When is the best time to go to Dublin?

Dublin may not take up much space on the map, but don’t let that fool you – this gem of a capital has no “off” switch and is brimming with history, culture and a whole lot of personality that is on display twelve months of the year. There’s an old Irish adage that says “if you don’t like the season, just wait fifteen minutes”. Dublin is a city for all seasons, only those seasons will often present themselves in the one day. 

Most visitors arrive during the warmer summer months, when Dublin events calendar is at its fullest and there’s hardly a moment when there isn’t something on. When the skies turn grey and the temperatures start to dip, that’s a Dubliner’s cue to dive into the city’s rich cultural scene with its array of museums, festivals and theatres – and although there’s a thinner menu of outdoor events, come equipped for the colder weather.

Planning a trip? Here’s a guide to what you can expect whenever you visit so you can hit the ground running.

A mixed group of revelers including adults and children dressed in rainbow colors celebrate Pride Festival in Dublin in June, flying flags and blowing bubbles
Dublin marks Pride with family-friendly events © jenniferdurann / Shutterstock

Summer months of June to August deliver the best weather

The summer is busiest with visitors looking to take advantage of the good weather. Temperatures average between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius (60–68 ºF) and the sun often makes an appearance, but this is Dublin not Dubai so clouds and rain are never that far away.

Summer is also when accommodation is toughest to find and room rates are at their highest: if you are visiting during these months it is strongly advised to book well in advance to avoid disappointment or paying through the nose for a room. 

There is plenty to do throughout the Dublin summer, and Dubliners eagerly fill out their festival calendars. There’s big music gatherings like Forbidden Fruit and Longitude; the annual Pride celebrations take up a week in June; and they come after the most Dublin of Dublin events, Bloomsday, when the most dedicated Joyceans go all Edwardian for a day on June 16. Another uniquely Dublin event is the Liffey Swim, which sees 500 lunatics swim 2.2km along the Liffey – you can join them if you want (or just go to the National Gallery to see Jack B Yeats’ famous painting of it).

Meanwhile, the international horsey set trot down to the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) for the social highlight of the year, the Dublin Horse Show. The show is a long-established institution in the city: one part genteel garden party, one part agricultural show, the highlight of the five-day long festival is the Aga Khan Trophy, an international-class competition packed with often heart-stopping excitement in which eight nations participate.

Group of people in costumes Ireland in the Republic of Ireland passing a Dublin pub on St. Patrick's Day
Visit Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day and witness a city celebrating © Westbury / Getty Images

March to May is when Dublin starts to celebrate

Dublin unofficially leaves winter behind around the middle of March when St Patrick’s Festival takes over for a few days around March 17. Half a million people turn out to see the parade on March 17 and enjoy the festivities, which can leave the city looking the worse for wear when the music ends and the beer stops flowing. Outside of St Paddy’s Day and Easter, though, accommodation rates can be pretty enticing and the city hasn’t yet welcomed the summer crowds.

The biggest event in April is the Grand National, the showcase of the national hunt season that that takes place at Fairyhouse in County Meath, 25km northwest of the city centre, on Easter Monday. Despite the name, the only thing they hunt is the winner’s garland. Meanwhile, the Five Lamps Festival celebrates the creativity of the north inner city over nine days. In May, Dublin warms up for the summer with the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival and the International Literature Festival Dublin.

September to October are best for good weather and fewer crowds

The high season officially ends in September: kids are back at school, crowds are thinning out and accommodation rates start to come down. It’s an easier time to find a room at a decent rate, especially if you book in advance.

September and October can surprise you with some excellent weather – it’s not at all uncommon for the city to enjoy a late burst of summer. Which means you can combine some indoor pursuits with some outdoor excursions. How about a day trip to Glendalough (blissfully free of big crowds now that the kids are all back in school) followed by a performance at one of Dublin’s theatre festivals, the Fringe in September followed hot on its heels by the Dublin Theatre Festival in October?

A dark, book-lined university room.
Winter is a great time for indoors cultural sites like Trinity College Library’s Long Room © Andrew Montgomery / Lonely Planet

November to February is best for getting cozy and cultural

Dublin winters are damp, dreary and cold – which gives you three good reasons to find a nice snug in a traditional pub. There’s plenty of options throughout the city – 800 of them, in fact – but you won’t go too wrong in the likes of Kehoe’s just off Grafton Street or The Long Hall on South Great George’s Street, beloved by Dubliners and Bruce Springsteen, who pops in every time he visits. Other great indoor pursuits include going to see some live music – Whelan’s is a popular venue to check out acts on the rise (or on their way down).

Dublin is justifiably renowned as a UNESCO City of Literature, and in November the Dublin Book Festival is held over five days in over 80 venues throughout the city, featuring author interviews, talks and themed guided walks. Host venues include the National Library of Ireland, the National Botanic Gardens, the Royal Dublin Society plus a host of bookshops and arts centres throughout Dublin. 

From November through to the end of January, Winter in Dublin combines gigs, events and a massive New Year’s Eve festival spread over multiple venues across the city centre. Once the festive season is over, locals lay low, and January and February will be much quieter. This is a great time to explore museums or make like a Dubliner and visit one of the city’s independent cinemas such as the Light House Cinema in Smithfield or the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar.

In 1900, the National Gallery was given 31 watercolours by JMW Turner under one condition: in order to protect their delicate pigment, they can only be displayed in January, when the winter light is at its weakest. Although lighting systems now exist that can simulate January’s weaker light, the gallery has maintained its promise and you can only see these stunning works for one month a year.

February sees the start of the Six Nations rugby championship, and Ireland have recently been the tournament’s best side. Even if you can’t nab a ticket for a home game, there’s still a great atmosphere in town when Ireland are playing away – so much so that fans of rival teams will often come to Dublin for the weekend. February is also when the Dublin International Film Festival is on, which highlights the best of local and (some) international film.

Ready to plan your trip to Dublin? Here are your next steps:

Explore Dublin beyond the city center.
Shop local at our five favorite spots in Dublin. 
Navigate like a local with these tips for getting around. 
Give your wallet a break with these free things to do in Dublin.

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