to be buried under Down Cathedral in Downpatrick, Ireland.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day
Sydney Opera House ©Mike Young Creative Commons

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Festival around the world

French                         Fête de la Saint-Patrick

German                       St. Patrick’s Day

Irish                              Lá Fhéile Pádraig

Norwegian                   St. Patricks dag

Spanish                       Día de San Patricio

In 1903, celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Dublin and the rest of Ireland became an official public holiday in Ireland and the Irish have celebrated it with a vengeance ever since. This is a day of great craic, parades, drinking, feasting, storytelling and music all over the country.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day
Acrobats ©Miguel Mendez Creative Commons

Even in N. Ireland, the celebrations in both Belfast and Derry are outstanding but the truly epic celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is in Dublin.

Tips for celebrating

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

1  Don’t forget that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Dublin and St. Patrick’s Day events in Dublin bring in over 500,000 people. Book your hotel room way in advance.

In some cases, folks have been turned away even with a reservation because rooms are as scarce as hen’s teeth in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day.

2  Don’t drive, usually a good piece of advice for Dublin anyways but you won’t be able to move a vehicle during the parade and parking costs may kill you.

3  Don’t forget the Irish like a drink or two, doesn’t matter if it is tea, coffee or Guinness the Irish will be drinking in full force today and there will be many scenes of drunken merriment and mayhem. Over St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin over 15 million pints of Guinness will be drunk.

15 of the most famous pubs in Dublin to have a St. Paddy’s Day drink.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day
©Jonathon Thunder

5.  Two drinks not to order a green beer and an Irish Car Bomb. That last one is just insensitive to the max.

6.    Don’t call it St. Patty’s Day. Patty is the female version of Patricia. It is St. Paddy’s Day.

7  Do get out and find some authentic Irish food, but don’t forget you won’t find corned beef and cabbage here. This is a U.S dish, not an Irish one. However, make sure you head out for some traditional Irish food like boxty, soda bread, Irish stew and other favourites.

8  Don’t forget your comfortable walking shoes, the parade is huge, long and there will be loads of people stepping on your toes.

9  Don’t forget the “wearing of the green” or you may get pinched. On St Patrick’s Day Dublin, it is customary to “dress the part” and wear some green. From shamrocks to hats, full leprechaun costumes to simply being dressed head to toe in green. The “wearing of the green” is an Irish custom that goes way back. St Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, in his stories to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day

If you don’t wear green you may literally get “pinched” as it is said that you must wear green because green makes you invisible to leprechauns. If a leprechaun sees you, if you don’t wear green, they will pinch you.

10  Do be prepared the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin will last for 5 days and you will be going from dawn to well after dusk. If you need a great spot to watch the Parade buy some Grandstand tickets in advance. You can then watch the parade from a covered seated area near Parnell Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral or Christchurch Cathedral. Now those tickets may set you back up to €70 euros but given the crowds, it could be a worthwhile purchase.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day

11  Don’t forget to get out and see the Greening of Dublin. The City lights up its iconic buildings with beautiful green light displays at night.

12  Don’t miss taking in a trad music session. These will be taking place in virtually every pub, club and even on Grafton street where the buskers will be out in force. You will see Irish dancing, music and singing to delight your ears.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day
Members of the Sheila Tully School of Irish Dance perform (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

13  Do attend a Church service to honour the patron Saint of Ireland. Masses and events will be held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christchurch Cathedral to celebrate the day.

14  Don’t miss the Leprechaun Museum, not so much a museum as an immersive storytelling experience.  Talented guides will tell you all kinds of tales about Irish folklore and legends.  Learn about leprechauns, the Tuatha de Daanan, and of course the Irish fairies. This will delight both you and the kids.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day

14  Don’t miss traditional storytelling events around Dublin. This year they will be held at Glasnevin Museum and Cemetary. The Abhair series includes traditional singing and storytelling and gives you an incredibly immersive experience and views into Irish culture and traditions. Tickets cost around €15 Euros. You would be advised to book in advance.

15  Do remember that it is a national holiday so banks, Post Offices and government offices will all be closed so their staff can get out and celebrate.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day
©Michael Rivera

Above all else do remember that this is a country-wide celebration and time to make merry and enjoy the craic.

St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin - Ultimate guide to St. Patrick's Day

If you are of a mind learn some rebel songs and old Irish tunes and join in with the music and singing. There will be singing, lots of it along with dancing on chairs and tables. The RA songs will come out and locally (like here in Donegal) there will be a lot of the old songs at full volume.

What to pack for Ireland

Personal experience tells me that I need a carryon bag with those twisty wheels that go in all directions and has both carrying handles and a pull-out drag bar thingy. I want sturdy fabric, preferably in a day-glow colour so I can see the damn thing if I do have to check it. I also want soft sides that give a little – just in case. My recommended one?  Well, I pick the azure blue Travelpro Maxlite 5 19″ Expandable International Carry-On Spinner. I know it’s a mouthful but it is a great case and so far so good it’s lasted me 5 years of repeated airport bashing.

Now this one may seem a little odd but I see a lot of N. Americans complaining that most hotels and B&B’s in Europe and the UK don’t have washcloths. Well, that’s true I mean after all who wants to use a used washcloth. Take your own these are great quick-drying washcloths that are reusable and environmentally friendly.

Now if you are really concerned about the whole liquid issue why not take solid shampoo bars and body wash bars. These products are paraben and SLS free, TSA approved (so to speak) perfume-free and chemical-free. That makes them very environmentally friendly and they are so easy to use.

