People dressed in green and with beards dancing in streets of Dublin.
Dublin is home of the biggest and best St. Paddy's celebrations in all of Ireland.
Photo Credit: Flickr / giuseppemilo

5 of the Best Places in Ireland to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Head to the Emerald Isle for a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration You’ll Never Forget

Visiting Ireland on and around St. Patrick’s Day may be one of the most fun and enlightening ways to get an authentic look at Irish culture while experiencing all of its green, which comes in every shade from vibrant Kelly green to shamrock green to forest green.

As this time of year marks the beginning of spring, you should also be sure to check out some of the most beautiful places to visit in Ireland. You’ll be able to catch some of the island’s most magnificent waterfalls at their best, while being surrounded by rich greenery and hills that seem to stretch endlessly.

Of course, the chance to take part in some of the world’s biggest St. Paddy’s Day celebrations is the icing on the cake. Where better to celebrate than the place where it all began? Here are the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Ireland you need to experience.

Dublin

In honor of its patron saint, St. Patrick’s Day is by far the grandest holiday in Ireland, and Dublin — the largest and capital city of the country — hosts the biggest and the best. The five day celebration will be hosted from March 15 to 19 in 2018, featuring parades, street performances and an abundance of food, drink and merriment.

This massive, wild party pretty much guarantees fun and an unforgettable experience, though there’s bound to be a little chaos with thousands of people coming from across the country and the globe to attend.

If you aren’t one for big crowds, you might want to head to one of Ireland’s charming small towns which can offer many of the big city delights without the need to weave in and out of all those people.

The Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade will be hosted on the actual feast day, March 17, kicking off at noon. The theme this year is “Home is Where the Heart is,” with the nation’s leading street theater and pageant companies artistically coming together to provide spectacular creations and flamboyant performances that are inspired by “all things home.”

Bands from far and wide will be delivering their mesmerizing, uplifting rhythms and musical scores that will echo throughout the street during the procession.

In addition to the parade, street performances and food and drink (including a Beer Village), you’ll have the opportunity to take part in carnival rides, walking tours and an Irish craft beer festival. The 5K road race is a great way to burn off all of those calories, and there are even boat races hosted by Dublin University on the River Liffey.

Just keep in mind that if you hope to stay in or around the city during this time, you’ll need to book your accommodations as far in advance as possible. Once you’re there, arrive to the streets of Dublin for the parade early — at least by 9:00 a.m. — if you hope to get a view one of the world’s most colorful celebrations without too much interruption.

Of course, before or after the holiday, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy other Dublin attractions and visit many other areas that are just a short distance north or south of the city center, including a string of pretty coastal towns, harbors and beaches.

Dingle Peninsula, near Dingle town, IrelandFor a quieter St. Patrick's Day and some stunning scenery, head to Dingle.Photo Credit: K.C. Dermody

Dingle

If you’re not the type of person who wants to deal with hordes of tourists and want to experience some of the postcard-perfect scenery Ireland is so well-known for, head to Dingle, the only major town on the Dingle Peninsula, located on the west coast.

It’s renowned for its stunning emerald hills that are dotted with thatched, white-washed cottages, countless sheep and dramatic cliffs that plunge down to the brilliant turquoise sea below. The hilltop medieval town itself overlooks a bustling harbor that’s become famous for its resident dolphin Fungi, while vibrantly-hued buildings ramble up and down the hilly streets.

In addition to the scenery, Dingle is best loved for its countless pubs that offer lots of character along with nightly sessions that include traditional music. Here, those Irish tunes are paired with parties that are likely to go on through the wee hours of the night.

Not surprisingly, the town also celebrates St. Patrick’s Day in a big way. Celebrations start early: the festivities begin just before the sun comes up. The Fife and Drum band starts what is typically one of two parades that travel throughout the town, but you’ll need to take to the streets by 6:00 a.m. if you hope to see it all.

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Harbor in Cork, IrelandCork is often referred to as "the other capital city" due to its fierce rivalry with Dublin.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cork

The second largest city in Ireland blithely states that this is “THE place to be on St. Patrick’s weekend.” It’s well-known for its rivalry with Dublin, and is often called “the other capital city,” which means you can expect lots of boisterous activity here with people jam-packed into the pubs.

It’s actually best-known for hosting the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade, situated in Dripsey, about 30 minutes from the city center. The parade traveled just 100 yards, between the village’s two pubs. Dripsey held this record for nine years until 2007 when one of the pubs, the Lee Valley Inn, closed.

Nowadays, Cork offers a more substantial parade, running from the South Mall to the Grand Parade along St. Patrick’s Street before culminating at Merchant’s Quay. A festival is hosted too, incorporating music, street performers, children’s workshops and a food and crafts market.

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