St. Patrick's Day is the most important national holiday in Ireland and a fantastic opportunity to experience the best of Irish culture. Themed celebrations typically span a few days through the weekend closest to March 17. During the festive period, the country is drenched in green decor and illuminations, as all cities throughout the country host parades, festivals, and other merriments to mark the big occasion. We've rounded up our top five destinations.
St. Patrick's Festival & Parade in Dublin (March 15–18, 2024)
The capital city of Ireland is, with no doubt, the number one! Dublin annually hosts a huge St. Patrick's Festival with a Parade along O'Connell Street, a 5K Race, and a bunch of family-friendly activities. The annual Parade boasts 18 special pageants, 14 marching bands from Ireland, North America, and France, as well as 4,000 participants overall. Dozens of special events take place at Dublin's Temple Bar. Besides, you can enjoy the merriments of street carnival, including genuine Irish singing or storytelling, face painting, and concerts. The only drawback of St. Patrick's in Dublin could be large crowds.
Cork St. Patrick's Festival (March 15–18, 2024)
A decent alternative to Dublin's St. Patrick's is Cork city in the south of Ireland. Cork St. Patrick's Festival is a large-scale carnival, famous mainly for its St. Patrick's Parade, featuring marching bands, dancers, and theatre performers. Besides, Cork boasts excellent Irish cuisine. You can indulge yourself at Barry's Tea Market and Mahon Point Farmers Market. Plus, make sure to walk around the city center after dark on March 17—over 40 of Cork's landmarks will go green!
St. Patrick's Day in Kilkenny (March 15–18, 2024)
If you are looking for a less touristy spot, opt for Kilkenny. The small medieval town will mesmerize you with its castle and historic buildings, as well as a big parade during St. Patrick's Day Festival Kilkenny. You can see American marching bands, partake in workshops, enjoy free events for the whole family, and dance to the live Irish music played by national and international artists within Kilkenny Tradfest. The Tradfest is accessible to everyone thanks to the option of free and ticketed events. Past lineups included Altan, Andy Irvine, Beoga, Brian Kennedy, Brid Harper, Paul Brady, Jiggy, John and Pip Murphy, John Spillane, Caladh Nua, Colm Mac, and Con Iomaire.
Limerick St. Patrick's Festival (March 16–18, 2024)
Families will also appreciate St. Patrick's Day festivities in Limerick City. Limerick St. Patrick's Festival is a city-wide gala, which involves street entertainment and special events held across local theatres, museums, and libraries. The highlights include a vivid parade, music acts, dance shows, arts and crafts sessions, and greenings, of course.
St. Patrick's Day in Galway (March 17, 2024)
The last suggestion is Galway in the west of Ireland, which does draw tourists, but not the foreign ones. Most people you encounter across the city's pubs will probably be Irish from different corners of the country. Thus, Galway will perfectly suit those seeking a purely authentic party. Galway's St. Patrick's Day Parade might seem somewhat low-key, compared with other destinations, but you'll feast with locals, which is a unique adventure.
Whatever option you choose, we have to warn you that alcohol consumption during the holiday is quite high. So, if you travel with kids, be sure to get off the streets before they turn crowded and messy.