MORE than half-a-million people are set to descend on Dublin to experience the St Patrick's Day parade on Monday.
But hundreds of thousands more have already arrived in the capital to join in the fun-packed weekend of festivities.
The celebrations begin today with the festival treasure hunt, with teams of four racing across the city visiting famous landmarks and solving clues.
The Irish Craft Beer and Food Market is also open today in the CHQ building at the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC). Entry is €5, and guests can enjoy a variety of Irish craft brewing, whiskey and artisan food.
Festival-goers are expected to come out in their droves for the outdoor events, with Met Eireann predicting warm weather.
Today will see top temperatures of 15 degrees. Tomorrow and Monday will be overcast, but both are expected to reach a respectable 13 and 11 degrees.
There will be a number of street and music performances in the city centre beginning at lunchtime today at venues including South King Street, St Stephen's Green North and Dame Court.
From 4.30pm, St Stephen's Green will host the festival's first Live on the Green concert as part of the I Love My City cultural programme. Performers will include headliner Jerry Fish and Ireland's first New Orleans-style brass group, The Booka Brass Band.
Tonight at 8.30pm Father Ted fans are invited to The Laughter Lounge on Eden Quay where there will be stand-up performances from comedians Joe Rooney (Father Damo) and Patrick McDonnell (Eoin McLove). Doors open at 7pm and the event includes staff selling Mrs Doyle's Craggy Island iced tea.
The British embassy is being lit up green for the first time as part of Greening the City, which sees famous landmarks bathed in the colour. Sunday's main event is the Big Day Out at Merrion Square. The perfect distraction for youngsters, the free event will feature street performances, theatrics, workshops and music and starts at noon.
It would not be the St Patrick's Festival without the parade, which leaves from Parnell Square at noon on Monday. This year's theme is Let's Make History, and the grand marshal is cycling hero Stephen Roche.
At 1.30pm the celebrations will travel to Skerries where St Patrick will arrive by helicopter and be reunited with the goat he left behind hundreds of years ago.
The festival in Dublin closes on Monday at 7.30pm with a performance by traditional musicians Phil Callery, Gerry Harrington and Peter Browne at The Kevin Barry Room in the National Concert Hall. Tickets are free and can be reserved by calling 01-417 0000.