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When they say that the streets turn green over Saint Patrick’s Day, they aren’t kidding. Dublin transforms for the weekend into an exciting realm of Irish culture as travelers from all corners of the world come together to celebrate. Complete with Guinness, pub food, and rugby, Saint Patrick’s Day is definitely one to remember.
I spent the weekend of the festival with an exciting tour group. The group was so diverse, with people visiting from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. Our hostel was filled with even more groups, allowing us to meet many different people and have an interesting mix of stories and cultures.
Saint Patrick’s Day festivities are not for the weak at heart. Massive crowds shove into small roads and fill the pubs for their own shot at the fun. Music echoes throughout the city and bartenders are busy pouring pint after pint of beer. The Irish flag waves high above storefronts and buildings, and fountains are illuminated in neon green lights by night. Although the weather was quite chilly and windy, people didn’t hesitate to continue on with their adventures.
One of the most popular spots to visit is the famous Guinness Storehouse. Serving as the international hub for Guinness production, the storehouse stands as a symbol of Dublin and the Irish culture. Beer lovers from all corners of the world come to the Storehouse to learn just how the dark brew is perfected. The Storehouse has an interactive experience where you can see the specific process in which the beer is made, and you even have the chance to try one of their brews during a free tasting.
As Paddy’s weekend is the busiest weekend to visit, the Storehouse also fills with additional festivities. A marching band paraded through the ground floor, with its brass music reverberating up through the seven floors of specialty. Within the packed beer tasting room, drummers and traditional Irish dancers performed on stage before the free tasting took place. A DJ also filled the room with her upbeat tunes as hundreds of people tasted the authentic Guinness brand. The Storehouse was an exciting place to be as Saint Patrick’s Day quickly approached.
As our group walked along the routes of the city’s most well-known spots, the streets became noticeably more busy throughout the weekend. Monuments were surrounded by tourists snapping photos and the bridges became a process of single-file walking to get across. Souvenir shops began selling out of their green attire and accessories the closer it got to Saturday. Street vendors and markets lined squares as hungry visitors stopped for a quick bite. Even the McDonald’s was filled with different languages and groups enjoying the annual Shamrock Shake dessert.
Drinking is obviously one of the biggest aspects of Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. Pubs are open until the early hours of the morning, and stores stock extra bottles of alcohol for their celebrating customers. However, Dublin can’t legally begin selling alcohol on the Saturday until afternoon, and many stores even wait until after 4 PM to open their booze sales. This adds a strategic aspect to the holiday. Many people purchase their drink of choice ahead of time so they can enjoy it throughout the day before they can purchase more. Although consumption on the streets is also illegal, many find ways to sneakily consume it at their own discretion.
Rugby was another large part of the Paddy’s day experience. The match was between Ireland and England, with the title of 6 Nations champions on the line. A pub near our hostel boasted large cinema screens to show the game on, so we headed there to join in the fun. People squeezed together throughout the multiple rooms to watch on numerous screens. Cheers erupted within the walls of the pub anytime Ireland scored, and the occasional sounds of discontent when England made a good play followed. Ireland fought through and captured the win with a score of 24-15, giving the Irish yet another reason to celebrate the weekend.
As the crowds sport their green late into the night, traditions continued on. After the parade completed its 2 mile long course, people flocked to pubs and restaurants to begin their day of official partying. Guinness was consumed by the millions of pints, and music continued for hours. The historic Temple Bar district of Dublin was upbeat and exciting even in the late hours. It was a time for everyone to enjoy good company and even better memories.
As the pubs ran dry and closed for the night, the hundreds of thousands of partiers headed back to their accommodations to settle in. The next morning, many people were obviously sluggish, and the streets were much quieter. Remnants of green outfits dotted the streets as snow floated down over a new day. Luckily, the coldest weather waited until the massive festival was completed.
Saint Patrick’s Day 2018 will forever stay in my mind as one of the most exciting days I have experienced in my mere 19 years of life. I have never seen so many people in matching shades of green and just enjoying life together. I’d love to find myself back in Dublin for the festival again. Nothing will compare to the massive party of Irish culture and history. Sláinte!