What's St Patrick's Day without a parade? In Galway, the city’s theatrical heritage always guarantees a fantastic parade and street performances, like those by the Macnas theatre group, which will be marching with their giant puppetry creations and youth drummers. The parade will kick off a four-day celebration across the city, with family entertainment, vintage amusements and an outdoor craft village.
The first St Patrick’s Day parade ever held in Ireland was in Waterford back in 1903 and this year the event will kick off its St Patrick’s Day Festival, which will run from 17 to 19 March. In Kerry, the theme for this year’s St Patrick’s Festival in Killarney is "Killarney Experience More," so you can expect to see flashes of Killarney culture alongside the colourful green floats.
In medieval Kilkenny, the St Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny runs from 15 to 19 March and will include acrobatic performances, street food and a vintage carousel alongside the centrepiece parade. Bang on the community drum of Fuinneamh, a 14-foot drum that can be played by a crowd.
Alongside the St Patrick’s Day festivities, the concurrent Kilkenny Tradfest brings free trad gigs, live sessions and folk music in several venues around the city, including trad pubs and the Watergate Theatre.
The streets of Sligo will turn into a sea of floats and performers for their Sligo St Patrick's Festival parade on 17 March. That evening, the Hawk’s Well Theatre will host "Mind Full," a unique stress-busting show about meditation and mindfulness from Today FM star and comedian Dermot Whelan. Out on the coast, the Strandhill People’s Market will be open on 19 March with local food producers selling everything from tacos to artisan sourdough, all from Hangar One in Sligo Airport.
There’s a jam-packed schedule of events in Cork, from the main parade on St Patrick’s Day to a flurry of activities all over the city from 16 to 19 March. Take a guided tour of Blackrock Castle Observatory or head to Nano Nagle Place and browse work from Irish designers. Little one can follow the Saint and Shamrocks Trail all weekend or create something to take home at the crafts workshop at Crawford Art Gallery on 17 March. Trad sessions will be on all festival long at pubs around the city.
Down in West Cork, you can celebrate in style at the Bantry Goes Green festival with marching bands, floats and live music.
For the devout (and those who love climbing hills), climbing Croagh Patrick is a St Patrick’s Day rite of passage. Every year, hundreds of people climb Westport’s holy mountain, where St Patrick is said to have fasted at the summit for 40 days. It’s a challenging climb but the views from the top are spectacular, with all of Clew Bay spread out before you.
If you don’t want to climb all the way to the top, you can hike to the first viewpoint to get a sampling of the scenery and the smattering of tiny islands in the bay.
The country will be on tenterhooks on 18 March, when Ireland plays England in their final match of the Six Nations rugby championship. The game will take place in the Aviva Stadium but will be on many a television screen all over the country. Get into the match-day spirit by watching with other rugby fans in one of Ireland’s cosiest pubs or one of Dublin's best rugby pubs.
There’s plenty taking place in Limerick over the long weekend. With this year's "Discover Limerick" theme at the St Patrick's Festival Limerick, the parade is set to be a celebration of all things Limerick culture and heritage. Stop by Ireland's biggest antiques fair over the weekend or get your running shoes on for the St Patrick's Day Riverside Run. On Sunday, the Limerick International Band Championship will see marching bands from all over the world take to the streets in the hopes of winning the big title.
As well as the parade in Wexford town, there's plenty of ways get into the St Patrick’s Day spirit throughout the county. Down at Hook Lighthouse, there’s a green theme in the café and a day of activities to enjoy on the peninsula. If your name is Patrick, Pat, Paddy or Patricia, you can even get a free tour of the lighthouse. There will also be snake hunts on the lighthouse lawns in the afternoon.
Fancy getting active on the Bank Holiday weekend? The Mullingar Half Marathon is taking place on 17 March, with a 21km route on flat but beautiful terrain. You’ll start in the town centre before taking in the nearby countryside, weaving along the Royal Canal and then back into Mullingar Town Park. There’s also a 5km run, if you’re not quite up for the full 21km.
This particularly special parade links not only two towns, but two counties. The parade route connects the twin towns of Ballina in Co Clare and Killaloe in Co Tipperary, crossing the Killaloe Bridge over the River Shannon at the mouth of Lough Derg. There are prizes awarded on the day for the best floats, with plenty of local businesses and clubs getting into the creative spirit. After the parade, be sure to take the time to wander around both towns, where local homes and shops go to town with their patriotic decorations in the hopes of winning the prize of Best Dressed Window.
Ireland is no stranger to celebration throughout the year — check out what's on now.