St Patrick’s Day in Dublin is a bit of a mixed bag. And I’m saying that as someone that’s spent the last 33 of them here…
When I was a kid, St Patrick’s Day in Dublin was a big deal, with parties, parades and themed events taking centre stage.
However, as the years go on, St Patrick’s Day became just another public holiday.
With that being said, there’s plenty of things to do in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, as you’ll discover below!
The best things to do on St Patrick’s Day in Dublin 2023
I’m going to include the main festive things to do on St Patrick’s Day in Dublin along with some non-festive activities.
Below, you’ll find everything from the St Patrick’s Day Parade and trad music sessions to walks, hikes and unique St Patrick’s Day activities.
1. Get to the parade in the city centre early
Many tourists spend St Patrick’s Day in Dublin solely to experience the St Patrick’s Day Parade, however, it’s popular amongst many locals, too.
If you’re heading over to Dublin and the famous parade is at the top of your list of things to see, then you’re going to have to arrive bright and early.
The last thing you’ll want as the performers and floats pass by is to be stuck behind rows and rows of other visitors raising their arms and taking photos all day!
Starting at midday, the parade snakes its way through the streets of Ireland’s capital from Parnell Street on the north to Kevin Street on the south. The streets start to fill up from around 9am, so try to arrive around then.
2. Escape the hustle and bustle in the Dublin mountains
If you’re looking for things to do in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day that keeps you well aways from the crowds, head to the Dublin Mountains.
From wind-whipped trails to forested strolls, there are some lovely walks and gorgeous views to be enjoyed and the drive out to the mountains from Dublin should only take around 30 minutes.
Some of our favourites include the 5.5km Ticknock Fairy Castle Loop, the steep 5.5km Hellfire Club walk and the 2.5km Tibradden Wood Walk.
3. Head to a trad music session
Plenty of pubs run trad sessions on St Patrick’s Day in Dublin (see our guide to live music pubs in Dublin).
The soundtrack to Ireland and Irish culture is trad music and there are an almost endless amount of options in Dublin if you want to hear a few tunes.
While you’ll probably be exposed to some of this music at the parade, nothing beats settling into a great pub and hearing some trad played live up close!
Need some inspiration? The Cobblestone in Smithfield is a cracking spot who LOVE their live music, while O’Donohues on Merrion Row is so known for its sessions that performers in the past have included The Dubliners and Christy Moore.
Johnnie Fox’s out in the Dublin mountains is great too, though you’ll need a car or shuttle bus to reach it.
4. Dodge Temple Bar and kick-back in an old-school pub
Many of those visiting Dublin for St Patrick’s Day head for Temple Bar. The result is absolute chaos.
Why not dodge the messiness of Temple Bar and enjoy the atmosphere and ornate surroundings in some of the more historic pubs in Dublin?!
If you want to start with the oldest pubs in Dublin, then you must check out the Brazen Head (dating back to 1198, no less!).
Also up for consideration is Slattery’s and its gorgeous tiled mosaic floor, while the Long Hall’s Victorian mahogany bar and red ceiling catch the eye immediately.
5. Or get lost in the merriment of Temple Bar’s mayhem
Well, if it’s your first time in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day or if you’re drawn to the mayhem epicentres, then Temple Bar might be the experience for you!
Personally, we’d give Temple Bar a wide berth on a day like St Patrick’s Day as it’s always carnage, but there’s no denying that it’s popular with tourists.
But if you’re going to visit, then the famous Temple Bar pub itself is probably the place to go just to say you went there (if you can stomach the prices, that is!).
While it’s sat on the fringes of Temple Bar, the beautiful Palace Bar is probably where you’d find us.
6. Sample some Irish food
Since this is a day of Irish celebration, why not sample some traditional Irish food when the big day comes around?
There are plenty of spots around Dublin to find a plate of coddle or boxty, you just need to know where they are!
Not only is the Gravediggers one of Dublin’s greatest pubs, they also do a great coddle while Gallagher’s Boxty House is the best spot for a boxty.
You’ll find a delicious Irish stew at the Brazen Head and no trip here would be complete without a taste of the sea, so grab some cockles and mussels at the Woollen Mills near the beautiful Ha’penny Bridge
7. Tackle a Dublin whiskey-tasting tour
Did you know that Dublin was once the Irish whiskey capital of the world?
