Thousands of people flock to the Emerald Isle for our national holiday every year to take part in the festivities that take place across the country. What was once a one-day festival celebration marked by a parade has become a week-long event with workshops, festivals and performances taking place in every corner of the country.
Whether you’re based in Dublin or Donegal you are sure to find something fun happening near you for St. Patrick’s Day. Here are some of our recommendations:
Half a million people attend the parade in Dublin which is one of the world’s largest parades on March 17th. This year’s theme is SEODA – Treasures from Ireland and attendees can expect music, colour, dancing, street performers and some celebrity guest appearances. The parade begins at 12pm and starts at Parnell Square and heads over to the south side via O’Connell Bridge and then on to Dame Street and finishes at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
Taking place after the parade at 3pm in Merrion Square, The Céilí Mór is a free, but ticketed, event. Irish dancers and live traditional Irish musicians will lead the céilí from a stage in the park with instructions in both Irish and English for all to follow. Attendees will learn the moves and take part in a large-scale céilí together soaking up that Irish atmosphere.
Though Dublin’s is the largest of the street parades, there are a host of other fantastic events taking place across the country. Why not escape Temple Bar this year and visit one of the below events?
Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre are hosting a series of events from the 14th to 17th of March with a Snake Trail taking place multiple times each day. Participants will have to explore the maze at Birr Castle to find snakes that were left behind by Saint Patrick. Other events include free face painting, the gallery challenge and a new quest happening in the demesne. Admission to these events is included in the general admission ticket.
Our patron saint led the snakes out of Ireland many years ago, but some seem to have reappeared in Kilkenny. The annual snake hunt takes place on Saturday 14th and Tuesday 17th March between 10am-4pm at Nore Valley Park where volunteers are needed to finish the job that Saint Patrick started.
Kilkenny Tradfest takes place from Thursday 12th to Tuesday 17th March during which you’ll find traditional song, music and dance across the streets and participating venues in Kilkenny. See the Kilkenny Tradfest programme here.
The yearly St. Patrick’s Céilí at Belvedere House will take place at 2pm on Sunday 19th March. You’re sure to enjoy the craic and ceol with live traditional music and dancing in the Visitor Centre courtyard joined by bands including the Celtic Blondes, Mullingar Harp School, Emerald Lakes Academy and other local musicians for an afternoon of fun. Admission is half price on the day and refreshments will be available.
Fota House is hosting self-guided St. Patrick’s Day trails in Irish and English from Saturday 14th to Tuesday 17th of March. Each family will be given a map to follow and will have to figure out clues along the way to complete the trail before returning to the house to receive a treat. Sounds like great fun to us.
Tip: There’s lots more to do in Cork. Discover 10 family-friendly walks in Cork here.
Limerick’s St. Patrick’s festival runs from Saturday 14th to Tuesday 17th March with a host of exciting events taking place throughout. Highlights include the Famous Irish Food Market on Saturday, the 50th Limerick International Band Competition on Sunday that will see over 1,300 musicians and marching bands from Ireland, Europe and the USA filling the streets with music as they compete and, of course, the parade on Tuesday.
Glór Arts Centre in Ennis are hosting two stellar events to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. On Sunday 15th March there’ll be a free, family-friendly evening of music, dance and song at the centre from 4pm and on Tuesday 17th March there’ll be a free trad session from 12pm with face painting available for €2. At 2pm Joe Daly from RTE 2’s AbraKIDabra is hosting a magic show in the centre and tickets can be bought online for €10.
Galway is the European Capital of Culture for 2020 so this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade should be a memorable one. Beginning at 11.30am at Dominick Street and finishing in Eyre Square where the fountain will be dyed green for the occasion. Following the parade there will be a free concert in Eyre Square, children’s entertainment and a carnival with various amusements including a vintage carousel.
Looking for more things to do in Galway? Discover 10 family-friendly walks in Galway here.
As Sligo’s parade is about to enter its 6th decade running this year’s theme is “Through the Decades 1970 - 2020” so you can expect lots of fun throwbacks like neon leg warmers, bell-bottom jeans and perms.
There are also plans to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Leprechauns. Participants will need to wear a white shirt, green waistcoat, black trousers and leprechaun hat to help Sligo steal the title from the people of Bandon who won the title back in 2012 for 1,263 leprechauns.
There’s lots happening in Donegal to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Parades will take place on Tuesday 17th March at Ballyshannon, Bundoran and Letterkenny. A great day will be had at all locations with street performers, floats, entertainers, dancers and more. There is also a 5k St Patrick’s day Road Race taking place in Letterkenny at 10am at Aura Leisure Centre.
On Tuesday 17th of March at St. Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival is taking place in Derry Town. Festivities on the day will include music, dancing, street performers, carnival rides and tasty food stalls. There will also be an exciting carnival parade with over 600 participants in association with Derry’s Greater Shantallow Community Arts and In Your Space at 2pm.
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