My first impressions of Dublin were underwhelming – though not through any fault of the city. Dark skies and heavy wind and rain welcomed me, courtesy of Storm Frank. I arrived for my first Dublin New Year’s Eve.

Dublin New Year’s Eve

Dublin New Year - A relatively quiet Ha'Penny Bridge

A relatively quiet Ha’Penny Bridge

By the next day, New Year’s Eve, the skies had brightened up – though only slightly. An event that is usually an anti-climax, I steered clear of the many NYE parties. Instead, I spent the evening speaking and drinking with friendly locals and celebrating in a low-key fashion.

Choosing Dublin was a great place to spend New Year’s Eve. Festivities, street processions and plenty of Guinness – what more could you need?

Choose the right date

Aside from the storm that was battering most of the country, I still chose a good time to travel. I flew out on 30 December. It was surprisingly quiet given that most people had travelled before Christmas Day.

Price wise, I’d managed to secure a low fare as I’d booked in early November. Be prepared to spend a small fortune if you decide to travel anywhere for New Year’s Eve, and at the last minute. Dublin was, by far, more expensive than anticipated. Book accommodation early to get the best rates, or opt for alternative options such as Airbnb.

 

Dublin New Year - Night bus ticket...do not buy it!

Night bus ticket…don’t buy it!

Invest in a Leap visitor card

Depending on the length of your visit, the Leap visitor card can be worthwhile, particularly for travelers on a budget. I purchased the 3-day card at a cost of €19.50 (£15/$21). This allows for unlimited travel on the DART (trains) local buses, LUAS (tram) and the Citylink buses (local and national travel).

Dublin’s transportation system is not 24-hours but you can still use your Leap card on the night buses. If you’re told you can’t use it, they’re lying, you can! My friend and I were charged an additional €6.50 (£5/$7) for a night bus ticket. We were only later refunded when I contacted Transport for Ireland and Dublin Buses. 

The Leap card is also useful for hopping on and off the buses, and discovering a new part of the city.

Extra tip: The timetable for traveling on the DART on New Year’s Eve is quite random, so check beforehand. 

Dublin New Year’s Eve: Find out what’s on

My friend and I were lucky to have been in Dublin during the 3-day New Year’s Festival. Along with taking part in a light procession throughout the city centre, there were plenty other events happening. If New Year’s events do zilch for you, just head to the pub! Most good pubs have a band playing live music. Enjoy traditional Irish songs or more contemporary tunes.

Get lost

Getting lost and finding an alternative path to Dublin Castle

Getting lost and finding an alternative path to Dublin Castle

There’s nothing more I enjoy than getting lost in a new city, and finding something of interest. During the day’s rambling around the city, one pub in particular caught my eye.

An avid fan of speakeasy/prohibition style bars, the wonderfully named Peruke and Periwig has all the components that I love. Bespoke cocktails, eccentric style, cosy atmosphere and bartenders donned in the classic bow tie/waistcoat combo. 

Other great finds I stumbled upon, though not on New Year’s Eve, were:

Dublin New Year - Queen of Tarts, and cakes and pies

Queen of Tarts, and cakes and pies

Queen of Tarts – the larger café on Cow’s Lane and not the smaller one on Dame Street. Serving up a tempting range of freshly made cakes and tarts as well as heartier lunchtime meals.

The Larder – another great find, and eat, on Parliament Street. We chose the brunch menu being served that day (Saturday). It serves up classic Irish dishes, as well as others with a flavorsome twist.

Dublin indoors

While Dublin, and the surrounding areas on the outskirts of the city, is remarkably pretty, the weather in December is not. New Year’s Eve was dry for the most part, though cold, but New Year’s Day was a complete wash-out. Heavy downpours and bitterly cold winds offer two choices in such conditions: stay inside, or go out somewhere where you can stay inside!

Guinness Storehouse on New Year’s Day

With grey skies and constant showers dictating the plans for the day, we took the opportunity to visit the Guinness Storehouse. Our hopes of a quiet tour given the previous night’s festivities were dashed the second we stepped inside. Crowds of people, clearly with the same idea, hovered like a swarm of bees according to their country of origin. For anyone planning or deciding on whether to visit, it’s worth it, but do take note of the following:

Dublin New Year - Guinness Storehouse is where it's at, but on New Year's Day

Guinness Storehouse is where it’s at, just not on New Year’s Day

1. Go during a weekday: although our visit fell on a Friday, don’t go on a public holiday – unless large groups of pushy tourists are your thing.

2. Go later in the day: the storehouse is open from 9:30 am to 17:30 pm giving sufficient time to see everything. The storehouse advises at least 1.5 hours for the entire tour.

3. Choose a clear day to visit (if possible): At the end of the visit, every adult receives a ticket for a complimentary pint of Guinness. You can collect this from the bar on the fourth floor or the Gravity Bar on the seventh floor. The Gravity Bar is located at the top and gives a superb 360° birds-eye view of Dublin.

4. Book online: Grab a 20% discount and skip the queues when you book online. It’s as simple as that.

All in all, it was totally worth traveling to Dublin for the New Year. Friendly people and a city whose rich history only adds to its charm. I can only hope I brought home some luck of the Irish for myself for the new year ahead.

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