Take your pick from great St Patrick’s Day celebrations around Ireland


On St Patrick’s Day all the major cities on the island of Ireland stage fantastic festivals. So why not avoid the Dublin crowds and seek one out this 17 March.


This year St Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday, so Monday 18 March 2024 will be a public holiday. Lucky you – that means festivals all around the country will stretch over a long weekend of fun, with major events typically happening over four or five days and nights!


Armagh 10–17 March

It was in Armagh, now the ecclesiastical capital of Ireland, that Patrick began his Christian mission. The city’s Home of St Patrick Festival returns in 2024 as an exciting week-long programme of music, art, theatre, film and dance, offering a chance to reflect on the legacy of St Patrick and have fun celebrating his influence on history and culture.


Look out for comedy, poetry readings, walking tours, a ‘Sunrise with St Patrick’ event and even griddle bread-making sessions at one of Armagh’s famous apple orchards, as this thrilling showcase also offers plenty of good food and drink options to sustain you.


Belfast, 10–17 March

Belfast’s St Patrick’s Day festivities are set to return with a programme that includes a reinvented parade and pageant on 17 March. The spectacle of modern-day creativity, fun and theatrics, will fill the streets with music and colour. This year’s festivities will be enhanced via the Belfast 2024 programme, an ambitious year-long cultural celebration for the city which is set to deliver many creative projects, events and civic initiatives.

Celebrations will include a Trad Trail in the run-up to the big day, and a St Patrick’s Eve concert featuring some of the island’s most exceptional musical talent. A Belfast TradFest gala concert will take place in the Ulster Hall featuring Frankie Gavin and De Dannan, one of the most influential traditional music groups of all time. Don’t forget the SPAR Craic 10k – this St Patrick’s Day urban run in Belfast is fast becoming as traditional as Irish stew.


Cork, 15–18 March

Ireland’s second city really knows how to party for the national saint. Cork St Patrick’s Festival will see live trad and folk music from The Lee Sessions, craft and design markets, and a celebration of Cork’s history with guided tours of Blackrock Castle and Cork City Gaol. Indoors and outdoors, day and night, there will be something for everyone. Cork has chosen ‘Pure Imagination’ as its parade theme for 2024, and with visiting bands from California and London, plus almost 4,000 participants, the parade will show the city at its best.


Killarney, 16–18 March

Killarney is abuzz leading up to St Patrick’s Day. Celebrating here brings you up close to the natural beauty of Ireland and Killarney’s stunning National Park. Sustainability is a watchword, with Killarney becoming the first town in Ireland to ban single-use coffee cups. At this year’s St Patrick’s Festival Killarney you can enjoy boats tours, jaunting cars, pet farms and more, plus new ticketed events such as candlelight concerts, storytelling and a duck race.


Visitors from around the world will get to enjoy many of the town’s buildings going green, and with the theme of Echoes of Killarney Past, the big parade will highlight characters, history, folklore and tales from years gone by. In a diverse and inclusive parade, groups from Germany, Italy and marching bands from the United States will be involved, and this year’s festival will also be more accessible and inclusive than ever with a dedicated staffed area specially designed for viewers with autism.


Kilkenny, 15–18 March


Creative types and trad music fans will love the medieval city of Kilkenny. Its St Patrick’s Festival Kilkenny, which takes place alongside the Kilkenny Tradfest music festival, offers a magical mix of Irish culture, history, heritage and the best live music. Expect everything from a spectacular parade, to drum dance workshops and the legendary Kilfenora Ceílí Band. There will be American marching bands, street entertainment, a funfair with a big wheel, a festival market, children’s shows, workshops and live music from the likes of the Hothouse Flowers, Clare Sands and RTÉ Folk Music Awards nominee Padraig Jack. Kilkenny’s intimate medieval streets will also be alive with a Music Trail stretching over five buzzing nights in dozens of venues around the city.


Limerick, 16–18 March

With a theme of ‘Limerick: A Different Kind of Energy’, two parades, a weekend of family fun activities and a feast of action will be at the heart of Limerick St Patrick’s Festival. The traditional St Patrick’s Day Parade will reflect how the past and present combine to generate Limerick’s unique energy. The next day, thousands will line the streets again as the spectacular sights and sounds of talented marching band musicians from across Ireland, Europe and America compete in the 52nd Limerick International Band Championship. Cheer on the bands as they march through the city and enjoy a musical jamboree.


Sligo, 17–18 March

The Sligo St Patrick’s Festival calls all Wild Atlantic Way fans, surfers and beach lovers ‘To the Waters and the Wild’. Ceol and craic (music and fun) are on the menu as the town tells the world what’s great about this west coast wonder. Together with superb floats, traditional Irish music, dance acts, and, of course, a stunning parade, there will also be a full programme of trad events around the town over the three days. The festival will make use of Queen Maeve Square, a newly completed public space development in Sligo.


This year’s event is also celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Wild Atlantic Way and embracing Sligo’s connection to it. For those looking to complement the festival with some surfing, a visit to the state-of-the-art National Surf Centre down at the seafront in Strandhill is a must.


Waterford, 15–18 March

The Waterford St Patrick’s Day Festival promises four days of live music, dance, storytelling, poetry and a headline parade. With its 2024 theme ‘Seize the Déise’ (Waterford is known locally as the Déise) Ireland’s oldest city will celebrate enjoying the moment. Home of the very first St Patrick’s Day parade back in 1903, Waterford has garnered lots of international attention in the last few months, having been named European City of Christmas 2024 and Ireland’s Cleanest City. Waterford is even featured on the New York Times and Conde Nast Traveller Magazine ‘Best Places to Go’ lists for 2024. Live music, a city centre fairground, walking tours, history tours, river cruises, free museums day – it’s all there in a city which is the perfect St Patrick’s Day blend of ancient and modern.