9 ways to enjoy the St Patrick’s weekend in Dublin

Media captionCelebrate St Patrick's Day in Dublin.
Street performers in the 2023 St Patrick's Festival parade in Dublin city
Media captionCelebrate St Patrick's Day in Dublin.

St Patrick's Day is perfectly timed this year – with March 17 falling on a Sunday, the Bank Holiday Monday creates a three-day weekend full of festivities.

There are plenty of ways to celebrate in Dublin, from the parade that weaves through the city to huge gigs held in historic settings. Alongside the big-ticket events at St Patrick’s Festival, both in the Festival Quarter and at venues around town as part of the One City programme, there are intimate shows, photography exhibitions and plays to be enjoyed.

Whether you want to dance the night away at a gig or enjoy a themed tour in an art gallery, here are some of the best ways to enjoy St Patrick’s weekend in Dublin.

Head to the parade

St Patrick’s Festival is set to be the most ambitious ever, with a schedule of events, gigs and parties taking place through day and night March 15 to 18. The main event is the parade, when half a million people will line the streets to watch the colourful floats wind their way from the start at Parnell Square to the finishing point at the junction of Kevin Street and Cuffe Street.  

This year’s theme is Spréach (Spark), which represents the unique essence of Ireland and of Irish people that we share with the world through humour, joy and wonder. As well as the usual line up of community groups, marching bands and floats, there will be a brand-new pageant featuring a collaboration between the St Patrick’s Festival Community Arts programme and the North-East Inner-City Partnership (NEIC), which will honour and celebrate the Festival’s connection to Dublin’s inner city.

While the parade is free to all, there are a number of grandstands that give you a seated view. All have sold out except for those included in the the Hospitality Packages for the St Patrick's Cathedral (€240) and Parnell Square Grandstands (€230) – the latter includes a "Taste of Modern Ireland" VIP lunch.

This year's festival will also have added focus on creating an inclusive and accessible environment. With that mind, there are special wheelchair accessible viewing areas and relaxed parade spaces for neurodivergent visitors. Guide dogs are also welcome at the parade and Festival Quarter.

Media captionFeel the spark at this year's St Patrick's Festival.

Explore the Festival Quarter

The National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks will be transformed once again into the Festival Quarter, with family activities, gigs and parties at night. During the day, you’ll find the Síolta Circus and a mini funfair for the kids, as well as family workshops, with the Irish Food and Craft Village on hand for when hunger hits. Come evening, some of Ireland’s best musicians will be taking to the stage, including The Deadlians, Niamh Bury and Louise Mulcahy. The giant interactive Céilí Mór is back, with former Riverdancer Dearbhla Lennon leading the jig. This year will also see another LGBTQ+ Géilí held in conjunction with Mother, as part of their Cultúr Club night on March 16.  

If Irish dancing isn't your thing, you'll find different dance parties and workshops across genres in this year's programme celebrating Ireland's diversity. On Saturday March 16, get moving at the Bollywood Ireland Dance Party and the Afro Dance Workshop with Lapree Lala, both free events at Collins Barracks.

Media captionCatch a performance or join in an event in the Festival Quarter.

Find more events with One City

The St Patrick's Festival celebrations are also moving beyond the Festival Quarter, with talks, performances and events held all over Dublin as part of the One City Festival Programme. Head to TU Dublin Grangegorman Concert Hall for evenings of songs and stories in the Abair programme, including Garvey's Ghost, Bothy/Bothán and Holyhead. Or snag tickets to WAKE by THISISPOPBABY, an arena party with cabaret, acrobatics and heart-pounding fun at The National Stadium through March 23.

From March 13 to 17 at The Complex Gallery & Studios, you can see CoisCéim Dance Theatre present Palimpsest, a visceral dance experience inspired by key moments in Irish history as we come to the end of the Decade of Centenaries.

For some coastal air, head out on St Patrick's Day morning to the Aware Harbour2Harbour Walk. The 26km stretch in support of the Aware organisation winds between Howth and Dún Laoghaire harbours, on the Dublin Coastal Trail, and there will be complimentary refreshments served at the Halfway Hooley at Dublin Port Company’s Pumphouse. There will also be themed walking tours throughout the city all weekend.

Getting the littles ones involved? Bring them to Custom House Quay for the City Funfair and take a spin on the rides. 

