Across the world, St. Patrick’s Day is observed by thousands of people as crowds don their favorite shades of green and hit the streets to celebrate. New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade dates back more than 250 years, the Chicago River is dyed green each year in honor of the holiday, and parades take place in countries from Germany all the way to Japan. However, where better to enjoy the true spirit of the holiday than right in the heart of Dublin, Ireland?
We’ve compiled a guide of how to celebrate like the locals, but first – do you know the origin of the now world-wide phenomenon? The story goes back all the way to the 400s. The man whom the day is named after was originally from Britain. As a teenager, Patrick was taken by Irish pirates and held as a slave. After eventually escaping the island, he returned to Ireland as a Christian missionary and became the patron saint of Ireland after his death, cited as March 17, 461. It became a holy day for the nation’s Catholics, and it has transformed into the day we choose to dress up in green and celebrate all things Irish.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
A foreign concept to its counterparts across the pond, Ireland’s pubs were traditionally closed on St. Patrick’s Day until the 1970s as the day simply offered extra time with family or a special feast for the elite. However, eating restrictions from the Catholic Church during the Lent season, a period of abstaining from certain foods, are historically lifted for the day – which has partially lead to the holiday’s tradition of indulgence.
The St. Patrick’s Day that we have come to know and love evolved out of the celebrations of Irish immigrants outside of their homeland. Now, the holiday spurs a lively celebration within Ireland’s borders that is more about national pride than merrymaking. Yet, there are still plenty of opportunities to sip and savor throughout the city – just don’t expect to find any green beer.
Since you’ll be in Dublin, there will be no shortage of pubs to stop in for food and drinks – more than 700 of them. While you’re more than welcome to head toward the historic Temple Bar, overflowing with visiting revelers, you can also enjoy an authentic Irish experience by choosing any pub throughout the city, finding some locals to chat with, and bobbing your head to live music.
Enjoying the Festivities
Making it easy to remember the past while enjoying the present, Dublin hosts a five-day festival featuring performances, activities and – of course – a parade. Wake up early to grab a great spot to watch the eclectic, two-hour procession that cuts right through the heart of the city and offers a family-friendly atmosphere. Get some cash beforehand to use during the festival at food and souvenir vendors, and remember to pack green to wear on March 17 – but do not plan to dress up as a leprechaun, which may be offensive to locals.
Throughout the week, take time to stroll past iconic buildings, learn some Irish dancing and take part in the festival’s treasure hunt. As you explore the cobblestone streets, join a walking tour or stop to enjoy a street performer show. You can also watch Irish University boat races or burn some calories of your own during an annual 5K race. At night, see the city light up as many historic buildings are dressed in green.
Maximizing Your Ireland Visit
Due to the popularity of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the Emerald Isle, you’ll want to book your trip as early as possible for the best available rates. When planning your visit, make it more than a weekend getaway if time permits; there is plenty to keep you busy throughout Dublin and across the island for days. In addition to taking part in holiday festivities, be sure to tour the Guinness Storehouse, a landmark destination, and visit before or after March 17 to avoid the biggest crowds. Outside of the city, discover breathtaking cliffs and hiking areas as well as ancient castles that will inspire your imagination.
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