We are about to begin another football season for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and this season has a whopping
seven games six games at home. That’s seven weekends six weekends of sightseeing, tailgating, and college football worship that is unlike any other school in the country.
With the storied tradition of Notre Dame Football and a large fanbase, trips to Notre Dame for game day weekends should be some of the most treasured memories of a fan’s life. I often take it for granted that I have attended so many games over the years; I know that many only make it a few times in their lives. If you’re going to go this year, we don’t want you to miss anything.
This is also for any fan of the teams that Notre Dame is playing this year. The University of Notre Dame is a landmark for college football fans, and with each game in South Bend, you will see thousands of people flocking there to witness all that the school has to offer.
Much of this information comes from Notre Dame’s GAME DAY website. I highly encourage you to visit that site as well. This is more of my personal take on the whole experience.
THE BASICS OF BEING THERE
Before we get into all of the other stuff, you need to get there and know what is allowed.
First things first, right… you have to find a spot to park. If you have a parking pass for one of the campus lots (Joyce, Stadium, Bookstore, etc.) the pass will have most of the information on the back side.
The two most common parking lots for “off campus” parking are White Field (off Douglas Road) and Burke Golf Course (off Angela Blvd.). White will cost $30 and Burke will cost $40.
Not only is White Field cheaper, it also has a shuttle service to and from campus.
Although there are various places to park, the university rules for tailgating are the same for all.
- NO amplified sound –- speakers that stand alone, are excessively loud or are connected to an amplifier
- NO box trucks, motorcycles, or oversized vans
- NO charcoal grills
- NO deep fryers
- NO drones
- NO kegs
- NO open flames (e.g. fire pits)
- NO propane cylinders larger than 20 lbs.
- Propane grills are permitted, but gas cylinders must be under 20 lbs.
- Tents and canopies are allowed
WHAT TO SEE
This is where things get tricky. Not because it’s hard to find things around campus, but because there is so much to see. It can be a little overwhelming for first-time visitors to see it all and do it all, but if you give yourself enough time, it is possible to see most of what Notre Dame has to offer.
Here is a map of campus with a link to a pdf for closer examination:
Please keep in mind that this is also called The Hesburgh Library and The Word of Life mural. Aside from the golden dome atop the Main Building, it’s probably the most iconic landmark on campus, and you’ll surely want a picture of yourself in front of it.
Even if you’re not Catholic, and even if you’re not a Christian, you absolutely must see the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. It is an absolutely beautiful place, and for first-time visitors, it will honestly take your breath away.
Located behind the basilica on the northwest side, people constantly name the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes their favorite place on campus. With all that goes on during game day, there is still a quiet aura that surrounds the place. Just be there for a few minutes and you’ll understand.
There is an aura here too, but it’s much more like Wall Street. You simply have to go once, just to witness the incredible chaos that develops here on a game day. There are plenty of other places on campus to buy merchandise, but this one comes with a merit badge for surviving.
Visit the basketball arena during a football game? YES. The Joyce Center is home to quite a few things, including the Sports Heritage Hall of Fame. The hall is located on the upstairs concourse, and displays all of the trophies and other tokens from all of Notre Dame’s incredible history. Every name of every Monogram winner is engraved in that space.
While these are spread out around campus, you really need to seek them out by keeping an eye out along your way. “We’re #1” Moses, “Fair Catch” Corby, Moose Krause and the Championship Coaches are among the most popular.
The #1 sign that sits atop Grace Hall is lit any time ANY Notre Dame athletic team is ranked No. 1 in the country. Obviously, there is a special place in our hearts for the football program, and when Notre Dame got to No. 1 in 2012, I almost drove up with fellow OFDer Wes Sweigert just to see it lit. (We didn’t, because we were a little too intoxicated to drive).
WHAT TO WATCH
Besides all of the landmarks on campus, there are tons of other happenings going on around campus leading up to the game. Due to three different kickoff times this year, the times for these events vary. I’ll do you a solid and list them for each kickoff time.
