In Dublin you can find The Craic, Irish for having a good time, any day. Sometimes it is nice to have an occasion, however, and Dubliners have created more than a dozen annual events to have an excuse for a party. From quirky Dublin traditions like the swim in the River Liffey to big, branded events, Dublin has a busy calendar of annual fixtures. In the summer months between May and September, Dubliners and visitors alike are particularly spoiled for choice. Thanks to Dublin's mild winters, the events season lasts well until November.
Dublin International Film Festival
Dublin attracts 40,000 film buffs every February, turning itself into a hotspot of the international cinema. Actors, directors and fans from all over the world gather in Dublin for the two weeks of the festival, attending premieres and viewings of more than a 100 movies. The Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (JDIFF) mixes works by independent film makers from around the globe with releases from the mainstream Hollywood studios for a programme that satisfies arthouse tastes and family demands alike.
St. Patrick's Day Parade And Festival
16-20th March 2011
New York might have the bigger St. Patrick's Day Parade, but Dublin has turned the one day event into a week-long festival! The city's public places are largely given over to a week of open air events warming Dubliners up for the Big Day, celebrating Ireland's patron saint. The parade on the 17th - St. Patrick's Day - turns the entire city centre into one heaving throng of green-white-and-orange clad revellers. The parade itself is a merry mix of floats, bands and dancers. Only in Dublin could you get a parade that features the mayor's gilded coach followed by Dublin's biker clubs on their Harleys and Goldwings. It attracts an increasing number of dancers, pageants and bands from abroad every year, expect to see groups from the US, Italy and Germany this year. One particularly freezing St Patrick's Day the parade even featured a severely underdressed Samba school from Brazil. That's the spirit! Make sure you wear something green and have the Full Irish breakfast before you go - bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, eggs, mushrooms, beans, the lot. It is a long day and food does not traditionally come into it. You will be thankful for your breakfast later in the afternoon.
Heineken Green Energy Festival
Dublin's biggest Rock and Pop festival has been shaking the foundations of Dublin Castle since 1996. Some 50,000 music fans flock to the open air festival which is traditionally held on May Bank Holiday weekend. International headliners this year include Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Soulwax and The Kooks. This being Dublin, the festival spills over into various bars in the city centre, with DJs keeping the spirits of the revellers high long after the show is over.
Docklands Maritime Festival
Tall ships line the quays of Dublin on both sides of the River Liffey while traders hawk crafts and exotic snacks on the quays. Street theatre and open air concerts vie for attention with the sailing ships, many of which are open to the public. If the sun shines, seek refuge on deck of a 19th century clipper with a refreshment from the board bar and watch the colourful crowds milling along the quays. This is a busy event, even by Dublin standards - Some 70,000 visitors came to the Maritime Festival last year.
Flora Women's Mini Marathon
3rd Jun 2011
Dublin's Mini Marathon is one of the World's largest all-women sporting events. It was launched in 1983 and has become a firm institution with some 40,000 runners participating. The 10km course leads through Dublin's green Southside. Just like the full-length Dublin Marathon in October, the Mini Marathon has become a bit of a street party with spectators cheering the participants on.
11- 16th June 2011
A Fancy dress party with a Dublin twist. Fans of Dublin-born author James Joyce dressing up in early 20th century clothes and touring places visited by Joyce's hero Leopold Bloom in the novel 'Ulysses'. In the book, Joyce describes the minute detail of an average day in the life of an average Dubliner. The day is 16th June 1904 and middle-aged advertising salesman Bloom starts frying up his breakfast. Bloomsday appropriately starts with a big public breakfast fry-up. Needless to say, that a visit to the pub forms part of Bloomsday.
AIB Street Performance World Championship
16-19st June 2011
Acrobats, jugglers, buskers and street performers flock to Dublin's green and leafy Merrion Square to battle it out for the title of World Champion Street Performer. The free festival is taking place over four days during which Dublin is turned into the World capital of street performance. Expect contenders for the title to pop up in pedestrian zones and public places across town to practice their skills and build a loyal following.
