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A guide to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland

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    March 2010: People wearing shamrock glasses at the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland.AP

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    March 2010: Dancers at St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin, Ireland.AP

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    March 2011: An girl with her face painted with the Irish flag is pictured during St Patricks Day festivities in Dublin, Ireland.AP

On March 17th, in cities and towns throughout of the world, people raise a toast to St. Patrick and celebrate their own connections to the Emerald Isle. Of course, nowhere is St Patrick’s Day celebrated in a more grandiose and spectacular fashion than in Ireland’s capital city of Dublin. With scores of events spanning several days, Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival offers boundless opportunities for visitors to explore all that it means to be Irish, and partake in some of the nation’s most famous traditions. Here’s a guide to help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish style.

St. Patrick’s Eve

The first thing you’ll need to learn is that St Patrick’s Day festivities in Dublin aren’t strictly limited to March 17th. Beginning on St Patrick’s Eve, some of the festival’s most interesting and unique events take place across the city and stretch over several days. One of the best ways to begin your St. Patrick’s Day celebration is on a walking tour of the city to discover the history and traditions behind the country’s most famous holiday. On St Patrick’s Eve, the huge outdoor ceili gives revelers a chance to try their hand at some traditional Irish dancing, accompanied by lively sets from notable Irish folk musicians. In the evening, culture vultures might consider taking in an Irish play at one of the city’s historical theaters.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration kicks off in earnest at midday with the annual parade. Considered by many as the centerpiece of the festival, the parade’s wide array of colorful floats, lively performers and unusual oddities are sure to dazzle onlookers as they bisect the city from Parnell Square in the North to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the south. Be sure to save a spot early in the day to get the best views, though with hundreds of musicians and street performers, and an infectious energy throughout the city, you’re sure to have a memorable afternoon, even from the very back row. Once the parade disbands, it’s time to hit the streets and explore one the city’s most important meeting places – the pub.

Irish Pub Crawl

The city’s legendary pub scene certainly doesn’t disappoint on St Patrick’s Day. With live traditional Irish music and no shortage of pubs, the vibrant atmosphere in Dublin’s main tourism hub, Temple Bar, can be an unforgettable experience. However, the noise, chaos and raucousness of the area can be slightly overwhelming for the novice St. Patrick’s Day celebrator. Instead, you might consider embarking on a pub crawl through some of the city’s most famous watering holes.

Just a short walk from Temple Bar square is Grogan’s Castle Lounge, where the décor has changed little since the days when famous figures of Irish literature and culture graced its doors decades ago. For a more novel experience, try elbowing your way into the city’s smallest pub, the Dawson Lounge, where locals and visitors alike sip some of the city’s best Guinness in a space roughly the same size as a small studio apartment. For the avid beer connoisseur looking for a bit more variety, try out a sampling platter of some exquisite microbrews at the Porterhouse Central just down the street.