One of the only countries in the world to have a bank holiday for Hallowe’en, Samhain
, its original Gaelic name, is celebrated with music, dance and fancy-dress parades. The last Monday of October marks the end of the summer harvest season and incorporates the pagan festival of the dead so expect to see a grand parade with a ghostly theme. It’s also the same day as the Dublin Marathon
through the city centre.
Ireland might be green but an autumn break in Dublin
means rich golden colours. Enjoy lush St Stephen’s Green
and admire the changing colours of the leaves on the trees, even better against a backdrop of a crisp blue sky. Take a peaceful Sunday morning stroll along Grand Canal
from the dock westward to Portobello, past locks, basking ducks, quaint bridges and statues.
In Phoenix Park
, Europe’s largest city centre park, you can hire a bike to pedal through thousands of trees, including beech, sycamore and horse chestnut, and you may spot deer on the way. At the superb Botanic Gardens
in the northern suburbs, the rust-coloured trees contrast with the lush palms in the glasshouses.
You can enjoy Dublin’s theatres year-round, but the Dublin Theatre Festival
from late September celebrates drama from around the globe. As well as top performances in the Abbey, Project Arts Centre and the Samuel Beckett Theatre, there are also workshops, free panel discussions and plenty of children’s events. A touch more unorthodox, the fortnight-long Dublin Fringe Festival
in September sees a melange of contemporary high-octane performing arts, from risqué circus in makeshift arenas to escapology in public squares.
Sports fans will love the GAA Museum at Croke Park
, celebrating traditional Gaelic games. But nothing can quite beat being there among the 80,000-strong crowd for a Gaelic football or hurling match. September sees both sports reach the seasonal climax when the All-Ireland finals take place and the city comes alive, especially if the Dubs reach the final. Swot up on the rules of these fast and furious games and join the party.
Curl up with a pint
On chilly autumn evenings, there are few better ways to warm up than with a pint in a cosy bar. Many pubs remain with their original Victorian-era snugs (wood-panelled booths) and perhaps a log fire. Sink into high-backed leather chairs at the hushed Library Bar
or hear the live rock bands at Bruxelles
. Cosy up in lovably shabby Grogans
, popular with old-school writers and actors who settle down on chilly evenings with a pint and a toasted sandwich, surrounded by local artwork.
Opera and pantomime
The highly regarded Opera Ireland
starts its season in November: so dress up and enjoy a touch of Dublin’s high-brow entertainment. A handful of operas are staged each year at the Gaiety Theatre, going strong since 1871. For a taste of the forthcoming winter season, late autumn also sees the first performances of pantomimes
, where the Gaiety puts on Ireland's largest panto.