Surviving & Thriving: Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick's Day In Ireland
There’s no better day of the year in Ireland than St. Patrick’s Day. Locals and visitors come together. Green beer is enjoyed by all. It’s the party of all parties and everyone is invited. If this sounds like your cup of Guinness, we’ve got the lowdown on this unmatched holiday plus insider tips to make the most of your experience.
by Kevin McGraw
All about St. Patrick's Day
Time of year:
Ireland starts getting into the St. Paddy’s Day spirits (pun intended) for the whole month of March, but the main event takes place on March 17.
What you’re celebrating:
St. Paddy’s Day was a very religious holiday created to honor St. Patrick, who ministered Christianity in Ireland during the fifth century. Over time, churchgoers started celebrating their Irish heritage with cheeky pints of Guinness and live music on March 17. Now, it’s more widely known as a global celebration of Irish culture.
What it’s like:
Coming from Boston where we treat St. Paddy’s Day as a drinking holiday, I was prepared for the same thing in Ireland. To my surprise, it’s a very family friendly event and the city of Dublin turns into a sea of green. Both locals and Europeans flock to the city to take part in the celebrations, so it feels like you’re a part of an authentic, traditional experience.
How you celebrate:
The St. Patrick's Day parade is the main event (don’t forget to wear the colors of the Irish flag!). Think of it as the Irish version of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but many of the floats represent Irish folklore. Pro tip: the folklore stories are amazing and mystical so make sure to ask the locals what they mean. More importantly, be prepared for large crowds of people traveling to O’Connell Street early in the morning…and then flocking to the Temple Bar district to continue the celebration. (Speaking of, this list of our favorite historic Irish pubs could come in handy.)
Why it’s awesome:
Pints of Guinness, Irish step dancing, singing songs you don’t understand, and cheering “sláinte” to happily partying strangers all day—what’s not to like?!
Who should go?
If you have Irish heritage or just love Guinness and Irish accents, then this trip is for you. And if you're a first-timer visiting Ireland, it's an especially unique way to soak up the culture and tradition that makes this country so amazing. Best part is, on our St. Paddy's Day trip, you'll get to see and do so much more beyond the celebrations in Dublin. You'll explore Ireland's most scenic attractions, check out the seaside city of Galway and its lively Quay Street downtown area, or even get some outdoor adventure while hiking Ireland's tallest peaks.
1. Eat all the carbs. Then eat more.
The only way to get through a full day of partying with the Irish is eating like the Irish. Scarf down a traditional Irish breakfast, usually consisting of meat (bacon, sausages and black and white puddings), eggs, vegetables and potato, not to mention a generous helping of homemade brown bread. Your 3pm self will thank you.
2. Dress like a leprechaun.
Why? Because you're in Ireland and it's a fun costume to wear. At the very least wear green. Because while dressing like a leprechaun isn't exactly "traditional" in Ireland, wearing green is. And not abiding by this rule is a classic mistake. Feel free to add some white and orange into the mix, but green is the most important color. Paint your face, your toenails, and your entire body if you want. The more ridiculous, the better.
3. The early bird gets the best spot for the parade.
One of the highlights of the day is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, with plenty of music, people, and good ol' camaraderie. It’s pretty much the reason you go to Ireland on March 17th. And while the parade might not start until noon, all the good spots will be taken by 9 or 10am.
4. Lost and found.
Believe it or not, you won’t be the only one in Ireland for St. Paddy’s Day. There will be crowds. Big ones. Find a buddy to stick with at all times, and set a meeting point with your group in case you split up.
5. Three words: Pace. Yo’. Self.
Remember—this is a marathon, not a sprint. The Guinness will be flowing all day and night, so there’s no need to start too early. Drink plenty of water, continue to eat food throughout the day, and you’ll cross the finish line with flying colors (green, orange, and white of course).
6. Be Irish.
Not literally—unless you’re actually Irish. But St. Patrick’s Day is a day to embrace the Irish way of life. Dance like the locals, sing with the locals, and don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself. Go all in. YOSPDIIO (You only St. Paddy’s Day in Ireland once).
by Kevin McGraw
Kevin is a copywriter at EF Ultimate Break. He loves drinking chocolate milk, looking at photos of his parents’ dog, and, for some reason, running for hours at a time. His favorite place in the world is Mürren, Switzerland.