The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin: The Complete Guide

How to Join the St. Patrick's Day Celebrations in the Irish Capital

Costumed performers march in the Dublin's St. Patrick's Day Parade

William Murphy / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Every year on March 17, Dublin's inner-city experiences a period of unusual quiet (when the gardai—or police—have closed all streets for traffic) before being taken over by parades and revelers who flock to the Irish capital to join in the annual celebrations for St. Patrick's Day.

The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin is one of the most exciting annual events on the Emerald Isle, and its unmissable route travels right through the heart of the city.

St. Patrick's Day 2021

The St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin was canceled in 2021, but some of the accompanying events are taking place virtually. Wherever you are in the world, you can access all kinds of cultural events, including musical performances, Celtic stories, lessons on Irish cooking, children's activities, comedy specials, and much more. Online events are planned from March 12–17 and all of them are free to attend.

Parade Information

The St. Patrick's Day parade is the central event in the multi-day St. Patrick's Day Festival held in Dublin every year. The parade always takes over the center of Dublin on March 17, regardless of the day of the week that the holiday falls upon.

The parade usually starts at Parnell Square and the route moves down O'Connell Street; crosses the O'Connell Bridge; continues down Westmoreland Street; turns down Dame Street; moves down Nicolas Street and Patrick Street; then follows Kevin Street and ends at Wexford Street right before St. Stephen's Green.

The parade is free to view if you can find space on the street. However, you can also book seats in the grandstands at the start of the parade route (on Parnell Square).

Get ready for marching bands, floats, costumes, and lots of fun entertainment over the course of the parade as it winds its way through the city.

Tips for Attending

Getting around the small center of Dublin on St. Patrick's Day can be complicated if you aren't prepared for the festivities. So don your greenest outfit and follow these tips for fully enjoying your holiday in Dublin.

  • Arrive early. The Irish tend to be late risers on days off—but not so on St. Patrick's Day. Dublin's streets start to fill up around 9 a.m. in anticipation of the parade. An hour before the parade starts, all of the best viewing spots are likely already taken. So rise and shine and get there early to secure yourself a decent spot to enjoy the parade.
  • Don't drive. Unless you really know what you are doing, where you are going to park, and which roads the police are (not) closing down: just don't drive. Take public transportation (which will run to a Sunday timetable due to the holiday) or walk. To be honest, driving in Dublin is difficult on any day, but on Saint Patrick's Day, it is sheer craziness.
  • Stay alert in the crowd. There is a certain correlation between large crowds and petty crime like pick-pocketing and purse-snatching. Dublin is no exception to this rule. So think about safety before you head into Dublin. Just take what you need, leave those diamond necklaces at home, and wear your purse close to your body.
  • Make a plan about where to meet. Around 750,000 people flood the Dublin streets on St. Patrick's Day, all of them trying to get somewhere fast once the parade has passed. You'll be body-surfing a sea of humanity and running the risk of losing contact with the rest of your party. So just make sure everybody knows when and where to regroup.
  • Make your reservations for after the parade. St. Patrick's Day is one of the busiest days of the year in Dublin. The pubs will be packed with partiers, which can certainly add to the fun. However, if you want a quieter space to rest after the parade, be sure to book your Dublin hotel and restaurant tables well in advance.
  • Keep a close eye on kids. There will be music, eye-catching performers, and lots of excitement. Make sure that kids don't stray too far because they can quickly become lost in a crowd, and even a few minutes of separation can become traumatic for both child and parent. Avoid the stress and keep an eye on them.
  • Familiarize yourself with the route. Do you need to head southwards after the parade? Watch it on a Southside street, from the southern side of the street. Would you rather see the celebrities arrive and the freshest performers? Head for the first half-mile of the route to find the best spot. A bit of planning will pay off, and the route is well-publicized weeks before March 17. If you plan to be near the VIP areas, try to be on the same side of the road as those very important people, or you risk seeing only the backs of performers.
  • Plan where to stand. Overcast skies and rain are the norm in Dublin, so you aren't likely to see much sunshine regardless of where you stand. But in case the sun does come out, look at the route beforehand to plan out a viewing area where you'll be in the sun.
  • Bring your camera. This is one of the events of the year in Dublin and you will want to share the experience. Bring your camera for great details shots or, at the very least, have your phone ready to take a few shots and videos of the best performers.
  • Be careful with alcohol consumption. Drinking Guinness beer and Irish whiskey is part of the celebration for St. Patrick's Day, but be careful not to overdo it. The streets can get rowdy with inebriated revelers, so keep your wits and limit your number of alcoholic beverages.
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