If you want to celebrate St Patrick's Day in style, there's no better place to do it than in Dublin, home of St Patrick's Cathedral and Guinness. St. Patrick’s Day is officially on March 17th, but this year, celebrations in Dublin will stretch from Friday 14th to Monday 17th of March. For the first time ever, the St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin will be set up around a three year narrative entitled ‘Past, Present and Future’. 2014 marks the beginning of this story, celebrating the past with the theme ‘Let’s Make History’.
Here are some highlights to look out for this year…
St. Patrick’s Festival Parade
Every year an Irish celebrity is chosen to be the Grand Marshall and the whole thing is kept a secret until March, so keep your eyes peeled for info…
There's a definite carnival feel to this parade every year and people of all ages grab their spots early in the day to catch the best view. If you don't know where you want to stand, head for high ground – Lord Edward Street and the western end of Dame Street are good places to start.
Location: Parnell St to Patrick St, via O'Connell St and Dame St Date: Monday, March 17th @ noon
Ever wanted to learn all that fancy footwork you saw in 'Riverdance'? Or just feel like having a dance and a good laugh? For three hours, professional callers and dancers will be teaching the steps to anyone who wants to learn, all to live music beside the prettiest park in the city centre.
Location: St Stephen's Green Date: Friday, March 14th @ 4.30pm
Céilí House Live
Prefer to tap your foot rather than all-out dance? Head over to the National Concert Hall on Earsfort Terrace for a chance to see some of Ireland’s most famous trad and folk music groups. The big names of the evening will include De Dannan, the Céilí House All-Stars and The Bonny Men. There will also be some surprise guests on the night…
Location: National Concert Hall, Earsfort Terrace Date: Saturday, March 15th @ 8.00pm
Greening the City
Every night of the festival, the city's most iconic buildings will be illuminated in green light, creating what we can attest is a part-celebratory, part-haunted atmosphere. Take our word for it – it's a very memorable way to see some of the city's most beautiful sights. Make sure to check out the Jeanie Johnson Ship on the quays and the Irish Architecture Archive on Merrion Square, as well as the entrance to Trinity College and the Bank of Ireland, both on College Green.
Location: Various Date: March 14th to 17th @ 4pm
The Irish craft beer and food market
It's no secret that the city's bars will be absolutely packed with people drinking 'the black stuff' (Guinness!) and listening to live music. If you fancy some locally-brewed craft beers and it's too busy at the Porterhouse and Against the Grain (two Dublin pubs renowned for their special beers), head over to the CHQ building to enjoy locally brewed bears and Irish artisan food. One of our favourite of the local brews is a rich and chocolatey O'Hara's Stout.
Along with the beer there's plenty to do for everyone, with face-painting, cooking master classes and fun workshops for children.
Location: Inside CHQ building, IFSC Dates: March 13th to 17th, 10am -8pm
St Patrick's walking tours
For a nice view of the city that doesn't involve waiting for tour buses, Dublin historian Pat Liddy will be leading daily walking tours of the city centre during the festival, covering the life and times of St Patrick. The tour lasts around two hours and costs €14 per person, including entrance into the breath taking St Patrick's Cathedral.
Location: Tours and Tickets Office, 37 College Green Dates: March 13th to 17th, 11am and 2.30pm
City at Play: Funfairs
Looking for something to do after the parade? There will be two funfairs running, one at Merrion Square and one at Custom House. You’ll find carousels, a ferris wheel, street performers, cotton candy and everything else essential to a carnival. Expect to pay €3 to €5 for a go on one of the rides. You can also catch the fun on Custom House Quay near the Irish Craft Beer Village – consider going on the rides before having that last pint, though...
Location: Merrion Square, Wolfe Tone Park and Custom House Quay Dates: March 14th to 17th, opening times varied
St Patrick's Festival 5k Road Race
Now in its 7th year, the 5k Road Race is one of the most popular events on the St. Patrick’s calendar, whether this is down to a spattering of running clowns, fire eaters and a motorbike parade, we’re just not sure. The race is open to families and fun-runner as well as serious athletes, and you get a free T Shirt and goody bag for taking part.
Location: Start Line at St. Stephen’s Green/Dawson St. Junction Dates: Sunday 16th March @ noon.
Around St Patrick's Day, the liveliest part of the city will no doubt be Temple Bar, Dublin's 'cultural quarter'. Whether it's a big sports match or a festival, any time there's a big event in the city centre, everything and everyone passes through this part of the city at some point in the day. The quarter really comes to life during the St Patrick's Day festival, with clothing, food and book markets, live trad music in almost every pub (and a pub on almost every corner) and free access to many of the exhibitions at nearby museums. The area is also known for its lack of major chain stores, so stop in to one of the shops like Konfusion to pick up souvenirs priced cheaper than elsewhere – and support local business.
So where will you be celebrating St Patrick's Day this year?
Photo courtesy of Miguel Mendez. All images used under the Creative Commons license.