I love a multipurpose jacket Craghoppers 3 in 1 jacket. It’s windproof, waterproof and breathable and has a drawcord at the waist which helps me look like I have one. It’s not bulky and looks good even when not hiking.

Now you are going to need a 110v to 220v voltage converter so you can plug in hairdryers, phones, laptops or tablets and so on. My personal favourite and one that has lasted me 4 years is the Bestek Universal Travel Adapter

Trust me on this one you will have more photos than you can store on either your phone or your camera and you don’t want to be deleting any to take more before you get home.

This Ultra Scandisk chip will work under adverse weather conditions (we get a lot of those here) and keep your photos or drone footage totally safe. A flash drive for your Smart Phone or Android will also come in very handy.   

I’m not going to recommend cameras or other types of photographic equipment such as a drone because – well because I am a crap photographer who uses a good cell phone for most of my photos. Now I want a drone but I have to admit I haven’t bought one yet. So I was reading all kinds of reviews and know which one I want this a Holystone 1080P Drone….sigh if only. This has a huge flying time of 26 minutes.

This little beauty is a Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger, which is an absolute, must-have when travelling. I keep mine charged and then bring it with me just in case. There is nothing worse than running out of juice when you are snapping some of the best views ever. You will never be out of power with this charger. 

Here in Ireland a Windproof Umbrella will save your hair and clothes and is a requirement. I really like this small portable travel umbrella. It’s windproof, waterproof, and folds down super small and will fit into any purse or suitcase.

I never would have dreamed of bringing a flashlight with me to Ireland, but when it’s dark here man it’s freaking dark. So one night we wanted to go and see the Northern Lights up in Donegal but we didn’t have a torch. Shopping for one here in Ireland became a journey to 5 stores and each one more expensive than the last. This torch is perfect it has 5 modes, is rechargeable, super lightweight and waterproof you couldn’t ask for more. 

A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring with you on your trip to Ireland. This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colours. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind. You can keep your most valuable documents safe and secure next to your body.

If you have a pouch already you may not want to or need to invest in a new one, like me. If it does not come with the RFID protection, these RFID sleeves would be handy to prevent identity theft. This configuration comes with enough passport and credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your wallet. 

If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I use. It can be used on a variety of phones. 

I hate selfies but if you have to have one or if like me you have shaky hands the FugeTek Selfie Stick and Tripod has Bloothtooth connectivity so it is very easy to use. It is made of long-lasting aluminium and is very lightweight and easy to carry. 

Don’t forget to bring along a universal power adapter on your trip to Ireland. This worldwide power plug is a great example and will charge your phone at the end of your busy days. And this world traveller adapter kit can charge several devices at the same time. 

If you want to travel light and in Europe with paying extra for luggage you need packing cubes. These Bagail packing cubes are the exact ones I use whenever I travel. 

This foldable water-resistant backpack is brilliant for making sure your things are protected and secure. I don’t bother to carry a purse this is what I find works for me mainly because its “hands-free” and I can easily carry everything in it. 

I love this antitheft backpack it looks good and doesn’t look scruffy it has a grey finish and it fits my 15″ laptop perfectly.

There’s a lot of walking to be done in Europe and I highly recommend Fitflops for the sheer comfort and durability. I’ve had my loafers for 5 years and they have held up beautifully. I admit to having terrible feet what with neuralgia, metatarsalgia and other conditions walking can become unbearable, my Fitflops are my saving grace and I don’t wear any other kind.

If you are visiting Europe in the summer months you may want something a bit more delicate and again I choose Fitflops. I have these great slides that have lasted me for years, talk about comfy it’s like walking on pillows. They have this great decoration with some silver studs on the black that are dressy enough to wear with fancy clothes but they also work with just jeans.

For my feet, I love the comfort and durability of Fitflops and when I’m travelling light and don’t want to pack another pair of shoes I choose to wear a ballerina style. I can wear them with dresses, jeans and dressier trousers. I always choose black as it goes with everything and I hate those white-soled shoes as I think they make my feet look huge.

I adore a scarf – when travelling light scarves can make or break your wardrobe. I always take around 5 with me to change up my outfits. I’m not exactly an “outfit” kind of person but when I want to cheer up my basic black, white and grey wardrobe a scarf fits the bill perfectly.

This lightweight cotton scarf comes in a huge variety of checks, plaids and stripes perfect for adding that little personal style to your travel wardrobe.

I do love a fancy embroidered scarf as well, it can be used as a shawl and I have this type of scarf in a few colours and I can use it as a shawl, scarf or headwrap with its beautiful embroidered flowers I feel a little more dressed up.

 If you have an aversion to mixed fibre scarves and wraps why not go for an environmentally friendly hemp version? This type of scarf will last virtually forever and the colours it comes it will brighten every wardrobe.

Now I’ve had my eyes “done” – no it’s not what you think I had cataracts quite bad ones in each eye. So it took 2 years on a waiting list to get them removed. Now I can actually see without glasses and I’ve worn them since I was 8 years old.

What I have noticed is that I react quite strongly to sunlight and my eye doctor recommended that I wear sunglasses whenever I’m out and in particular to make sure they are polarized. What a difference I got my Oakley’s and haven’t looked back and I can see stuff I never thought possible, when the glare of the sun reflects on the ocean or any kind of water I can actually see it’s like a miracle.

Here’s some more reading for you

Dublin Don’ts What not to do in Dublin

Dublin off the beaten Path

Cool Places to stay in Ireland

Castles to stay in Ireland

2 Days in Dublin an awesome itinerary

2 Days in Galway

An around Ireland 14 day trip itinerary

So what are your plans for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin?

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