Ireland’s national holiday is always a celebration — and there’s no place better to take part in the St Patrick’s Day party than in Dublin.
This raucous day will be marked in 2023 with a huge festival, a street parade, parties until late, Guinness, lots of Guinness – and enough emerald-colored merchandise to fill the city’s biggest cathedral five times over.
Want in? Here’s everything you need to know about celebrating Paddy’s Day in Dublin — including where to get a decent pint of the black stuff.
Get the inside scoop on the latest cultural happenings all over the world delivered weekly to your inbox with our email newsletter. Dublin really gets into the swing of things for St Patrick’s Day © Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images
What is St Patrick’s Day like in Ireland?
Commemorating the anniversary of the death of Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick’s Day is celebrated as a national holiday and is a showcase of Irish pride. Each year the country comes to life in vibrant color with trad music sessions, cèilidh (Irish dance parties), costumes, comedy and plenty of great craic in the pub. Subtle it is not.
Although the entire country will join in the celebrations, Dublin is at the center of the action. The capital doesn’t dye the River Liffey green – that’s the Chicago River in the US – but you can expect to see plenty of emerald-colored shamrocks. When Saint Patrick first introduced Christianity to Ireland, he was said to have used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Holy Trinity. That’s why you’ll see it everywhere.
One of the best ways to experience Dublin during Paddy’s Day is to hit the streets and soak up the atmosphere. It’s often the small things that showcase the Irish spirit the most like the keen camaraderie and bars teeming with people ready to let loose and have fun.
St Patrick’s Day Parade 2023
First hosted in 1931, half a million people are expected to line the streets of Dublin for the annual St Patrick’s Day parade in 2023. It takes place on Friday, March 17.
Featuring marching bands from across Ireland as well as North America, there will be more than 4000 people taking part in the parade. This includes creative pageants and larger, showpiece performances. The theme for 2023 will be ‘Mar a chéile sinn‘, which is Irish for ‘We are one’.
Join the Temple Bar throng or pre-book one of the many gigs and events on during the festival © Aitormmfoto / Shutterstock
What route will the parade take in 2023?
The parade will leave Parnell Square at noon and then follow a 2.5 km-long route along O’Connell Street, crossing the Liffey into Westmoreland Street, before passing Trinity College. It will then go along Dame Street turning left at Christchurch Cathedral before ending at St Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s all over by 2 pm.
Do I need to buy tickets for the parade?
No, you can just turn up and find a spot along the route. However, there are five covered grandstands located along the Parade route which require tickets. These are located at O’Connell Street, Parnell Square, Westmoreland Street, Christchurch, and St Patrick’s Cathedral. Note that tickets sell out quickly. Book early to guarantee a seat. Prices start from €100 and can be bought online.
What about the St Patrick’s Day Festival?
The parade is just the jewel in the crown of a wider St Patrick’s Day Festival. Celebrating Irish art, culture and heritage, the festival will have its own ‘Festival Quarter’ at the National Museum of Ireland from Thursday, March 16 until Sunday, March 19. Daytime events are free of charge. At night, events are ticketed and adult-only after 6 pm.
Visitors can immerse themselves in Irish culture with a main outdoor stage, a Story Yurt, a funfair, and an Irish food and craft village. Among those penciled in to perform are Kíla, Panti Bliss, Elaine Mai, May Kay, Mother DJs and the Pillow Queens. Buy tickets online. The rest of Dublin will have a number of live events and club nights, too.
Help Me, LP! I’ll be in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day. Which events should I book in advance?
You’ll be wanting a decent Guinness for St Patrick’s Day © VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock
Best places to get a pint in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day
Want to find some of the most expensive pints in the city? Temple Bar is amongst the most traditional and historic quarters of the city, but local Dubliners make a beeline elsewhere to avoid overpriced and often overcrowded pubs. Of course, a stroll through Temple Bar is an essential experience on any trip to Dublin and it’s no exception on St Patrick’s Day. Expect it to be heaving with merry-makers, and if that’s not your vibe, pass on through and make your way to the scores of pubs that will be marginally less crowded.
Grogan’s Castle Lounge is a beloved local pub ©noel bennett/Shutterstock
For a more relaxed scene, try the nearby Stag’s Head for trad sessions or spill out on the street around Kehoe’s. The Long Hall, now more than 250 years old, is a great place for a drink. Grabbing a street-side ham-and-cheese toastie at Grogan’s is something of a rite of passage in Dublin — if you can find a seat. However, you should expect that most central bars will be jammed with people over the Paddy’s Day weekend, so embrace it, join the queue and chat up locals and fellow travelers as you wait for a pint.
Or, head north of the Liffey and stroll down the recently pedestrianized Capel Street, where you’ll find plenty of places worth stopping, like Pantibar, one of the city’s most famous gay bars. The nearby Northside neighborhoods of Smithfield or Stoneybatter are also brimming with pubs that serve excellent Guinness (try Walsh’s, the Cobblestone, the Glimmer Man or Hynes’ Bar) and host (slightly) thinner crowds.
Or go south of the Liffey and wander down a Dublin street that goes by many names (South Great George’s Street becomes Aungier Street becomes Wexford Street becomes Camden Street) to see where the party is — you may find it in the George, Swan Bar, Anseo, Camden Exchange and many, many more. The bar- and restaurant-lined Fade Street will also be thronged with people ready to celebrate the occasion.
To get right to the root of the revelry, buy a ticket to the Guinness Storehouse which will host its own mini-festival for St Patrick’s Day from March 16-19. Expect a full program of Irish music, history, food, and dance.