How to have a good night out in Dublin
Dublin’s nightlife is legendary worldwide and deservedly so. I've handpicked my favourites for you here so you can skip the mediocre and sample the best.
When you get to Dublin, make sure to pick up either Hot Press or Dubliner magazine in any newsagent or shop - both are excellent for up-to-date city information about music, events and offers. The weekend supplements with either The Irish Times or The Irish Independent newspapers also contain up-to-date event information.
There are six distinct areas for live music and nightlife in Dublin city – Temple Bar, South Great George's Street, South William Street, Merrion Row, Wexford and Leeson Street areas - all within walking distance of each other.
Popular live music venues such as Whelan's (25 Wexford Street, Dublin 2; +353 478 0766; www.whelanslive.com) and The Village (26 Wexford Street, Dublin 2; + 353 475 8555; www.thevillagevenue.com) host gigs most nights of the week. Both are (usually) free before 10pm and then charge an entrance fee.
Dublin's history of live Irish traditional, or ‘trad’ music as the locals say, is legendary. Irish ‘trad’ is lively music that’s easy to dance to. You'll find ‘trad’ music sessions in Temple Bar but you’ll pay top dollar for your pint of Guinness here. More authentic Irish bars are dotted around the city, such as The Cobblestone (77 King Street North, Smithfield, Dublin 7; +353 8721799; www.cobblestonepub.ie), where you're sure to find a 'trad session' every night, with seats permanently reserved for musicians.
Buskers hone their melodies all over Dublin daily and famed musicians such as Bono of U2 and Glen Hansard of The Frames began their musical careers by singing their hearts out on Grafton Street – a diverse stage for ambitious musicians of all ages and genres. Take some time to stroll along Grafton Street to soak up the rhythms and don’t forget to throw a few euros into the case of the musician who thrilled you the most, it will be much appreciated.
Pubs and bars
The corners of Exchequer and South Great George’s Streets, and along Dame Court are home to some of my favourite bars. In summer months, revellers group outside, pints in hand, soaking up the sun. Try The Stag's Head (1 Dame Ct, Dublin 2; +353 6793701) for a traditional Irish pub experience or The Exchequer (3-5 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2; +353 670 6787; www.theexchequer.ie) for a trendier vibe. Equally, some of Dublin’s best restaurants are found in this area.
My pick of Dublin's genuine Irish pubs, free of loud music and serving quality pints of Guinness, are The Long Hall (51 S Great Georges St, Dublin 2; +353 4751590), Kehoe's (9 Anne St S Dublin 2; +353 6778312) and Grogan's Castle Lounge (15 William St South, Dublin 2; +353 6779320; www.groganspub.ie) - where you're guaranteed to have a memorable experience. Chat to a few locals, or the bar staff, for the latest gossip!
Merrion Row, at the top of Grafton Street, or 'The Golden Mile' is another excellent strip of bars and eateries. O'Donoghue's Bar (15 Merrion Row, Dublin; +353 660 7194; www.odonoghues.ie) is one of the best and often has a trad music session in the front bar.
Along South William Street, starting at the Wicklow Street corner and working your way up towards Stephen’s Green, you’re sure to find a bar to suit your mood, most are late opening (11.30pm mid week up to 2.30am at weekends, depending on the bar). One of these, The South William Bar (52 William St S, Dublin 2; +353 672 5946; www.southwilliam.ie) is a lively weekend hangout, with live DJs, serving great cocktails.
Late night antics centre around Leeson and Harcourt Streets where you’ll find early (or very late, depending on your outlook) opening nightclubs – be prepared for cheesy music, young revellers and often messy crowds. Leggs (29 Lower Leeson St, Dublin 2; +353 6766269) is usually packed at weekends.
Music, theatre and comedy
The Olympia (72 Dame St, Dublin 2; +353 679 3323; www.ticketmaster.ie) houses live bands and comedy events in a beautiful old venue, with private booths for a more personal experience. The Academy (57 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1; +353 877 9999; www.theacademydublin.com) is another music venue.
There’s a thriving theatrical and cultural rhythm in Dublin. You should try to attend at least one play, concert or musical in a Dublin theatre before you leave as drama and literature are part of the city's DNA. There's also a wealth of comedy talent, and home-grown acts entertain in small and large venues all year round.
The best Dublin theatres are The Gaiety, The Abbey, The Gate, Andrew’s Lane Theatre and The National Concert Hall...the list goes on. All are beautiful historical buildings. The youngest kid on the block is the stunning Grand Canal Theatre (Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2; +353 6777 999; www.grandcanaltheatre.ie) and you can explore trendy bars and restaurants in the surrounding Docklands area before and after.
Comedy lovers, Vicar Street (58 Thomas Street, Dublin 2; +353 4545533; www.ticketmaster.ie) and Button Factory (2 Temple Bar, Dublin 2; +353 670 9202; www.buttonfactory.ie) are well known on the comedy circuit. The International Bar (23 Wicklow St, Dublin 2; +353 6779250; www.international-bar.com/comedy) is a fantastic showcase for up-and-coming comedy, theatre and songwriting acts every night and the entry fee is as low as 5 euros, or even free.
Have the craic!