3:30 Kickoff (Ball State Cardinals)
- 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM Notre Dame Fan Fest inside Joyce (if you find yourself in a pinch and without booze).
- 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM Bagpipe Band Concert (Main Building)
- 1:15 PM – 1:30 PM Player Walk (TD Jesus)
- 2:00 PM – 2:30 PM Concert on the Steps. (Bond Hall)
- 2:30 PM – 2:40 PM Trumpets Under the Dome (Main Building rotunda)
- 2:40 PM – 2:50 PM Marching Band March Out (Main Building steps to the Stadium)
- 3:05 PM Band takes the field
2:30 Kickoff (Vanderbilt Commodores, Pittsburgh Panthers)
- 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM Notre Dame Fan Fest inside Joyce (if you find yourself in a pinch and without booze).
- 10:30 AM – 11:00 AM Bagpipe Band Concert (Main Building)
- 11:15 PM – 12:00 PM Player Walk (TD Jesus)
- 1:00 PM – 1:30 PM Concert on the Steps (Bond Hall)
- 1:30 PM – 1:40 PM Trumpets Under the Dome (Main Building rotunda)
- 1:40 PM – 1:50 PM Marching Band March Out (from Main Building steps to the stadium)
- 2:05 PM Band takes the field
7:30 Kickoff (Michigan Wolverines. Stanford Cardinal, Florida State Seminoles)
- 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM Notre Dame Fan Fest inside Joyce (if you find yourself in a pinch and without booze).
- 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM Bagpipe Band Concert (Main Building)
- 5:15 PM – 5:30 PM Player Walk (TD Jesus)
- 6:00 PM – 6:30 PM Concert on the Steps (Bond Hall)
- 6:30 PM – 6:40 PM Trumpets Under the Dome (Main Building rotunda)
- 6:40 PM – 6:50 PM Marching Band March Out (from Main Building steps to the Stadium)
- 7:05 PM Band takes the field
If you wish to attend a Mass, here is what will be happening. This comes straight from Campus Ministry:
Mass will be celebrated at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center 30 minutes after home football games when games are played during the day.
Mass will be celebrated at the Basilica at 4 p.m. and at DeBartolo at 4:30 p.m. when games are played at night.
Mass will also take place 30 minutes after home football games in the following residence halls when games are played during the day: Alumni, Dillon, Keough, Morrissey, Ryan, Siegfried and Sorin Halls. In addition, Mass will be celebrated in each of these residence halls at 4 p.m. when games are at night.
All are also welcome to pray the rosary at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart five prior to kick-off every home game Saturday. A specific intention will be prayed before each game. On day games, the rosary will begin at 11:30 a.m. On night games, the rosary will begin at 2:30 p.m.
Should a game be delayed due to weather or game play and the game ends after 8:30 p.m., post-game Mass will be canceled in the Basilica and DeBartolo.
Sunday Masses on home football game weekends will take place in the Basilica at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11:45 a.m.
There are all sorts of things going on Fridays before home games as well.
Get Your Pep Rally On
Things start at the Main Building, with Trumpets Under The Dome at 4:10 PM. Then, the Notre Dame Marching Band begins on the steps of the Main Building at 4:30. The band marches to the pep rally location, and then the rally starts at 6:00.
Midnight Drummers Circle
A whole lot of drums and cadence begins at midnight in front of the Main Building and goes on for about 45 minutes.
You can take a tour of the Gug, the tunnel and campus on Fridays. If you want to spend more of your Saturday tailgating and just having fun, the Friday tours are an excellent way to go if you are up there.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
Each experience at Notre Dame is unique, so please ask around if you haven’t been there before. In fact, if you have any questions at all, please feel free to ask in the comments below. I, or any number of OFD readers, will be able to give you an honest answer to better help you enjoy your time at Notre Dame.
I should be at all of the Notre Dame football games this fall in the press box. I get bored up there before the game. If this little guide helped you in any way, and you want to say hello, give me a shout on Twitter either @onefootdown or @TheSubwayDomer and I’d be happy to shake your hand and share a cold drink (or a warm one in November).
Please enjoy the game and your time at Notre Dame.