If you are planning to join in the festivities on the 17th of March in the Irish capital (or anywhere else in the country), then you are going to need these tips for celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Dublin Ireland, and how to stay safe while enjoying the atmosphere in the city.
With nearly half a million people flocking to the Irish capital to enjoy the St Patrick’s Day Dublin parade, it is no wonder that you need to keep your wits about you.
Just like any big event in any city across the world, you need to be aware of things like pickpocketing, queues, and other things to consider to keep you and your friends safe.
As well as tips for staying safe, this article includes tips for celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Dublin or other cities across Ireland.
They are all aimed at ensuring you and your friends enjoy yourself while staying safe.
Tips for celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Ireland
Whether you are going to be visiting Dublin for St Patrick’s Day or another city in the country, here are some helpful tips to bear in mind for your big day out.
Watch your belongings
With the huge numbers of people in and around the city centre, you will need to be mindful of pickpockets and petty thieves.
Keep your belongings close to you and hidden as much as possible. If you are taking a bag with you, ensure it is an anti-theft cross-body bag or anti-theft belt bag.
And only bring what is absolutely necessary.
Prepare for long lines and queues
If you are going to watch the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin and want a front-row view, you need to claim your spot at least 1-2 hours before the start of the parade.
The route is lined with crowd barriers and once the parade starts, the most popular spots will be several people deep.
Likewise, lines for toilets, pubs, taxis, and restaurants will be long on this day, especially after the parade. So, expect to have to queue.
Only carry enough money for what you will need to pay for, be it novelty souvenirs, drinks, or food.
Carry only 1 debit or credit card and leave your others in the safe in your hotel room or accommodation. It is also advisable that if you have a contactless card, place it inside an RFID wallet or sleeve.
And try to get your cash from an ATM the day before as you may find long queues at ATMs, that is if they have any money left in them!
If you are travelling as a group, organise a buddy system before the day itself. Ensure everyone has a buddy and that you agree on meeting points should anyone become separated.
A buddy system will be even more important for later on St Patrick’s Day if you are going to enjoy some of the craic in the pubs or around Temple Bar. With lots of revelers, it can be easy to become separate.
And whatever you do, do not leave anyone behind anywhere. If you want to go back to your accommodation before your buddy, agree that someone else takes your place.
Bring a portable phone charger
Unless your phone battery is amazing, you may find that after taking hundreds of pictures of the parade, your battery will be running low.
And if the night is still young, you will want to make sure you still have battery to call your friends or even a cab at the end of the night.
So, to avoid your phone going dead, pop a portable phone charger into your bag or belt to use later in the day/night.
St Patrick’s Day can be a long day, especially if you are leaving your accommodation early to get your parade spot and plan to enjoy the celebrations well into the night.
There may also be lots of walking involved so pace yourself. This goes for exercise as well as pints.
If you are trying to plan your day, you might find my itinerary for St Patrick’s Day in Dublin helpful.
Enjoy a Guinness
While you should pace yourself where the drinking is concerned, if you’ve never had a Guinness there is no better day than St Patrick’s Day to try one.
Fun fact: It is estimated that 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed in Ireland on St Patrick’s Day (ref).
While wearing silly green outfits in Ireland is generally not advised, there is one day of the year when you can go right ahead and do it.
In towns and cities across the country, people will be all shades of green, wearing anything from green coats to green jumpers and green hats.
If you don’t have anything green, you can always pin a corsage of shamrocks to your jacket or coat. These are generally sold by newsagents in the city or street vendors on St Patrick’s Day.
March is still a cold month of the year in Ireland, with average daytime temperatures of 10˚C/50F, so ensure you pack warm clothes that are also waterproof. Think late winter/early spring.
Layers are advisable so that you can add or remove them as necessary. I have a useful St Patrick’s Day packing list that details what to wear on St Patrick’s Day in Ireland for anyone who is unsure.
And remember to ensure your jacket or coat is waterproof. Rain can occur and no one wants to be wet and cold while watching the parade.
Stay for more than one day
If you are traveling all the way to Ireland for St Patrick’s Day, plan to stay in Dublin for more than just the day itself.
The city has so much to offer visitors and you can easily spend 3 days in Dublin enjoying St Patrick’s Day and exploring afterward.
And when you’ve seen all there is to see in Dublin, you can get out and explore the rest of the Emerald Isle.
Whatever you do, if you are planning to be in Ireland for St Patrick’s Day, book your accommodation, flight, and car hire early.
Outside of the busy summer months, this is one of the most popular times of the year for tourists.
Combined with the possibility of a home match for Ireland in the Six Nations Rugby Championship, visiting Ireland in March can be expensive and accommodation can become scarce quickly.
What not to do on St Patrick’s Day in Ireland
And while we are on the subject of tips for St Patrick’s Day in Ireland, you should be aware of a few things you should not do.
No leprechaun outfits
While it is fine to dress up for St Patricks Day, a full leprechaun outfit, especially the ‘sexy’ type is not advised. You may be ridiculed for wearing it.
Avoid potato jokes
Just don’t. You may find them funny but Irish people do not most of the time. And they can be quite insensitive given how many people died or emigrated during the Great Famine.
Avoid getting into political or religious discussions
Whether you are visiting Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, avoid getting into discussions about the difference between the two countries.
And avoid religious discussions. No one wants to get into an argument or pub fight over these two topics so it is best to avoid them completely.
Do not pinch anyone not in green
Now, until recently, I had never heard of this. But apparently, this is a tradition in America.
The tradition says that anyone not dressed in green should be pinched. It comes from the myth that being dressed in green makes you invisible to leprechauns.
However, I can tell you this is not a tradition in Ireland you best avoid pinching someone just because they are not dressed in green!
It’s Paddy’s, not Patty’s Day
Never, ever refer to the 17th of March as St Patty’s Day. Just don’t.
Paddy’s Day is derived from the Irish for Patrick, Pádraig, hence many native Irish refer to St Patrick’s Day as Paddy’s Day.
Patty is the shortened version of Patricia, a female name, or what you would put on a burger between two buns.
These tips for celebrating St Patrick’s Day in Dublin or anywhere in Ireland are intended to help you enjoy the day while also staying safe. If there is anything you would add for your fellow traveler, please let me know.
Cath is an Irish expat now living in Portugal. She regularly returns to Ireland to explore more of the wonderful island with her family.