On the third weekend in March Dublin will come alive not only for the riotous celebration of Ireland’s patron saint, but also the final fixture of the Six Nations as England visit the Aviva Stadium. If ever there was a time to visit the Fair City, this is it. Here’s your guide to making the most of this monumental weekend.
Get things started
First things first – you’ve got to get there. This year St Patrick’s falls on Friday, so if you’re keen to get the most from the weekend, brave the early start, and you’ll be in Dublin in time for breakfast. Browse our timetable for the full schedule of flights from the City to Dublin. Whenever you land, just make sure you’re in town in time for the start of the St Patrick’s Festival Parade at midday. This spectacular celebration of all things Irish is the centrepiece of the festivities and starts in Parnell Square before heading around the city centre in a riot of colour, music and dancing.
See St Patrick’s out
Most travellers will head straight to Temple Bar. There’s no denying that it is the beating heart of Dublin’s party culture, but its bars can be touristy. The Porterhouse microbrewery has a sprawling pub here and another in central Dublin and can be a good option for watching the rugby. The Long Hall in South Great George’s Street is a more traditional Irish institution.
What to do before the rugby
The game starts at 1700 so you’ve got time to squeeze in some sightseeing before you head to the Aviva or bag yourself a spot in a pub to watch the game. Have a look at our guide to 24 hours in Dublin for a rundown of all the major attractions in Dublin.
If it’s sport all the way for you, then consider a tour of the city’s larger stadium, Croke Park – the home of Gaelic games is one of the largest sports stadiums in Europe and has a long history in Irish sport.
It’s as good as obligatory to visit the Guinness Storehouse on any trip to Dublin, and if you’re still thirsty after the best pint of the black stuff you’ll ever drink then the Jameson Distillery is reopening after refurbishment just in time for St Patrick’s Day.
Where to watch the game
Whether or not you have a ticket for the match it will be well worth the trip to watch this momentous clash in its host city. On present form, it’s possible that the championship will be in the balance by the time Saturday 18 comes around, and Dublin will be buzzing. There’s no shortage of pubs where you can watch the game, but the Old Stand in the heart of the city is conveniently located and has a particularly strong link with the game, promising a charged atmosphere where you can watch the game alongside diehard fans. Only a little further south in the city centre, Sinnotts has 14 screens and is roomy enough to grab a decent spot – wherever you go, get there early.
Where to celebrate (or commiserate)
Whatever the result, a night at the dogs at Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium is a great way to either celebrate or lift your spirits – it’s only one stop on the DART from the Aviva Stadium or a short walk and makes a good option if you have a ticket for the game. Check out our guide to getting around Dublin for everything you need to know about transport.
If you don’t fancy a flutter but want to carry on the party then head to the area south of Temple Bar between Grafton Street and South Great George Street, or for some traditional Irish revelry head to O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row.
End the weekend with a bang
Clear away a hangover or just see some more of the city and head to Mansion House to run the Festival 5k Road Race on the Sunday. Entry is open until 18 March. Of course, if that’s too energetic then you can just watch; 2,000 participants racing through the streets of central Dublin makes quite a spectacle – expect to see plenty of green tutus and leprechaun outfits before you return home.