In Dublin, possibly the ultimate party town around Temple Bar, hundreds of events are scheduled over the five fabulous days and nights of the festival.
The third-largest St. Patrick's Day parade, behind New York City and Chicago, Dublin's parade is a sight to behold. Failte Ireland shares this year's theme is SEODA – Treasures from Ireland. Last year was Story Telling. Always something to stimulate your senses.
Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Tom Brabazon said, "We have so many modern-day treasures, people creating our contemporary culture each day and it's fantastic that the Festival will showcase these across five days and nights of fun and celebration. I have no doubt that Dubliners and visitors to the city will enjoy memorable experiences and leave with lasting memories."
The celebration stretches from Friday March 13 to Tuesday March 17, festivities planned throughout the weekend. Irish musicians share traditional singing and storytelling. Over 500,000 people line the parade route
The parade starts at Parnell Square, in Dublin 1, north of the River Liffey, moves down O'Connell Street, crosses the O'Connell Bridge and continues down Westmoreland Street. The route turns down Dame Street, then Nicolas and Patrick Streets, follows Kevin Street and ends at Wexford, just before St. Stephen's Green.
Did you know there are seven times more people of Irish descent in the United States and Canada than in Ireland? At only 6 million, they love that we remain faithful to our homeland.
As Failte Ireland reports, "St. Patrick's Festival 2020 will feature a host of fun-filled family experiences, large-scale outdoor events, newly commissioned collaborative performances, a myriad of musical treats including two World Premieres, as well as the magnificent national St. Patrick's Festival Parade and an expanded four-day Festival Village and Food Market at Merrion Square."
Irish and international artists confirmed for the 2020 programme, according to Failte Ireland, include Canadian electro artist Jessy Lanza's show at Lost Lane on March 13th opening the Festival After Dark series. Or hear Welsh Gruff Rhys, the Super Furry Animals' frontman, perform at Christchurch Cathedral.
Talks and discussions feature Brendan Balfe, Dave Fanning, Marian Richardson, and Deirdre O'Kane. Traditional performers and storytellers include Macdara Yeates, Landless, Doireann Glackin, Rosie Sterwart, Liz Weir, Steo Wall, Eddie Lenihan, and Dermot Bolger.
Orla Carroll of Failte Ireland said, "We are delighted to see some of Ireland's national treasures highlighted at this year's St. Patrick's Festival."
On March 14, the BBC Radio 2 Folk award-winning Northern Irish-English alt-folk duo The Breath bring their sounds to the Pepper Canister Church along with Scottish piper Brighde Chaimbeul and fiddler Aidan O'Rourke.
Already sold out, Denise Chaila, Kojaque, Soule, and Annie Mac perform at the Guinness Storehouse on March 14th. Don't miss the Dublin panorama from the Gravity Bar on the top floor. Go at a different time. The windows provide pre-printed locations so, if you're new to town, you'll know what you're looking at.
On March 15th, at Liberty Hall Theatre, This is How We Fly performs with special guest Iarla O Lionaird. Or check out Mount Alaska's electronic sounds at the Pepper Canister Church.
March 16th, you'll have your pick of Colm Mac Con Iomaire performing The River Holds Its Breath at Vicar Street or The National Concert Hall's World Premiere of James Joyce's Pomes Penyeach, his final book of poetry, "a collection of 12 poems and a tilly – making it a baker's dozen – sold for a schilling (12 pennies) so the poems were a penny each. Pomes is a pun for pommes (French for apples) based on Joyce's desire to have the cover be the color of his favorite apple, the Calville." The poems, written from 1912 to 1924, are interpreted by Matthew Nolan and songwriter/ composer Adrian Crowley featuring vocalist Lisa Hannigan.
Both March 16th and 17th, the Dublin Gospel Choir sings to the rafters at Pepper Canister with special guests.
There's even more to do besides the parade.
Art Tea at the Merrion Hotel. Spa day at The Shelbourne Hotel. Paddy's Day Leprechaun Hunt. ABAIR. Hidden Dublin ours and trails. Port to City Treasure Hunt. Ceili Mor. The 5K St. Paddy's Day Run. Irish Record Fairs and Irish Myths & Legends. Or just walk along Grafton Street appreciating the street performers. Enjoying the parade from a number of locations.
Especially since everyone should be Irish on St. Patrick's Day. Filled with brotherhood and humor, fun and frivolity. Take a group of friends.
You can watch the parade from the beginning, in Dublin 1 by Parnell Square, or cross the River Liffey and watch in Dublin 2 by College Green and Temple Bar. Both are crowded and jolly.
Pro Tip: It's worth it to pay the money for the bleacher seats in Dublin 1. It's covered and protects your photos as well as reducing the wind shear, notable on a nippy day. They have entire party planning packages that really are a good return on your investment if you like to enjoy a parade in relative comfort instead of fighting an 8-deep crowd.
Smokers abound in Dublin. It's really a challenge if you're a former smoker, avid non-smoker, or trying to quit. Being in the bleachers reduces your risks of a face full of smoke, but it's no guarantee. Just be mindful of it.
To get out of the melee, schedule time at the Spa at the Shelbourne Hotel. Located on St. Stephen's Green, you have the opportunity to work out in their cardio or weight rooms or swimming pool prior to a massage. Just before and for up to two hours after massage, you have access to the Serenity Room which looks out over the square, just past Wexford Street where the parade ends. Lounge with your choice of 19 specialty teas, a cone of walnuts, raisins and banana chips, and a snack plate of cranberry juice, ice cream and berries.
Or make a reservation for the Five Star Merrion Hotel's Art Tea, an elegant three-course high tea with black, white, green, and fruit teas to choose from. The chef's final contribution to your gastronomic delights are three desserts designed to reproduce artwork housed within the hotel, the largest non-museum art collection in any hotel in the world.
This year's festivities include a return of the World Food Village at Merrion Square. Say hello to Oscar Wilde's bejeweled statue or visit the war memorial in the square as you feast on the offerings.
At dusk, be sure to go back out to the River Liffey and watch buildings get lit up bright green, an effect similar to Grand Place at Christmas. The warm glow casts you into the night options, sightseeing, laughter at the comedy clubs, cultural events and exhibitions.
Pro Tip: Getting around. The public transportation is excellent in Dublin. The easiest, fastest, and least expensive way to get from the airport to center city is the bus. The LUAS (tram) will have abbreviated service during the parade. You'll find the easiest way to get around during the parade is on foot. Otherwise, train, tram, bus and bike remain available. There is no Lyft or Uber in Dublin. Download the my taxi app, now called "Free Now" before you leave home.
Parade Grandstand Seating and Lunch Packages offering bleacher "tiered" seating along the Parade route with a post Parade lunch at the Westin Hotel are on sale now at the St. Patrick's Festival website www.stpatricksfestival.ie
Go. See and be seen. Enjoy the festivities. Make memories. Be Irish on more than just St. Patrick's Day and discover Dublin anew.