Biggest and Best St Patrick’s Day Events in Ireland

The biggest day on the Irish calendar is the 17th of March, St Patrick’s Day. Ireland comes alive to celebrate the feast of the patron saint of Ireland and across the country, people and communities celebrate this day in style. If you are looking to partake in some festivities on that day, then you’ll need to know where the biggest and best St Patrick’s Day events in Ireland are.

March 17th is the biggest day on the Irish cultural calendar and is also a national holiday, allowing the country to enjoy itself in a host of Saint Patrick’s Day festivals, parades, and events. Up and down the country, cities and towns play host to events that bring everyone out and together for a day (and sometimes even a week) of celebration in honour of the patron saint of Ireland. If you are looking for some events to attend, discover the best places to go for St Patrick’s Day in Ireland and the events and festivities taking place there.

A picture of a green foil balloon with a shamrock and the words Happy St Patricks Day on it
Picture Source: Hongreddotbrewhouse, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Best St Patrick’s Day Events in the Republic of Ireland

The Dublin St Patrick’s Day festival

The biggest St Patrick’s festival Ireland has is the one taking place over five days in Dublin around the national holiday. This festival began in 1996 with it becoming a three-day event a year later, and then a four-day event in 2006.

Each year there is a theme to the festival, with past themes including 2021’s Dúisigh Éire! (Awaken Ireland!). The festival includes events such as literary events, family carnivals, street performances, parties and live music across the city centre, with the festival normally culminating in the biggest St Patrick’s Day parade through the centre of Dublin from Parnell Square to St Stephen’s Green via O’Connell Street and Dame Street.

The Dublin St Patrick’s Day parade is the largest event in the country, attended by tens of thousands of people who descend on the city to enjoy the colourful floats and musical bands who flock from all over the world to take part.

When it comes to St Patrick’s Day events in Ireland, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Dublin St Patrick’s Day Festival.

The parade and festival for St Patrick’s Day Dublin 2021 were broadcast on a dedicated online TV channel at stpatricksfestival.ie and included a spectacular drone show above Dublin for the festival, highlights of which you can see on Youtube.

More information.

A picture of some of the participants and floats of the St Patrick's Day Parade, Dublin 2015
Dublin Parade 2015.
Picture Source: Giuseppe Milo from Dublin, Ireland, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Seachtain na Gaeilge – Various locations

This huge two-week festival that celebrates the Irish language, heritage and culture take place across Ireland and around the world. With both location and online events, it starts on St David’s Day (1st March) and ends on St Patrick’s Day.

Events include Ceilí (dance), concerts, coffee mornings, table quiz as Gaeilge (in Irish), and more. The final day of this festival is St Patrick’s Day. Cities where you will find events for this include Tullamore (Offaly) which holds a 5-day event leading up to Paddy’s Day, Galway, Dublin and Derry (Northern Ireland).

More information.

St Patrick’s Day Festival Galway

Galway plays host to a large parade on March 17th that runs through the city for over an hour beginning at 11.30 am. This long-running parade (119 years and counting) is the city’s chance to showcase local artists and community groups who put their heart and soul into their contributions. It also kicks off a 3-day festival celebrating St Patrick’s Day, making it one of the best places in Ireland to celebrate St Patrick’s Day.

Other smaller events take place around the city and the fountain in Eyre Square turns green during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. After the parade, there is family-friendly entertainment including a free concert, carousels and other amusements.

More information.

St Patrick’s Day Festival Bray

Bray, in County Wicklow, holds an annual five-day festival leading up to St Patrick’s Day. This event showcases the best of Irish culture and craic. On the last day of the festival, a large parade takes place in Bray with lots of local performers taking part. In previous years, the parade has taken place at 3 pm.

More information.

Wicklow Town St Patrick’s Day Parade

Wicklow Town celebrates St Patrick’s Day with a parade, normally beginning at 3.150pm in the afternoon. 25 minutes north of Wicklow Town, Greystones also holds an annual St Patrick’s Day parade.

More information.

Longford Town St Patrick’s Day Parade

Longford Town Chamber of Commerce organises a St Patrick’s Day parade annually that has been running since 1974. Visitors to the town can enjoy musical, artistic and dance performances alongside colourful floats.

More information.

Cork’s St Patrick’s Festival

The Cork St Patrick’s Day Festival takes place over 5 days ending with Ireland’s second-biggest St Patrick’s Day Parade. The festival includes a market where you can enjoy local treats and produce, live music, street performances, and of course the parade on St Patrick’s Day which runs from South Mall to Merchant’s Quay. With lots of events taking place for St Patrick’s Day, Cork is another great city to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

More information.