Media captionHave fun around town with the St Patrick's Festival One City programme.

See a play

From March 6 to April 6, the Abbey Theatre is putting on Na Peirsigh (Persians), a new Irish-language translation of Europe's oldest known surviving play by writer and poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. But for those who aren't gaeilgeoirí (fluent Irish-speakers), you can watch along with English subtitles. You can also catch Hugo Weaving in The President by Thomas Bernhard at the Gate Theatre until March 24, with multiple performances over the long weekend. 

Before they disappear from Dublin stages on March 16, book your ticket to see John B Keane's Sive in the Gaiety Theatre or, if you're a fan of the opera, head to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre for a performance of Richard Strauss' Salome by the Irish National Opera. 

For a matinée over the holiday weekend, head to the lunchtime theatre at Bewley's Café on Grafton Street. Lady Gregory's The Rising of the Moon will be performed daily Monday-Saturday at 1pm until April 6, with a special evening performance on March 21. 

Media captionCatch a performance at the Gate.

Go to a gig

As well as the trad sessions happening in pubs all over the city, there are a number of gigs taking place all weekend outside of St Patrick’s Festival. Trad band Kilfenora Céilí Band will take the stage at the National Concert Hall on March 16, and The Whistlin' Donkeys will play Vicar Street on St Patrick's Day itself. If you're up for an arena show, they'll be quite a variety of musical tastes catered to at the 3Arena over the weekend – see heavy metal icons Judas Priest on March 15, Irish producer blk. on March 17, and Scottish rockers Simple Minds on March 18.

Media captionCatch a gig St Patrick's weekend.

Visit a museum

All the major museums are open on St Patrick’s Day, with many offering themed tours and events over the course of the long weekend. At the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, learn about the artefacts and shrines connected to Irish saints and how Christianity influenced the development of writing on the Saints and Scholars of Ireland Tour. The museum also has a Viking Ireland Family Tour running through March. As part of the St Patrick's Day Festival, the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks will host Not Just Shamrocks: Irish Symbolism in the Museum's Collections tours on Saturday and Sunday. 

The free People and Places: Ireland in 19th & 20th Centuries exhibition is on in the National Photographic Archive, with photographs showcasing life in Ireland over the past 150 years, alongside Yeats: The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats. At the National Print Museum, Miniature Masterpieces: 100 Years of Irish Stamps is a joint exhibition between An Post and the museum that celebrates the design and history of Irish postage stamps. 

St Patrick's weekend is also your last chance to catch The Pogues exhibition They Gave The Walls A Talking at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

Media captionTake a unique museum tour on St Patrick's weekend.

Soak up the symphony

This year, renowned composer Shaun Davey will be returning to the National Concert Hall for a one-off evening of music with the National Symphony Orchestra on March 17. The evening will see the world premiere of his new 'St. Patrick’s Overture', his wild 'Granuaile' and a performance of 'The Brendan Voyage', based on St. Brendan’s transatlantic crossing in the 6th century. 

Media captionHead to the National Concert Hall.

Head to an art gallery

Over at the National Gallery of Ireland, new temporary exhibition Turning Heads: Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer runs through May 26. A collaboration between the National Gallery of Ireland and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, the exhibition features intimate face drawings, paintings and engravings created by these artists.

Until April 30, you can pay a visit to Kind Words Can Never Die, a colourful work in the courtyard of the Irish Museum of Modern Art by artist Navine G. Dossos that explores our psychological response to climate change. IMMA's museum-wide exhibition Self-Determination: A Global Perspective runs until April 21. 

And at the Hugh Lane Gallery, you can catch a concert by trad musicians Ultan O’Brien and Neil O’Loclainn on St Patrick's Day itself.

Media captionPay a visit to the city's galleries.

Have a laugh

Quirky comedian Áine Gallagher is bringing her show For the Love of Milseáin to the Smock Alley Theatre on March 16, where you can also catch the final showing of Francis Breen’s 2023 Edinburgh Fringe run of White. There’ll be two comedy nights on March 16 in The International Bar and a bumper line up of comics playing in the Laughter Lounge on March 15 and 16, headlined by Cork comedian Ross Browne. Or catch Enya Martin's new show Ask Your Ma at Vicar Street on March 16.

Discover Dublin festivals

Want to keep the good vibes going? Find your next festival with our guide to Dublin festivals.