5 Best Cities to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland

If you are planning to be in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day, then you are probably also wondering where the best place is to enjoy the festivities. Discover the best cities to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland in this post to help you start planning your visit.

Best Cities to Celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland

In Ireland, St Patrick’s Day is the biggest day on the Irish cultural calendar. Across the country, communities get together to try to put on the biggest and best St Patrick’s Day celebrations. While every city and town across the Emerald Isle will be celebrating St Patrick’s Day, our pick of the top 5 cities to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland will ensure you get to enjoy the best St Patrick’s Day parades and other festivities as well.

Dublin

If you are looking for the biggest St Patrick’s Day parade, then you need to head to the Irish capital of Dublin.

Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin isn’t just a celebration on the day itself. Since 1996, Dublin has held a festival in honour of the patron saint of Ireland, lasting 3 days initially and becoming a 5-day event from 2006.

Across the city, there are music and dance events as well as street performances and more. The festival also includes the traditional St Patrick’s Day parade through the city centre.

Pubs, of course, are teaming with people out for drinks for St Patrick’s Day. Be warned, though, that pubs in Temple Bar and other areas of the city centre will be very busy. If you don’t mind crowds, pop into any of them. But to avoid the crowds, walk away from the city centre and off into side streets where you will still find a welcoming pint of Guinness. You might even be lucky enough to stumble upon a live music session, known locally as a trad session.

You should plan to spend more time in the city than just St Patrick’s Day as Dublin is a great city to explore. Plan your time in the city with our 3-day Dublin itinerary and add a day for your St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Picture Source: Tourism Ireland

Galway

The capital of the West of Ireland is another great city to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland. It is a lively city in the west of the country, the gateway to Connemara and one of the best cities for St Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

The city holds a 3-day festival, one of the best St Patrick’s Day events in Ireland, which includes a traditional St Patrick’s Day parade. Although the parade can pale in comparison to the parades in Dublin and Cork, it has a more local feel to it and the after-party experience is often better than touristy Dublin. There is also family-orientated entertainment including a free music concert, carousel and amusements too, ideal for those travelling with children.

The pub scene in Galway is a great experience at the best of times, but none more so than around St Patrick’s Day. Remember to ask for your pint of Guinness first as it is the drink that takes the longest to pour and settle.

And there are plenty of things to do in County Galway, so make sure to get out of the city after St Patrick’s Day and discover this part of the Emerald Isle. You won’t be disappointed.

Cork

The second-largest parade in Ireland celebrating St Patrick’s Day takes place in Cork City. The city also plays host to a St Patrick’s Festival lasting several days with markets selling local produce, street performances and of course the obligatory parade.

In recent years, many of the city’s landmarks have been bathed in green light to add to the atmosphere within the city. Many believe that the festivities in Cork are much more family-orientated, so if you are celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Ireland with kids, then Cork may prove a better choice than jam-packed Dublin.

And aside from the festivities, there are plenty of things to do in County Cork and the city, so make sure to allow time before or after St Patrick’s Day to explore more of the city and surrounding areas.

Belfast

Belfast is one of the best places in Northern Ireland to visit. A city with a wealth of things on offer for those who head North, it is also one of the best places to head to if you are wondering where to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

The Belfast St Patrick’s Day parade is the highlight of the celebrations in the city, with colourful floats, eye-catching performances and costumes, all accompanied by music, dancing and more.

The city comes alive with a carnival atmosphere and, like Cork above, many of the iconic buildings are coloured green for St Patrick’s Day. After the parade, there is often a free concert at Custom House Square.

There may also be smaller events such as traditional music sessions, Irish dancing events and more during St Patrick’s Day in Belfast.

Belfast's Titanic Building in green for St Patrick's Day
Picture Source: Gerry Sweeney

Downpatrick

Downpatrick is the town in which Saint Patrick’s is buried, so what better place to celebrate his saint’s day than there. The town has a Saint Patrick’s Visitor Centre and there are two churches named after him as well.

Downpatrick celebrates the day with, among others, a traditional St Patrick’s Day Parade, along with other events around Saint Patrick’s Square. Visitors to the town can also trace the footsteps of the saint with walks along Saint Patrick’s Trail and a climb up Slieve Patrick.

Make sure to take time to step inside the Saint Patrick’s Visitor Centre, where you will find the only permanent exhibition about Ireland’s Patron Saint. Find out more about the exhibition here.

A large mask ready to take part in the Downpatrick St Patrick's Day parade
St Patrick’s Day Downpatrick 2011.
Picture Source: ArdfernCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, whether you want it big and loud and opt for celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Dublin, or want to discover more about the history of the patron saint of Ireland and choose to go to Downpatrick, you won’t be disappointed.

Ireland comes alive on March 17th and no matter where in the country you are, you are sure to have a great time and will get a chance to enjoy the craic. These are simply our top 5 best cities to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

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Cath is an Irish expat now living in Portugal. She regularly returns to Ireland to explore more of the wonderful island with her family.

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