UPDATE: Check out our 2012 Guide to Planning for St. Patrick’s Day.
Thanks to a much-needed revamp a few years ago, the St Patrick’s Festival now extends to a whole week of events marking the feast day of Ireland’s patron saint. Many of these events are happening around the capital – so if you’re in Dublin this St Patrick’s week, be sure to check out some of the events below in IrishJaunt’s thematic rundown of what to do to celebrate the holiday.
Where else to start but with the St Patrick’s Day Parade itself? Beginning as usual from Parnell Square at 12pm on Wednesday 17 March. Expect a giant mix of marching bands, dancers, singers and plenty of colourful floats. This year’s theme is ‘Extraordinary World’. If you can’t make it there you can watch the live stream online.
Head to City Hall on Dame Street on Saturday 13 March to sign up for the St Patrick’s Festival Treasure Hunt, a free event with lots of spot prizes to be won. Teams of up to four people including at least one adult are allowed – pre-register online to beat the queues on the day.
Merrion Square turns into a one-day funpark on Sunday 14 March from 12pm-6pm for the Big Day Out. Street theatre and music plus a giant playground are on offer.
Because one funfair is just never enough, there’s three City At Play funfairs on offer this year. Carnival playgrounds on Merrion Square and Wolf Tone Square on the evening of Friday 12 March and all day Saturday 13 – Wednesday 17 March, plus a third funfair on St Patrick’s Day at Custom House Quay.
The annual contemporary celebration of traditional Irish dance, the St Patrick’s Festival Céilí, comes to St Stephen’s Green on Tuesday 16 March between 4pm and 7pm. All with dancing shoes welcome! Donal Lunny is leading A Celebration of Irish Voices, a unique gathering of Irish trad music luminaries, at the National Concert Hall on St Patrick’s Day at 8pm. Tickets from €18 available online. Celtic pop group Kila are playing at The Olympia Theatre on the same night.
This year sees a new event on the fringes of the official festival, the St Patrick’s Salsa Festival. This two-day event at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Dublin 8 will see 25 top instructors give 40 hours of lessons and shows in the famous dance. More details online.
Also outside the festival proper is ‘An Evening of Music and Song with Eleanor Shanley’, a great chance to see some live music in an Irish church. Sandford Parish Church in Ranelagh on Dublin’s southside on Monday 15 March at 8pm. Tickets €15.
‘Bananas on the Breadboard: Stories from the Markets Area, Dublin’ is a 50-minute documentary telling the story of the fruit and vegetable market, fish market, and Smithfield markets around the capital. Screenings at the Light House Cinema on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 March at 2pm, Wednesday 17 March at 4pm. Tickets €6, online booking available.
Meanwhile, the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar is screening another Irish movie, 1971’s ‘Flight of the Doves’ on Sunday 14 March at 11am. Family tickets €15 online. There’s also a special free preview screening of upcoming Irish comedy movie ‘Zonad’ at Cineworld on Parnell Street on Saturday 13 March at 4pm.
If comedy is your thing, head down to the Laughter Lounge on Eden Quay on Friday and Saturday night for Comedy@ The Festival. The Father Ted Show will be reliving the best moments of the famous TV comedy (which now has its own annual festival, by the way) on Friday 12 March and Saturday 13 March at 8.30pm, tickets €25 from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside the festival, Michael Harding will be performing his own play ‘The Tinker’s Curse’ at the Bewley’s Café Theatre from 15 March – 3 April. Show at 1.10pm, and your €15 ticket will also get you a light lunch. Bookable online.
The Irish Architecture Foundation is giving a free Architectural Walking Tour of Dublin on Sunday 14 March at 12.30pm. Starting at the gates of Trinity College, the 90-minute tour includes many historical and contemporary sights of Dublin. Booking required at email@example.com.
To walk ‘In the Footsteps of St Patrick’, take this walking tour from the Dublin Tourism Centre on Suffolk Street on Tuesday 16 March at 12 noon. The 90-minute tour promises to take in many of central Dublin’s historical sights as well as relate the story of the life of Ireland’s patron saint. Tickets €8 or €7 if you book ahead online.
A number of places and spaces in Temple Bar will be transformed into a visual art trail for the duration of the St Patrick’s Festival. Have a look around the district for the specially commissioned pieces of the ‘Shop If You Can, Look If You Want’ outdoor exhibition from Friday 12 March – Wednesday 17 March.
Outside of the festival, you can also take the chance to see Irish realist painter David Dunne’s latest exhibition, ‘Icons’. It’s at The Bad Art Gallery on Francis Street from 4-25 March.
There’s a whole host of events as Gaeilge (in Gaelic) planned for Gaelspraoi, the annual celebration of the Irish language. On Friday 12 March 11am-4pm there’s a game show for teenagers at Filmbase in Temple Bar. At the Hugh Lane Dublin City Gallery there’s a tour and workshop by artist Sinéad Ní Mhaoinigh for teenagers on Friday 12 March 10.30am-12.30pm and for adults on Saturday 13 March from 3-4.30pm.
There’s a special Tóraíocht Taisce, or treasure hunt, leaving from City Hall on Dame Street from 10am-1pm on Saturday 13 March. There’s a puppet show for kids at the Axis Centre in Ballymun on Monday 15 March, 10-11.30am and 12.30-2pm. Tuesday 16 March sees the Cabaret Craiceáilte at the Odeon on Harcourt Street, 9.30pm – 2.30am, €10. An Irish language hillwalk is being held on St Patrick’s Day, departing from Lower Fitzwilliam Street at 10.30am.
The Marie Keating Foundation for breast cancer is staging an 80-metre Stiletto Heel Dash before the St Patrick’s Day parade at 11.30am on O’Connell Street. Register online for €25 per person or keep up with the tall trotters on Twitter @highheelrun.
While not part of the festival itself, there’s also the St Patrick’s 5k Festival Road Race & Family Run, departing from the Mansion House on Dawson Street at 12pm on Sunday 14 March.
The Ark children’s cultural centre in Temple Bar is holding a young people’s forum on Monday 15 March at 2pm entitled ‘Young Voices: Irish Youth in a Borderless World’. Meanwhile for grown-ups, there’s an open talk on the significance of Ireland and the Irish to the world entitled ‘Voices: An Evening of Big Ideas’. Guest speakers at the event at Tripod on Harcourt Street on Tuesday 16 March at 6.30pm include broadcasters, journalists, authors and politicians. Seats can be reserved at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outside of the festival itself, there’s also a poety reading at The Observatory on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay by Máighréad Medbh & Paula Meehan on Thursday 16 March at 7pm.
By Bill Lehane