Ireland in March can be somewhat of a tease – we finally get out of the dreary winter months and look forward to warmer spring months ahead, but there’s still a bit of wet weather to get through. Luckily, there are plenty of fun events during this time of year, such as the famous St. Patrick’s Day, which is a blast to attend in any city in Ireland.
In addition to St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll find plenty of other events, such as art and movie festivals. This is also an ideal time of year to explore museums so you can get a break from the rain but visit them before the summer crowds come.
While I have an article on the general things to do in Ireland in spring, this post dives into everything you need to know about visiting during March in Ireland.
What to Know About Visiting March in Ireland
The turn to spring has begun, and the days start to get just a little longer. The average temperatures are up, and you can spot the extra bits of color beginning to emerge from the perpetual green.
March is very special in Ireland, at the very least for two particular occasions. Occasionally, one is Easter, which happens toward the end of the month when it does fall in March.
The other is St. Patrick’s Day, a famous tradition that involves much merriment, the celebration of being Irish, and lots and lots of whiskey and ale.
Is Ireland Worth Visiting in March?
When you begin to appreciate the many fun facts about Ireland, you understand why the country is so special to visit at any time of the year. With spring taking hold, there’s a buzz of expectation in the air.
In 2023, March will not include Easter celebrations (this takes place in April 2023). A pity, as there is a full program of events in most towns and cities over this time.
No matter. The visitors and travelers have started coming back, so accommodations and taverns will feel a little fuller. This might mean a slight bump in prices for most things, but it will still be reasonable compared to high summer.
The three main sites will also see their calendars filled with more events and attractions (see more on this below).
Ireland in March Weather
It’s still a little cold, averaging around 11°C/52°F in the hottest part of the day. It’s also still quite rainy, but that’s parred for the course in Ireland. Add to that the chilly waters, and it’s clear why swimming outdoors isn’t top of the agenda at his time.
You may get lucky with a fairly warm afternoon towards the end of the month. If it happens, it will top out at 17°C/63°F at a maximum. It will be chilly in the mornings and evenings, averaging around 0°C/32°F.
The rain will not be as regular as in February, and you can expect at least a few days here and there without heavy rain. A few days in the month usually record more than two inches of precipitation, and moderate winds are also a regular event.
Lastly, between the first day of March and the last, the daylight increases by about three hours, which gives you some idea of how rapidly the warmer weather is arriving. Be sure to make the most of those extra hours of sunlight.
What to Pack for Ireland in March
All this talk of rain and wind begs the question: What should you pack in preparation for a fabulous getaway during March in Ireland? Thankfully, there’s a handy list of things to remember, and it’s right here:
- A warm, rain-resistant waterproof jacket or two.
- Thermal or long underwear for the cold evenings. Sometimes just the upper bit may do.
- A good pair of jeans or heavy trousers.
- A warm sweater if you plan to walk anywhere (which you will).
- A strong pair of rain-resistant walking boots or shoes.
- Fleece-lined gloves for the odd cold night.
- Tights, if you plan to wear dresses.
The best advice is to plan to dress in layers. It’s cold outside, but most establishments have heating. When you enter a pub, home, or hotel, you’ll want to get down to a cardigan or light sweater and leave the coat at the door.
Tip: Need more packing advice? Take a look at this more detailed and comprehensive list of what to pack for Ireland.
Events & Places to Attend in Ireland in March
March might be considered a festival month in Ireland, and it seems like the country can’t wait to celebrate the end of winter. Here’s what to look out for and get up to in Dublin, Belfast, and Galway.
Dublin in March
Aside from the cultural and celebratory events, consider a sports game if you have a spare day. Though not specifically mentioned below, the late season of football, Gaelic games, and rugby are still in full swing and are well worth experiencing for the atmosphere. That said, here are the key festivals and events to keep an eye out for.
St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin
March 17th is a special day in Ireland, and during March in Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin is celebrated with a parade. Several streets are closed down, making for an eerie quiet early in the morning. Then the parades hit, and the people come out as the whole inner city transforms into one big party. Make sure to check out my St. Patrick’s Day packing list before heading out for the big day.
The festivities move from Parnell Square to O’Connell Street, winding its way around the town until ending close to St. Stephen’s Green.
For those who may not know, Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland, though, ironically, he was not actually Irish. He was brought to Ireland as a slave and turned to Christianity, escaping to return as a missionary eventually. It is believed he died on March 17th, 460 AD. St. Patrick is largely credited with converting many Irish people to Christianity. As the legend suggests, he probably did not introduce Christianity to the island.
Date: March 17th
Mother Tongues Festival
There are many subjects for festivals, and language seems like a noble one among those. All things that relate to linguistic diversity are celebrated at the Mother Tongues festival. By its very definition, this also means that insight into the culture, history, and people form a large part of the vision.
The festival’s mantra asks that people come with a commitment to learning something new about someone or their language. The event is partly inspired by the surprisingly large number of languages spoken in the country itself.
Dates: Yet to be confirmed, but the multi-event program often runs into March.