A marching band taking part in the St Patrick's Day Parade, Cork
Cork St Patrick’s Day Parade 2013.
Picture Source: Guliolopez, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Killarney St Patrick’s Day Festival

In 2015, the annual St Patrick’s Day parade through the streets of Killarney was transformed into a festival that lasts for several days. Those visiting the city for the national holiday time can enjoy street ceilís, treasure hunts, lake cruises, and of course, the parade itself on the 17th. Floats, bands and other performers put on a spectacle not to be missed and each year the festival has a theme.

More information here and here.

St Patrick’s Day Festival Kilkenny

Dubbed the ‘big festival in a small city, the Paddy’s Day festival in Kilkenny takes place over five days and runs alongside ‘Trad Fest’, a music festival bringing visitors performers from the best Irish musicians in live venues across the city.

As well as the main event, the St Patrick’s Day Parade, there are also other events taking place during the festival including workshops, music performances, and more.

More information.

A picture of a band taking part in the St Patrick's Day concert, Kilkenny
St Patrick’s Day Festival concert 2018.
Picture Source: Hinnerk Rümenapf (Hinnerk R), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Limerick St Patrick’s Festival

Limerick enjoys a carnival atmosphere which begins with the St Patrick’s Day Spring festival and ends with the International Band Festival a few days later. Each St Patrick’s Day is themed and as well as the traditional parade, festival-goers can also enjoy a panoramic wheel, live music, other events and finally the band championship.

More information.

Waterford St Patrick’s Day Parade

Waterford City Council holds an annual St Patrick’s Day parade in the centre of the city to mark the national holiday. Each year there is a theme to the parade and community groups, businesses and schools go all out to create the best floats and performances to delight those who flock to see the parade.

More information.

Waterford Parade Float for St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day Parade in Waterford 2019.
Picture Source: William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Kiltimagh Saint Patrick’s Festival

The longest-running Saint Patrick’s Day Festival in Ireland is in Kiltimagh, in County Mayo. Established in 1989, this week-long festival celebrates Irish tradition and culture with events including music, dance and art. And of course, no St Patrick’s Day festival would be complete without a parade too.

More information.

Letterkenny St Patrick’s Day Parade

The biggest parade in County Donegal takes place in Letterkenny. Normally starting at 3 pm, the parade gets bigger and better each year with local businesses, communities and schools taking part.

More information.

Carrick-on-Shannon St Patrick’s Day Parade

Carrick-on-Shannon Chamber organises an annual parade through the town to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. The parade sees local businesses and communities enter parades and marching bands and there is entertainment such as face-painting and traditional Irish dancing. The town is brought further to life with themed window displays, for which there is a competition.

More information.

Best St Patrick’s Day Events in Northern Ireland

St Patrick’s Day Parade Belfast

Even in Northern Ireland, they celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Belfast holds a parade every year in the city centre followed by a live music concert. A vibrant, carnival-like atmosphere descends on the city, with colourful floats accompanied by music snaking its way through the city centre. The route for the parade normally begins at Belfast’s famous City Hall and ends at Writers Square.

More information.

A large puppet of St Patrick taking part in the St Patrick's Day parade, Belfast
Belfast St Patrick’s Day Parade 2015.
Picture Source: Ardfern, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

St Patrick’s Day Parade Derry

For St Patrick’s Day, Derry is another city in Northern Ireland that holds a parade in the afternoon of Paddy’s Day. Participants from across the city gather in the centre to put on an unforgettable performance in the walled city. Expect community groups, floats, marching bands, street performers and more. Afterwards, revellers can enjoy a live music concert at Guildhall Square.

More information.

St Patrick’s Day Festival Downpatrick

Saint Patrick died in Saul and is buried in the grounds of Down Cathedral in Downpatrick. As a result, the city celebrates the saint with lots of events as well as the traditional parade. Community groups come together to put on a packed programme of fun entertainment and live events.

More information.

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

At Home with St. Patrick Festival Armagh

For St Patrick’s Day, Armagh plays host to a lively, week-long festival packed with cultural, music and dance events, as well as a parade on the 17th. With two cathedrals in his name, this is a great city to enjoy St Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

More information.

Whether you are based in Ireland and are wondering where the best St Patrick’s Day celebrations near me are, or if you are visiting the Emerald Isle around the national holiday, I hope this post has shown you the best places to go in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day. No matter whether you choose to enjoy the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, or choose to venture elsewhere, you are sure to enjoy all the craic and festivities that Paddy’s Day in Ireland brings.

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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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