Like many European capitals, Dublin is a vibrant and exciting city to both visit and live in. There is usually something to do at any time of the day, though there are times when you can be more limited. Though, as a guide, I have often noticed visitors struggle to explore Dublin’s night-time culture.
Dublin has many venues for performances of plays and music, in addition to pubs and nightclubs that will be open past 12am. There are cinemas and restaurants which cater to customers late in the night for experiences without alcohol. Dublin also has late night traditions that many locals enjoy.
The laws in Ireland generally prohibit many establishments from staying open late into the night. Still, there are plenty of things to see and do, provided you know where you’re going. You may need to plan ahead of time for some of these events and for others, you might just have to get lucky…
Enjoy the Music in Templebar
While the Templebar district is not the most popular location in the city among locals, it is famous around the world for a reason. As you stroll through this sometimes infamous area of the city, you will come across live music coming out of almost every pub.
If you want to experience live music in Dublin with consistency, then this is the place to go. Many of the musicians that perform here have been doing so for years and the crowds that come here show how popular they are.
Having said this, there are a few things you should look out for when exploring the Templebar area.
First of all, there will be many people who have been drinking in this district. While it is not dangerous, you should exercise some common sense caution that you would in any big city. You should be aware that the drinks here will be more expensive, click here for my guide to Dublin’s pub prices.
Also, you need to know that the music here is not going to be the most authentic Irish music. Read on to find out where to experience that…
Watch a Late Night Film Screening
There are plenty of places around the city where you will be able to watch a movie late at night. A couple of my favourite places to check out are below:
- The Stella Cinema; this place is a little outside of the city centre, but is easily accessible by both bus and taxi. It has recently been renovated to look like a classic movie theatre from the 1920’s and is a very popular spot with locals.
- The Lighthouse; this cinema is in Smithfield Square, across from the Jameson Whiskey distillery. If you want to check out the latest cool documentary or enjoy a classic movie, its probably on in here.
Dance the Night Away in Coppers
Copper Face Jacks is possibly the most popular nightclub in Ireland, tens of thousands of Irish people have met their spouses right here. If you want to have a good time with the locals, well after every other venue in the city is closed, then this is where you go.
“Coppers” is open later than almost any other nightclub in Ireland and will often stay open well after 2am, when everywhere else is closed, due to Ireland’s current strict alcohol licensing laws. If you want to go here, try and head between 12 and 1am, before the line gets too long, unless you have a gold card of course…
Join a Traditional Music Jam Session
If you chose to stay in the Templebar district, you will find musicians that will play the occasional traditional Irish song, along with Sweet Caroline and Wonderwall. If you stay somewhere like Coppers, you will listen to a DJ play lots of current chart hits on the dancefloor.
Don’t get me wrong, you can have a great night experiencing both, but if you want to see something a little more authentic, you should go somewhere else.
A traditional Irish music session will have musicians who know how to play show up in a pub and join the songs they know and hang back from the ones they don’t. They will bring their instruments to the pub and play, purely for the love of it.
For more information on where to find these, please click this link of my recommendations for Dublin and learn about the Irish Pub Culture Tour.
See a Play or Live Show
Dublin has a rich literary history and there are many famous theatres throughout the city. Many of them will put on performances late into the night. Click the link below to find out if there is anything on late at night in one of Dublin’s famous theatres.
Take a Stroll
It can often be a great experience to wander a city at night, when the streets are largely empty of people. In a city like Dublin, you will be able to see many things that the hustle and bustle of the city will distract you from.
Exploring the city at night may be easier than you think. There is good street lighting almost everywhere you go, even outside the city centre. You will be able to see streets empty of people and some wildlife, especially foxes, start to reclaim them.
Having said that, please exercise some caution when travelling at night. While Dublin is a safe city, do not do anything that you are uncomfortable with and exercise caution when travelling the streets at night. Also, make sure to wear high-visibility clothes and take care of your surroundings.
Experience Modern Irish Cuisine
Even as recently as 10 years ago, most visitors to Ireland would say that while they enjoyed their stay in the country, the food left a lot to be desired. This is no longer the case. Ireland has gone through a major “foodie” revolution and you will be able to experience this even after midnight in many parts of the city centre.
If you want something more traditional, then make sure to head to one of the many takeaways throughout the city open well into the wee hours of the morning. Though this is typically classified as “drunk-food”, you should be able to enjoy it regardless.
Have a Drink in a Late Bar
As stated before in this article, Ireland has very strict alcohol laws, many of our pubs and nightclubs will have to close earlier than most other countries in Europe. With this being said, there are plenty of places where you can enjoy a drink well after midnight.
Some of the pubs you can check out include:
Go to a Gig
There are plenty of famous venues in Dublin that will often have performances well after midnight. You might be able to find amazing gigs from some of the best artists in the world that continue well after you might think.
The Grand Social and The Workman’s Club (both mentioned in the above section) often have live performances and you should definitely check them out if this is what you are looking for. Another great location in the city is the much beloved Whelan’s pub and music venue.
Get “Locked In”
This is a phenomenon in Irish pub culture. This is when the owner/ bartender will close the bar to the public officially and not let anyone else inside, but the patrons that are already in can continue drinking after the legal closing time.
The theory is that this is officially a private party once the doors are closed. I cannot tell you where to find one of these, you can only really luck into one yourself. Please enjoy the video below of Saoirse Ronan explaining what they are: