Holidays Around the World: Spending St. Patrick's Day in Ireland

All around the world, St. Patrick’s Day has become a huge celebration, but nothing can compare to experiencing the holiday in the heart of Ireland. From grand festivals and parades to pub crawls and food markets, all across the country, there’s something for all travelers to enjoy.

It goes without saying that Ireland’s capital hosts the biggest party of them all. Dublin’s four-day St. Patrick’s Day Festival is a feast for the senses, with street fairs, performances, a five kilometer race, vendors, and plenty of beer. The celebration closes with their famous parade on March 17th, 2016. The parade route is two miles long and features colorful floats, dancers, and performers showcasing Ireland’s rich culture. Though the festival itself was started in 1995 by the Irish government, Dublin’s first-ever parade for the holiday dates back to 1930.

Known as the “other capital city,” Ireland’s second-largest city, Cork, is known for having equally exciting festivities as Dublin. Cork’s parade draws large crowds even though it holds the title for the shortest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world, at only 100 yards. They also have a festival with a popular food and crafts market as well as music, street performers, and pubs packed with tourists and locals alike.

For travelers who are looking to celebrate all night and all day, look no further than Dingle. The celebration kicks off early. Locals begin celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at 6:00AM when the Dingle Fife and Drum Band make their way up and down the streets as they play. With a wide array of local pubs, travelers will be able to celebrate late into the night.

For a more historic feel during St. Patrick’s Day travels, Kilkenny is the place to be. The city has always been a popular tourist destination and is noted as one of the most beautiful historic cities in all of Ireland. Embracing its historic roots, Kilkenny’s St. Patrick’s Day festival is called Tradfest, and features traditional Irish music and dance. Like Dublin’s festival, Tradfest takes place March 14th – 17th and many believe that Kilkenny’s festivities rival the excitement in the capital.

In Tullamore, they celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge, a gaelic phrase which translates to “Irish Language Week.” As the name suggests, it is an Irish language festival and noted as one of the largest celebrations of native Irish language and culture. The festival lasts for two weeks, starting on the first day of March and leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Travelers who are looking to trace their Irish roots or learn some Gaelic will want to be in Tullamore for this vibrant festival. Celebrating with traditional Irish food, music, and dance, the town hosts a parade which displays Tullamore’s culture with representatives from local dance troupes, schools, local businesses, and more. Participants in the parade compete for prizes so every year people really commit when it comes to showmanship. In the past, the parade has drawn in up to 10,000 spectators.

For a more sophisticated take on the traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration, head to Galway. In the harbor city of Galway in Western Ireland the festivities are specifically devoted to showcasing local artists around the community. Because of this, St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Gallway is filled with excellent live music and performances, as well as art on display. Perfect for art-lovers who truly want to immerse themselves in Irish culture over the holiday weekend.

So whether you’re attending Dublin’s vibrant festival or rubbing elbows with the locals in a small-town pub, there is nothing that can beat an authentic Irish St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

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