St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin isn’t just March 17. It’s a whole festival spanning five wondrous days and nights as Ireland welcomes the world to Dublin with events all over the city.
Dublin is the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day destination. Not only is it home to one of the most popular and vibrant St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world, drawing half a million revellers to its streets, but the St. Patrick’s Festival stretches on for five days and nights from March 13 - 17 in a dynamic showcase of Ireland’s culture and heritage.
The theme of the 2020 St. Patrick’s Festival is Seoda - Treasures from Ireland. From music, performance, art, spoken word, and literature, to walking tours, trails, food events, and family fun, each of the events over the course of the festival honors this theme and the St. Patrick’s Day spirit.
Here’s just a sample of what you have to look forward to. Visit stpatricksfestival.ie for tickets to your chosen events.
Musical world premieres
Some of the finest Irish musical talents will be premiering new works at the St. Patrick’s Festival. First, acclaimed traditional-meets-contemporary Irish music and dance group This is How we Fly will team up with the celebrated Irish singer Iarla Ó Lionáird on March 15 at Liberty Hall Theatre. The world premiere of this ambitious commission from Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, weaves an imaginative song cycle around County Meath’s proud literary tradition. The full line-up includes Iarla Ó Lionáird on Vocals; Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on hardanger d’amore and electronics; Seán Mac Erlaine on clarinet, wurlitzer, and electronics; the Michigan-born Nic Gareiss on percussive dance; and Petter Berndalen on percussion.
Then, on March 16 at the National Concert Hall, singer Lisa Hannigan and guests pay tribute to James Joyce with an evening celebrating his lesser-known work: his poetry. James Joyce’s Pomes Penyeach With Lisa Hannigan & Guests brings to life Joyce’s second and last book of poetry, Pomes Penyeach, which was published in 1927 and only discovered 30 years ago by Dublin based composer, curator and academic Matthew Nolan. For this production, Nolan teamed up with multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and composer Adrian Crowley to craft this astonishing performance.
Celebrating Ireland’s storytelling and song traditions
For the 2020 St. Patrick’s Day Festival, a new event series titled Abair will offer a remarkable line-up of performances celebrating Ireland’s oral traditions. Taken from the Irish word meaning both “to say” and “to sing”, Abair offers a range of intimate, unplugged performances, each highlighting the richness and beauty of the Irish singing and storytelling traditions preserved and practiced to the present day. Tour the best places in the city for singing and storytelling sessions, learn how to tell your own tale or that of your family from master storytellers, and witness some of Ireland’s greatest in conversation and song such as Thomas McCarthy, Dermot Bolger, Len Graham, Ruth Smith, and Liz Weir.
Walks and tours
Throughout the festival, there will be an abundance of unique ways to explore Dublin. Ballad Bus Tours delve into Dublin’s social history through song, led by balladeer, mummer and storyteller Seán Fitzgerald.
In the Footsteps of St. Patrick with Pat Liddy follows Dublin’s ancient history back to the Vikings and St. Patrick’s influence on the city, with hidden gems that most tourists and even many Dubliners don’t know about.
The Dublin Famine Walking Tour sheds light on some of the darkest days of Ireland’s past, An Gorta Mor, or the Great Hunger, which lasted from 1845 - 1849. While we usually think of its impact on farmers and rural inhabitants, the famine also left an indelible mark on Dublin.
Led by well-known historian and activist Tonie Walsh, Lavender Walk: Tour of Historic Gay Dublin, traces the city’s LGBT past and present, from St. Patrick’s time to today.
In collaboration with Abair, Through the City Singing Trail winds its way through Dublin’s best traditional singing clubs. Tour participants will even be invited to share a song or story of their own.
Follow the trail of poetry readings on the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Spoken Word Poetry Trail. Celebrate the breadth and diversity of contemporary poets and spoken word artists; Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Sasha Terfous, The Poet Geoff, Roxanna Nic Liam, John Cummins and Nicole Eve Rourke.
Take to the streets with Sing Out Loud, A Choral Trail in The City - an inclusive, celebratory program featuring a choral trail of older persons and inter-generational choirs, performing at some of Dublin’s iconic landmarks.
Food and fun for the whole family
For four days throughout the festival, Dublin’s Merrion Square will transform into the Festival Village, the place to be for food, live music, the festival’s Gaeltacht area, and plenty of fun for kids like circus, science, and street theater shows.
St. Patrick’s Festival and the Guinness Open Gate Brewery are joining forces to bring you a celebration of craft beer and food over three nights at Brewers Banquet Guinness Open Gate Brewery. Head Chef, Sean Hunter is teaming up with Guinness Open Gate Brewery's knowledgeable Beer Specialists to bring you on a flavorful journey, celebrating creativity and innovation. Be the first to taste a selection of experimental brews, exclusively available to The Guinness Open Gate taproom.
Step out and experience a world of culinary and historical treasures at Airfield Estate, Dundrum, just 12 minutes on the tram from Dublin City. Airfield Estate with St. Patrick’s Festival present Treasures of Irish Food – A series of delectable events celebrating the very best of Irish Food. Every piece of food presented will be grown locally and in the main at Airfield Estate. Expect fantastic hospitality from the team as they bring you the taste of Ireland on a plate.
Other St. Patrick’s Festival highlights include Marian Richardson in conversation with Deirdre O’Kane, the After Dark club series, plus music from Annie Mac, Soulé, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Crash Ensemble and Mango x MathMan as part of the 10 day avant-garde theatre, art and performance festival Where We Live, from THISISPOPBABY, and more.
St. Patrick’s Festival welcomes the world to Dublin to discover a vibrant, dynamic, contemporary Ireland, where heritage and tradition are proudly embraced. The theme of this year’s Festival is SEODA – Treasures from Ireland. Over five great days and nights, uncover Ireland’s great bounty of treasures and celebrate the wealth of Ireland’s past and the riches of its present.
The Festival journey will delve into the timeless treasures of historic Ireland and shine a light on the modern gems of the nation, through spectacle and pageantry, music and performance, art and theatre, film and literature, clubs, food, fun and community spirit.
To make the most of your Festival experience, see stpatricksfestival.ie
The National St. Patrick’s Festival, Dublin is made possible by the generous support of Fáilte Ireland - the National Tourism Development Authority, Dublin City Council, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Alongside commercial partners Tesco Ireland, Renault and long-standing partner Irish Ferries, with Hennessy as partner on selected events at Festival After Dark.