10 ways to enjoy the St Patrick’s weekend in Dublin
10 things to do on St Patrick’s Weekend in Dublin
St Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year, which means we get to enjoy a long weekend of festivities. There are plenty of ways to celebrate in Dublin, from the parade that weaves through the city to brand new markets held in historic settings. Alongside the big-ticket events at St Patrick’s Festival, there are intimate gigs, 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.
Check out St Patrick’s Festival
St Patrick’s Festival is set to be the most ambitious ever, with a schedule of events, gigs and parties taking place throughout the day and night, from March 16–19. 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 ‘Mar a chéile sinn’ (we are one) and as well as the usual line up of community groups, marching bands and floats, there will be a brand-new augmented reality pageant entitled ‘The Future That Moves Us’.
While the parade is free to all, there are a number of grandstands that give you a seated view. All bar one are sold out, but for the first time the public can buy tickets (€250) for the Emerald Circle Grandstand on O’Connell Street, opposite the GPO – which in years past was exclusively reserved for dignitaries and special guests.
Explore the Festival Quarter
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 a Disney Cinema Yurt, tumble circus and a mini funfair for the kids, with the Irish Food and Craft Village on hand for when hunger strikes. Come evening, some of Ireland’s best musicians will be taking to the stage, including Pillow Queens and Kíla. The giant interactive Céilí Mór is back, with former Riverdancer Dearbhla Lennon leading the jig. But this year will also see the first ever LGBTQ+ Géilí held in conjunction with Mother, as part of their Cultúr Club night on March 16.
The celebrations are also moving beyond the Festival Quarter, with club nights and events held all over Dublin as part of the One City Festival Programme. Moving Hearts and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra will be at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre on March 17 and 18, with renowned traditional musicians joining forces with the full orchestra for a night of music. There will also be themed walking tours and family art workshops held all around the city.
Go to a market
A new event for 2023 and held in association with St Patrick’s Festival, Me Auld Flower is a foodie takeover of the historic Dublin City Fruit, Vegetable and Flower Market in Smithfield. There’ll be some of the country’s top chefs manning stalls and cooking everything from bacon and cabbage dumplings to Filipino-Irish street food; talks and foodie demos by culinary stars including Aimsir’s Jordan Bailey and Paul Flynn of the Tannery; and even a coddle cook-off. A grilling masterclass will take place in the old yard while comedian Fiona Frawley will host an onion-eating challenge. But it won’t just be food – there’ll be Irish distilleries and craft breweries serving up drinks, as well as live music and food demonstrations.
We Love Markets will be returning for the season on March 18, with a green themed flea market at the Digital Hub on Thomas Street. There will be vintage items, secondhand clothes, antiques and sustainable goods for sale alongside food trucks and music from Relish Records, all at the base of the Liberties landmark St Patrick's Tower.
See a play
The Gate Theatre is putting on a revival of Enda Walsh's The New Electric Ballroom, with performances on March 16 and 18 (none on St Patrick’s Day itself); the matinee on March 18 is also an ISL interpreted performance. Hangmen, by the multi-award-winning Martin McDonagh is premiering in Ireland at the Gaiety on March 11, with an evening show on St Patrick’s Day and two on March 18. The Frank McGuinness adaptation of Molière’s classic comedy Tartuffe is on in the Abbey, while their matinee play The Table is finishing its run on the Peacock stage with two afternoon performances on March 18.
Catch 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. If you prefer your traditional music in a more formal setting, the Kilfenora Céilí Band are performing in the National Concert Hall on March 19.
The Northern Irish electronic duo Bicep are playing the 3Arena on March 17, and The Comet is Coming are on stage in the Button Factory on March 18. The Nova Twins are playing that same night in Whelan’s, and Death Cab for Cutie will be rounding off the weekend with a gig in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre on March 19.
Visit a gallery
All the major galleries are open on St Patrick’s Day, with many offering themed tours and events over the course of the long weekend. In the National Gallery of Ireland, there are three themed tours running on St Patrick’s Day, including one at 12:30pm just for families. Sunday March 19 is Mother’s Day in Ireland and the UK, so the Hugh Lane Gallery is offering a mother-and-child tour of the gallery’s best-known exhibits followed by coffee and a bun.
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 premiere of his new Cello Concerto, as well as a performance of The Brendan Voyage, based on St. Brendan’s transatlantic crossing in the 6th century.
See an exhibition
The free People and Places exhibition is on in the National Photographic Archive, with photographs showcasing life in Ireland over the past 150 years. At the National Print Museum, Grand Stuff: Label Art from Ireland is a new exhibition looking at iconic Irish labels from the 1890s to 1990s, from beers and whiskeys to hotels and linens.
The Irish Famine Exhibition starts on March 15 on the top floor of the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre and runs until September 30. Using storyboards, a documentary film and original artefacts, the exhibition tells the story of the millions of people affected by the Famine. Meanwhile, a major retrospective of Patricia Hurl’s early paintings, Irish Gothic, runs at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Have a boogie
If the party spirit takes over and you a want to cut some dancefloor shapes but still be in bed at a reasonable hour, then Annie Mac at Vicar Street is just the ticket. She’s bringing her legendary club night Before Midnight to Dublin on March 17, but the set kicks off at 7pm and will be wrapped up by midnight.
Have a laugh
Tommy Tiernan’s Tomfoolery is on in Vicar Street on March 18 and 19, part of ten-night run. Quirky comedian Áine Gallagher is bringing her show A Beautiful Mess to the Smock Alley Theatre from March 14 to 16, which leads into a two-night run of her show For the Love of Milseáin on March 18 and 19. There’ll be two comedy nights on March 18 in The International Bar and a bumper line up of comics playing in the Laughter Lounge on March 17 and 18, headlined by Jarlath Regan.
Plan your next Dublin adventure
Looking for other activities to do in the capital? There are plenty of things to see and do in Dublin all year round.