It’s that time of year… okay, no it’s not that time of year again. St. Patrick’s Day is not, in fact, just around the corner. It is 6 months away. What does this mean? It means it’s time for you to start planning. Do you think I’m crazy? Well, maybe I am, but it’s never too early to start getting your trip together if you’re planning to come to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day.
Contrary to very popular urban myth, St. Patrick’s Day has not always been a drinking holiday in Ireland. For years, nay, centuries, it was a simple, quiet church festival that nobody ever heard of. In the ’80s, some smart people (aka the local tourism boards) started vamping it up, and by “vamping it up”, I mean “letting a few locals make up a few less-than-worthy papier maché leprechauns and let kids ride down the streets of Dublin in red wagons.”
Nevermind, today, St. Patrick’s Festival is a huge weeklong affair across Ireland, with many of the festivities centred in Dublin and branching out into the surrounding communities. It’s the type of festival that every non-Irish person wants to see sometime in their lives and every Irish person wants to avoid for their entire lives.
But all kidding aside – I am being serious when I say that you should start planning now. Hotels, especially, book up very quickly for St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, especially in Dublin. Prices go up during that week and flights can also book out. It’s Ireland’s busiest week of the year, hands down.
So we here at IrishJaunt have decided to give you a little one up on the competition with this handy guide for getting down and dirty spending St. Patrick’s Day 2012 in Ireland.
Accommodation for St. Patrick’s Day 2012
You’ll want to book your hotel now. It’s the first thing you should do, because no matter how many hotels and hostels there are in Dublin (and believe me, there are plenty), they will still all be booked out when you get around to actually booking this thing in February. Do it now. Here are a few options for every budget:
6-8 Wellington Quay
+353 (0)1 407 0800
What could be more Irish than a hotel owned by Ireland’s own Bono and The Edge of U2 fame? Beyond its rock-star owners, the Clarence is actually a gorgeous hotel with traditional mahogany interior and simple yet modern decor, if you’re in the mood to splash out a bit. It’s also got a great location, right along the quays (that’s pronounced “keys”) on the River Liffey, and it’s not far from the St. Patrick’s Day parade route, which goes right through Dublin City Centre. Deluxe king rooms from €205 for St. Patrick’s Day 2012.
+353 (0)1 454 0000
I always recommend this sweet little hotel, The Harding Hotel, to people who want a nicer option but don’t have a ton of money to throw around. Unfortunately, they are already booked out for St. Patrick’s Day 2012. See what I mean? A decent alternative is the Jury’s Inn. Albeit a chain (at least it’s an Irish one, okay?), Jury’s is always reliable, clean and offers a decent breakfast. Their Dublin Christchurch location is also handy for the city centre and is located quite near to the usual parade route, as well as overlooking the beautiful spires of Christchurch Cathedral.
I would love to recommend to you what I consider to be the two best hostels in Dublin (based on vast experience) – Litton Lane Hostel and the Times Hostel. Alas, both of them are already booked out for St. Patrick’s Day 2012. Congrats, you’ve already missed the boat! What I can do is point you toward a very handy search of Dublin hostels with availability for St. Patrick’s Day 2012 courtesy of Hostelworld.com. Again, I strongly urge you to make your booking immediately, because these will go and they will go soon.
Flights for St. Patrick’s Day 2012
If you are coming from outside of Ireland, you also need to book a flight. Flights will be a little easier, but not much. You really will want to book them straight away. Within the next month or two, at least, so that you don’t end up either a) looking at a list of totally full flight schedules and crying into your mop-water expat Irish pub Guinness or b) paying out the wazoo for a last-minute ticket and not being able to afford real pints of Guinness while you’re here.
I personally cannot recommend Aer Lingus enough. They are the national carrier of Ireland. I know a lot of Irish people bemoan Aer Lingus. It is actually rather en vogue in Ireland to give out constantly about the state of Aer Lingus and how awful they are.
I respectfully disagree. I have never had a bad experience with them. They’ve never lost my luggage. They’ve never changed my flights. Their seats are comfy. They offer lovely Irish tea after dinner and well, when you’re an awe-struck tourist or a homesick paddy, it’s those sweet Aer Lingus flight attendants with their lovely Irish accents that just make you feel so welcome. (I swear, I am not being paid by Aer Lingus for this post).
From North America, it’s fairly easy to fly with Aer Lingus, as they are now partnered with Jet Blue to connect to a bunch of U.S. cities via Chicago O’Hare, New York JFK and LAX, among others. They also run fairly decent fares to Ireland from both North America and around Europe, and they have some nice packaged holidays in their Vacation Store, in case you want to bundle your hotel, flight and maybe even a car hire together in one go.
If you’re unsure or just want to consider other options, here is a handy map of all airlines that fly to Dublin, courtesy of the Dublin Airport Authority.