The Ennis Book Club Festival
Readers rejoice! Books are your favorite things, and reading is what Ennis is all about. Books are on sale, of course, but this is also an opportunity to meet emerging and established authors and attend a panel discussion focused on the genre.
One of the popular highlights is a “Ten Books You Should Read” list released every year, which usually means a big boost for the featured ones.
Dates: 3rd-5th March 2023
Belfast in March
Belfast is a city of history, especially the Irish Troubles and its violent history of protest and religious conflict. It also has a reputation for being a top-class food city, with several Michelin-star restaurants, so March in Belfast is an ideal time to visit.
The city is also a great departure point for a Causeway Coast Tour, and this will be potentially more amenable in March than in the colder December through February season. In a modern age of trade and peace, Belfast is one of the most fascinating cities to visit in Europe.
St. Patrick’s Day in Belfast
Like Dublin, Belfast has a variety of events that it hosts on or for St. Patrick’s Day. It starts on St. Patrick’s eve (March 16th) with a concert featuring some of the city’s most popular musicians.
On the 17th, about 2000 runners participate in the Spar Craic 10K road race. Even more, event-goers will attend the St Patrick’s Day Pageant Parade from Belfast City Hall later in the day. Local listings will detail more local events at various pubs, squares, and restaurants.
You can also check out the kid-friendly things to do in Belfast if you’re with family.
Date: 17th March 2023
Galway in March
The famous song “Spring Comes to Spiddal” by the Anglo-Irish band The Waterboys mentions Galway Bay as a reference point. Several descriptive images populate the song, most of which discuss the festive spirit and atmosphere of the region as “farmers gather talking, freed from winter’s yoke.”
Here are a few things to get to for a personal experience.
Depending on the scheduling, Tedfest takes place either in late February or early March each year. In 2023, Tedfast will be taking place in Ireland in March. This minimal ticket event is a celebration of all things Father Ted, a popular TV sitcom show from the 90s.
Be warned, for the uninitiated, it’s extremely weird. Attendees dress up as priests and nuns, there’s tea and biscuits on offer, and most of the talk revolves around happenings in the show.
Dates: 2nd-5th March 2023
The annual Spring Arts Festival usually takes place in mid-March and is a college-focused arts fest. Drama, dance, and other performing and visual arts get the spotlight, and most events are free. The festival is hosted at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Specific dates are yet to be confirmed at the time of writing, but you’ll want to look it up closer to your trip to visit during March in Galway.
St. Patrick’s Day in Galway
As mentioned, Galway arranges a great parade with lots of music, dance, performers, and floats. Who doesn’t love a fun parade? A local Galway pub will welcome you for a pint or two, and it’s the only way to celebrate a public holiday in Ireland.
Date: 17th March 2023
More Things To Do in Ireland in March
Beyond those three major cities, Ireland has a lot to look forward to in Ireland in general.
Originally a Gaelic festival connected to Connacht, Feis-Shligigh aims to celebrate the language and heritage of Ireland.
Interestingly, the festival used to be held over Easter Week. Due to calendar congestion, however, the festival has recently been scheduled to take place over the three consecutive weekends ahead of Easter.
During Holy Week itself, there are four days of drama and stage productions to enjoy.
Dates: Three consecutive weekends from 17th March (which also happens to be St Patrick’s Day) and through Holy (Easter) Week.
First Cut Youth Film Festival
Come and see the future of Irish film! Young filmmakers are invited to submit their film projects for feature at the First Cut Youth Film Festival each year. The festival itself is held in Youghal, Cork.
All genres are accepted, and young filmmakers, who may be college or even high school-age, get to showcase their talents. Among the viewers are industry experts and fans, and the filmmakers attend talks and workshops with the experts, too.
Dates: 11th-18th March 2023
Wander Wild Festival
If you’re in the mood for something different and more rugged, you may be interested in the Wander Wild Festival. This is designed for bushwhackers, hikers, and nature explorers.
You can swim in a lake, climb a mountain, kayak, horse ride, and much more. The entire “festival” is really an exploration of Killarney National Park and its various attractions. Trails, rivers, and tracks make up the “entertainment.”
There’s also an aspect that has to do with relaxation and mindfulness. It’s all about getting to nature and its abilities to contribute to your personal, mental and physical well-being. Whether that means working up a sweat or simply finding a peaceful corner of the park to breathe is up to you.
After, explore all the fun things to do in Dingle while you’re in the area.
Dates: 24th-26th March 2023
This is yet another festival celebrating the traditional music and fun aspect of Irish culture. This time the celebrations take place in the southeast county of Kilkenny, where famous names in the scene descend to entertain the masses.
Kanturk Arts Festival
Usually held in March, Kanturk is for fine arts lovers. Artists from all around Ireland and beyond exhibit work and host discussions around the incredible artistry on show.
Alongside the main festival are secondary exhibitions and projects, like the Schools’ Street Display. This exciting leg of the fest hosts a competition for young artists from Kanturk, Kilbrin, Lismore, Banteer, and Castlemagner’s post-primary schools.
The winning pieces in various categories are exhibited during the festival.
You’ll love visiting Ireland in March with all these things to do in the country.