It’s time to get your St. Patrick’s weekend on.

Come on… It’s hard not to be a little enamoured with St Patrick’s Day.

To begin with, who doesn’t greet a Bank Holiday joyously? Then, if you’re of a certain religious persuasion, it offers license to break Lent and eat ALL the sweets. Also: on a fundamental level, embracing the opportunity to celebrate is embedded deep within the human psyche – especially if you’re Irish.

Then there’s the sheer wonderment and delight that our small(ish) country manages to make its presence felt so strongly and globally every March 17. Aligned to these warm and fuzzy feelings is the undeniable fact that while the US claim to have invented St Patrick’s Day celebrations, Dublin has now firmly regained hold of the title of The Best St Patrick’s Day Festival In The World.

Seriously.

Whether you’re Irish, or just wish you were, the city’s festival is an unashamed crowd-pleaser with admirable breadth and swagger: creative, cultural, eclectic and electric. The St Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin is when you want the city to take a big ‘ol selfie, post all over social media and declare to the world: This is who we are.

Dip into the festival line up and you’ll find a mirror to a lot of really exciting things about Dublin in general. Not to gloss over the main events like the spectacle of the Parade or the giant outdoor céili at Earlsfort Terrace (the most fun you can ever have ar rince) but there’s little risk of them passing under the radar. It’s some of the ancillary happenings, the ones not everyone may be immediately aware are taking place, that also merit a big shout-out. Dig into the weekend-long festival programme, then dig deeper again.

The theme of this year’s festival, ‘Imagine If…’ looks to the future, to ponder who we want to be over the next 100 years. This translates into events such as The Children’s Soapbox at The Ark, Eustace Street, where children across Dublin will be given a platform to express their hopes and dreams, and Future Composers in the arty environs of The Chocolate Factory on Kings Inn Street, where a choice musical ensemble will play works by emerging Irish composers. The intimate and evocative I Love My City programme once again draws audiences deep into the city’s vivid cultural life, whether via cycling tours of the city or open-mic storytelling competitions.

And it’s not all just city centre based, either. A DART trip will see you to Howth’s Dublin Bay Prawn Festival, a rather grand day out unto itself.

How you really know you’re dealing with something special is that St. Patrick’s Festival now has its own theme tune. Legendary Dublin singer-songwriter Pete St. John, the composer of The Rare Ould Times, has written a song called March to Dublin especially for this year’s event. Due to be performed during the Festival parade by the Artane band, rest assured that it’s already a future classic.

A very happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all.

Claire is a Dublin-based journalist who contributes to a wide range of publications including The Irish Independent and Image magazine. She occasionally reviews restaurants, and loves a good crime novel.

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