Slánte! There is nothing more Irish than Dublin on Ireland's biggest public holiday. The shamrocks and green everywhere, flowing pints of the black stuff and pubs bursting at the seams with good craic...the Irish certainly know how to honour their patron saint!
Image by LenDog64 under Creative Commons license.
Falling on the 17th of March, often slap bang in the middle of Lent, St. Patrick's Day in Ireland was once a sombre religious occasion. In 1903, the day became an official public holiday for the people to properly mark the life of their patron saint and the arrival of Christianity on the Emerald Isle. Up until the 1970s, the pubs were even closed on St. Patrick's Day in Ireland.
But cities across the globe embraced the day, particularly those in the US with strong Irish heritage. The first St. Patrick's Day parade in America took place in New York City in 1762. It was only in the 1990's that the Irish government realised what a great tourism opportunity this public holiday could be, and launched the annual St Patrick's Festival.
You've probably celebrated St. Paddy's Day in other parts of the world, now it's time to head to its green, green heart in the capital of the Republic of Ireland.
Image by Zach Dischner under Creative Commons license.
Let's face it, if you've put a visit to Dublin for St Patrick's Day on your bucket list, you probably enjoy a drink or two and don't mind a crowd. It's going to be packed and a lot of people will be very, very drunk. A stay of between two and four days is ideal to make the most of the city during this raucous time, so get your flights and hotel booked as early as you can.
Beyond booze, Dublin is a lively, atmospheric and multicultural city, full of warmth and fun. The four-day festival will give you a taste of its eclectic flavours with many free events. Highlights include a treasure hunt, outdoor interactive art installations and exhibitions, Irish myths and folktales, city walking tours, live music and comedy, film and the Irish boat races between rivals University College Dublin and Dublin University. The whole thing culminates in the big parade on March 17. Download a route map of the parade and events from the festival website.
Back to the pub, you will have no shortage of venues to enjoy your real Irish Guinness, with more than a thousand ale houses within staggering distance - Dublin is a compact city and easy to get round on foot, even if you're decidedly wobbly. Favourites for locals and visitors alike include O'Donoghues, the Stag's Head, the Long Hall, the Palace Bar and the Porterhouse, with many hosting live Irish music. Temple Bar on the Southside is Dublin's infamous party neighbourhood, where you'll find much of the St Patrick's Day action. Make sure you eat big if you're committed to hitting the bottle hard and don't want to turn as green as a shamrock.
Image by Giuseppe Milo under Creative Commons license.
To experience Dublin's St Patrick's Day to the max, treat yourself to some top notch food. The city has become something of a gourmet hub over the last few years, so you could head to The Winding Stair for a boho Irish feast with a twist, Chapter One for Michelin-starred fare or The Chophouse for award-winning gastro pub grub. The Temple Bar Farmers' Market attracts discerning foodies every Saturday morning.
If you've got time to explore the city, the Dublin Pass is a great investment. You'll get free entry to top attractions including the Guinness Storehouse, Old Jameson Distillery and Dublin Zoo plus dining offers and discounts. To complete your Dublin experience, visit St Patrick's Cathedral.
The Irish people and their rich culture will make visiting Dublin for St Patrick's Day one of the most heart-warming and life-affirming holidays on your bucket list.
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Written by Maxine Clarke: a writer, mummy, missus and campervan-lover. Used to travel, now enjoys a good holiday! Follow her on Twitter.