While a pint of the black stuff is now what most visitors drink in Dublin, whiskey heritage here runs deep and whiskey-tasting tours are a great way of understanding the history and fine flavours of classic pot still Irish whiskey.
Dublin Whiskey Tours run whiskey-tasting experiences for just €39 and you’ll get to sample some of the best Irish whiskies around, as well as learn the difference between Irish whiskey and scotch and many other interesting tidbits and tales.
8. Or visit one of Dublin’s distilleries or breweries
Or, you could get an up-close experience at one of Dublin’s famous distilleries or breweries!
The Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s most popular attraction and it could be very busy on St Patrick’s Day but it’s a great experience and the panoramic views from the Gravity Bar are magnificent.
While they no longer make Jameson whiskey on Bow St (the operation is now in Co. Cork), the distillery building still runs excellent tours and tastings and is well worth a visit.
Other smaller and newer distilleries in Dublin are cracking too, including the likes of Teeling and Pearse Lyons (their church location is unique to say the least!).
9. Escape to the coast for the day
If you’re looking for active things to do in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, head for the coast – the only decision to make is north or south?
To the north, the Howth peninsula offers a cracking cliff walk, a fascinating old castle and a harbour packing in some fine restaurants with nice views up towards Lambay Island.
To the south, Dalkey boasts a walk past the swanky mansions on Vico Road, spectacular views from Killiney Hill and some excellent restaurants in Dalkey Village.
10. Discover some of Dublin’s rich history
There’s no escaping the fact that in Dublin (and around the world, frankly), St Patrick’s Day is largely associated with enjoying many a pint.
But if you want to escape the pub scene for a while then Dublin’s a city with a rich history and plenty of attractions to explore (just check ahead first to make sure they’re open).
Trinity College is sat in heart of the city and the stunning Library and Book of Kells are high up on any Dublin bucket list.
Kilmainham Gaol offers a more morbid look into the city’s more traumatic history, while Marsh’s Library is a hidden gem and the first public library in Ireland.
11. Have a ramble around the city for a look at the ‘greened’ landmarks
In the lead-up to St Patrick’s Day in Dublin, there are a number of famous landmarks and heritage sites that ‘go green’, so to speak!
If you’re interested in seeing these places in a different light (pun intended!), then head out when night falls to see them all lit up in green.
Some of the famous sites that will be ‘greened’ include Dublin Castle, the Custom House, the National Gallery and the entrance to St Stephen’s Green.
12. Attend a St Patrick’s Day mass service
If you’d like to pay homage to St Patrick in the original way it was intended (before the green and the Guinness got involved, anyway!), then why not attend a mass service on St Patrick’s Day in Dublin?
1000 years ago, simple religious services were all that took place on March 17th and you can do that at a number of cathedrals and churches around the capital.
Though perhaps the most appropriate place to attend mass would be his namesake – St Patrick’s Cathedral!
Have any Dublin for St Patrick’s Day recommendations?
Every year we get hundreds of events sent to us that are set to take place in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day.
However, most of these get sent in far too late. Know of something you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!
FAQs about spending St Patrick’s Day in Dublin 2023
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What to do in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day?’ to ‘Where does live trad sessions?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below. Here are some related reads you should find interesting:
- 73 Funny St. Patrick’s Day Jokes For Adults And Kids
- The Best Irish Songs And The Best Irish Films Of All Time For Paddy’s Day
- 8 Ways That We Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day In Ireland
- The Most Notable St. Patrick’s Day Traditions In Ireland
- 17 Tasty St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails To Whip Up At Home
- How To Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day In Irish
- 5 St. Patrick’s Day Prayers And Blessings For 2023
- 17 Surprising Fact’s About St. Patrick’ Day
- 33 Interesting Facts About Ireland
Is St Patrick’s Day a big deal in Dublin?
Yes and no. For some, visiting the parade is one of the biggest events of the year. For many, however, March 17th is just another Bank Holiday and they won’t celebrate it in any way.
What is there to do in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day?
One of the most popular things to do in Dublin on St Patrick’s Day is to head to the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin City Centre. You can also attend trad music sessions or escape the city and head to the mountains or coast.