Dublin Pride Festival
17-26th June 2011
The Dublin Pride Festival is a week-long celebration of gay culture including sports days and club events. The festival's high point is the traditional Pride Day Parade, which was first established in 2003. This year's parade marks the 30th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York. With an estimated 5,000 participants joining the parade, it is a noisy, colourful street carnival complete with floats and pageants that moves through the city centre.
Carlsberg Comedy Carnival
The Iveagh Gardens
Dubliners like a good joke. They also like to heckle comedians who tell a bad joke. The Carlsberg Comedy Carnival features local and international stand-up comedians working hard in front of a demanding audience. A good spot to see some Irish talent like Des Bishop, Ardal O'Hanlon, Hector and more. Sneak in, watch and enjoy the banter.
Movies on the Square
July - August
For a few weeks every year, Meeting House Square at the heart of Temple Bar turns into a free open air cinema. If you thought this pub and amusement quarter cannot possibly become any more crowded and buzzing at night, come again. The selection of films is quite wide to suit all tastes, but never boring.
Dublin Horse Show
3-7th August 2011
One of the main equestrian events globally, the Dublin Horse Show on the grounds of the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) features show jumping and various races with Irish and international entrants competing for big cash prizes and the prestigious Agha Khan Trophy. Horses aside, the show is a well-dressed society event with a party atmosphere. The Ladies make an effort to look glam - There is a €10,000 prize for the best-dressed female visitor. The Gents brush up nicely, too.
5th September (tbc)
The River Liffey runs through the centre of Dublin. It does not look like an inviting spot for a swim by anybody's standards. But once a year, more than 200 swimmers brave the waters on the first Saturday of September. The race starts at the Civic Offices and finishes at Custom House. The first Liffey Swim took place in 1920. Even though the river is arguably cleaner today than in the 1920, Swimmers still get into the Liffey at high tide; legend has it that there are fewer pollutants in the water then. Thousands line the quays on the day to watch the spectacle and shout encouragement to the swimmers.
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final
A uniquely Irish sport, Hurling is a bit like playing Hockey without the ball hitting the ground. Two teams of 15 players try to whack a Hockey ball sized leather ball (the Sliothar, pronounce 'slither') with curved wooden sticks (the Hurley) into the opponents' goal. The All-Ireland Final, played at Croke Park Stadium, is the most anticipated game of the year in any Gaelic sport. Dubliners are not big into Hurling, it is more of a country thing and grows in popularity the further South you get in Ireland. Watch the city being taken over by coachloads of mainly rural supporters, 'culchies' in Dublin parlance, who turn all approaches to Croke Park into a street carnival.
Dublin Fringe Festival
10-25th September 2011
The Fringe Festival offers live music, performance theatre, dance and mixed-media happenings. The festival focuses on artists from around the world who transcend the boundaries between different art forms. The organisers put a lot of quality control into the selection of performers, so the quality is generally quite high and makes The Fringe a great place to discover emerging artists.
31 October 2011
The 42.2km run through Dublin's Georgian streets is known around the World as 'The Friendly Marathon'. Started 1980, Dublin Marathon is a public street party that attracts 10,000 runners and several times that number in spectators. People lining the streets encourage the runners, crack jokes and generally turn this sporting event into a party.
Temple Bar Chocolate Festival
Dubliners have a notoriously sweet tooth. They also have a soft spot for artisan products. Handmade, speciality chocolates tick both boxes. There is an ever increasing number of local chocolatiers that can fill a square in Temple Bar and hold a dedicated chocolate market to exhibit their sweet temptations. This is heaven on earth for chocoholics.
Christmas in Dublin
During the Christmas season, Dublin takes on extra sparkle, particularly after dark when the city's thousands of Christmas lights are switched on and carol singers line the main shopping streets. Restaurants will be packed with Dubliners getting into the Christmas spirit and Pubs will be roaring with festive cheer, particularly in the city centre. Some cities may go crazy on New Years Eve, but you have to experience Christmas Eve in Dublin. It's the culmination of three weeks of pre-Christmas celebration.