Posted on July 30, 2023 by Indiana's Cool North
Get ready sports fans! A home game for Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football team doesn’t just begin at kickoff—you’ll find fun things to see and do across campus and South Bend all weekend long. Even if you’re not a football fanatic, getting swept up in the wave of navy, gold, and green is an incredible experience that can’t be passed up when you visit Indiana’s Cool North. Check out our recommendations for how to make the most of game day in South Bend. It has to be included as one of South Bend’s points of interest! (Be sure to check the Game Day link on the Notre Dame website for the latest information).
Between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Fridays preceding home football games, the Eck Visitors Center buzzes with activity. This bustling hub offers an array of attractions, including food, interviews with notable Notre Dame figures, performances, and more. Best of all, admission is free for all to enjoy.
Walk in the footsteps of the Fighting Irish football team with a tour of the north tunnel—the very same one players have used to take the field on game day for the last 86 years! Get your head in the game by slapping a replica of the famous “Play Like a Champion Today” sign before you take the field in the north end zone. Seeing this sports mecca minus the roaring crowds is a unique experience that shouldn’t be missed. See Tour dates and times here.
Of course the Notre Dame Marching Band is an essential element of the big game. But did you know the drumline, the trumpets and the marching band also perform at various sites on campus during the weekend? You can see them perform even if you don’t have tickets to the game.
The trumpet section from the Notre Dame Marching Band will perform Trumpets at the Dome from 4:10 to 4:20 pm on Football Friday. The Midnight Drummers’ Circle is Friday night at 11:59 pm – 12:30 am at the Main Quad, where the Drumline from the Band of the Fighting Irish will perform in front of the Main Building.
Check the schedule HERE to find the time for other performances on Friday and game day.
You can find other game traditions and events HERE , including info about Rockne Rally’s, Friday Night Bash, and where to see the national championship trophy, the Four Horseman Statue and the Heisman Trophies.
Fuel up for a day of football and get a taste of authentic local life at an off-campus restaurant. At Rocco’s, order one of their famous pizza’s and take part in “the other South Bend tradition”. Fiddler’s Hearth is one of the most authentic Irish pubs outside of the Emerald Isle, offering perfectly poured pints and traditional pub-session live music. You can’t find a more true blue (and gold) South Bend pub than Joe’s Tavern. This working-class joint was featured in the movie Rudy and is a great opportunity to chat with die-hard Irish fans.
Before kickoff, campus is alive with activity and excitement. Even the most veteran Irish fan would be hard-pressed to make it to every pre-game event, but if you’ve got time, take a tour around campus and search out some of the most popular campus traditions. Hear from Coach Marcus Freeman in front of the reflecting pool at Hesburgh Library (with Touchdown Jesus on the building). The team then walks to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, where they will attend mass, and into Notre Dame Stadium (Times vary according to game time that day).
Tailgates are by their nature a big deal. But a Notre Dame tailgate favors the uncomplicated and old school mentality that permeates Northern Indiana life. There isn’t a lot of flash or fried food, but you will find plenty of flags, expertly grilled hamburgers, and the infectious enthusiasm of fans that treat every game like the most important one of the season. The parking lots south of the stadium are where you’ll find the most action, but the Legends bar and library lots offer some stiff tailgate competition. Here is a guide to Tailgating in 2023.
With all of the awesome activities available before the game, you don’t even need tickets to feel like one of the Fighting Irish—though if you can score some we highly recommend it! See the dates for the 2023 home games here, as well as inspiration for your football weekend.
Explore our Things to Do page to find more fun in Indiana’s Cool North.