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Where to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Ready to sham-rock the night away? Here are our five favourite places to celebrate March 17.

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Our guide to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland
Our guide to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

Whether green washes out your skin tone or you’re confident leading a pub choir in ‘The Irish Rover’, you've probably celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at least once in your life.

March 17 is a time for the Irish, Irish enthusiasts and beer lovers among us to partake in all-round revelry. It’s a day of parades. A day where work is optional. A day that honours a patron saint who wasn’t really named Patrick and who wasn’t really Irish.

If you’ve never spent March 17 celebrating that fateful beer-guzzling, leprechaun hat-donning day in the country where it all began, perhaps it’s time to.

We’ve lined up our favourite places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. It goes without saying that all of these locations are BYO shamrock.

Dublin

Head straight for the pot of gold. Which in the scheme of St. Patrick’s Day festivities is Dublin. For five days, this place is party central, involving a delicious food trail, potato farm experience, treasure hunt, beer and whiskey festivals, live music, walking tours, storytelling, and above all, a parade.

If crowds have you scowling to yourself as you dodge and dive out of (or into) fellow travellers’ way, Dublin won’t be for you. Each St. Patrick’s Day, more than half a million people flock there to soak up the carnival atmosphere.

The city can also be fairly pricey year-round. So, if you haven’t two pennies to rub together, you might want to book a stint in Dublin well in advance or venture out of the city.

Put a Cork in it

If you’ve already done your Dublin dash, point your trusty compass to the emerald isle’s beautiful southwest. Cork offers a more low-key, family-friendly version of festivities, still factoring in a talented crew of street entertainers and again, a colourful parade.

Surround yourself with greenery in Killarney

If your way of celebrating Ireland's patron saint doesn’t involve one of the country’s bigger cities, you’re in luck. Four leaves of luck. Killarney’s St. Patrick’s festival packs in the Celtic spirit, sans the big crowds. The festival features kids fun zones, cèilidh, themed lake cruises, and scavenger hunts.

For those pining for greenery that can’t be found in dyed beer or oversized novelty sunglasses, there are opportunities to hike throughout the stunning Killarney National Park and to learn the fascinating folklore of the region and witness the tranquil Killarney lakes.

Go big at Giant’s Causeway

Spending St. Patrick's at Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site is an entirely different way of approaching the festivities. The National Trust is hosting a day of traditional Irish music and dance and a special Leprechaun trail for the kids.

Pair this with a surrounding landscape packed with the geological wonders of Giant’s Causeway and you’ve got a St. Patrick’s celebration unlike any other in Ireland.

Be an early bird in Dingle

If you’re someone that loves to rise early – and let everyone know about it – then Dingle will make you tingle. The town’s St. Patrick’s parade is the earliest in the country, kicking off at 6am. Join the musical stylings of the Dingle Fife and Drum band, followed by an early morning mass at St. Mary's Parish Church.

For the late-risers, there’s also an afternoon parade, which can be a blessing after a night on the black stuff. While you're in Dingle, take a break from the heavy pints to savour a smooth single malt at Dingle Distillery or road trip through Dingle Peninsula, a region rich in history and rugged seascapes.

Plan your upcoming Irish holiday with us. From driving the Wild Atlantic Way to exploring the remote Inishowen Peninsula, we’ve got plenty of unforgettable escorted tours in Ireland.

Serena is a writer based in London. Born in Malaysia and raised in Australia, she calls the UK home despite only recently acclimatising to the dearth of sunshine. Her writing has appeared in The Independent, Business Insider, South China Morning Post, i-D, Refinery29, Glamour, Vox, Metro, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Cosmopolitan. She has also published a book of aerial photography: How Women See The World. Throughout her decade-long career, Serena has told the stories of Arctic explorers, human rights activists, award-winning chefs, refugees, and the UK’s last lighthouse keepers.

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