St. Patrick’s Day is known, and celebrated, around the world. However, while Chicago may dye the river green, and New York City is known to hold the largest parade, there’s nothing like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. So, if you are going to be in the emerald isle for March 17th, here are the best cities to celebrate in.
St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin
When it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, Dublin is the first city that comes to mind. St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin promises to be a party, as the capital has the biggest and busiest party in the country.
Dublin’s Temple Bar is where most of the action takes place. A carnival-style parade weaves its way through the streets of Temple Bar which is the highlight of the day. Locals and tourists alike flock to the streets to enjoy the spectacle before heading off to the pubs or, in the case of most locals, back home.
While the famous parade does take place on the 17th, anyone planning on spending St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin will want to make sure they arrive a few days before, as some celebrations start early. Make sure to walk around in the evening after dark to see some of Dublin’s most iconic buildings lit up with green lights in anticipation for the holiday.
If you are looking for a crazy party, then you want to experience St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin.
St. Patrick’s Day in Kilkenny
Kilkenny is a beautiful medieval city known for its majestic castle and historical architecture. While it’s significantly smaller than Dublin, St. Patrick’s Day in Kilkenny promises something special.
While Kilkenny also has a parade and plenty of pubs with flowing beer, the highlight of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Kilkenny is experiencing the TradFest. Kilkenny’s Tradfest takes place over the course of 5 days (including March 17th) and includes activities and entertainment for people of all ages. It’s a popular event for locals, making it perhaps a little more authentic than the touristic celebrations that take place in Dublin.
If you are looking for a fun celebration filled with Irish music and dance, then you want to experience St. Patrick’s Day in Kilkenny.
St. Patrick’s Day in Galway
Galway is known for having the best ‘craic’ in Galway, so it’s no surprise that this western city makes it on the list of the best cities to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland. I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in Galway in 2014 and while the parade was quite small and low-key compared to the photos and videos you see from Dublin, it’s definitely more of a local rather than touristy experience.
The after-party experience also seemed to be much more local in Galway. In Dublin, it’s mostly tourists that flock to the pubs in Temple Bar. However, in Galway, most of the people I met were Irish but from elsewhere in the country, coming to Galway’s great pubs to celebrate.
If you are looking to drink and party with the locals, then you want to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Galway.
St. Patrick’s Day in Cork
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and promises to deliver plenty of action on Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s a big and busy celebration, but much more family oriented than the party in Dublin. From parades to pop up markets to live music and more, there are plenty of organized activities in place for St. Patrick’s Day in Cork, so many in fact that the celebration runs for three days (March 16th-18th).
For families looking to celebrate, the best choice is to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Cork.
St. Patrick’s Day in Waterford
St. Patrick’s Day in Waterford, at a glance, is really no different than the celebrations in the other cities. It has a big parade but not a huge one like Dublin, there are special events but no additional festivals like in Kilkenny, and it’s no more of less local or family-friendly than anywhere else. But, what Waterford has going for it that is unique, is that Waterford was the first city to declare St. Patrick’s Day a holiday, and that in itself is worth celebrating.
Before 1903, St. Patrick’s Day was not an actual holiday anywhere in Ireland. It was the Waterford Corporation (essentially the city council) who decided to suspend business for the day and declare St. Patrick’s Day a general holiday throughout the city. Which kind of makes sense in a funny way, because Waterford is also Ireland’s oldest city.
If you love history, then spending St. Patrick’s Day in Waterford, Ireland is a must.
While these cities may be the best known or offer some unique activities, there is no bad choice. Whatever Irish city you choose promises to offer a great experience for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.