Notre Dame home football weekends are special.
There’s really no other way to put it. Fans from around the country (and the globe!) descend on The Bend to cheer the Irish to victory. There are several things to do around the area, from kicking back with a local brew to experiencing the South Bend River Lights.
Campus buzzes with activity starting Friday. Many of these things to do — the pep rally, for example — are well known.
Others are a little more under the radar. But they’re no less worthwhile. We’ve got both type of events covered. Add them to your itinerary — no matter what type of fan you are or how long you’re in town.
Football Friday Stadium Tunnel Tours
Ever wondered what it’d be like to run out of the North Tunnel and onto the fabled field inside Notre Dame Stadium?
Fans can do just that (or walk, if you prefer) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on football Fridays. It’s the same tunnel the team has used since 1931 to make its entrance to the field before kickoff. Just consider the legends that have made that trek.
After you do the same, it’s a great photo opportunity. Tours begin at the Knute Rockne Gate, across from Touchdown Jesus. And better yet, they’re FREE.
Trumpets Under the Dome
This is a tradition you don’t want to skip.
The Marching Band’s trumpet section gathers inside the famed Golden Dome just after 4 p.m. on Fridays to play “Notre Dame Our Mother” and the “Notre Dame Victory March.” It’s a scene you won’t soon forget
Friday Pep Rally
If you’re not already pumped up for kickoff, you will be after leaving the pep rally. Join fellow fans to cheer on the Fighting Irish as they gather the night before kickoff. Pep rally locations change from week to week, so check out the schedule below.
Sept. 7 (Ball State): Eddy Street Commons
Sept. 14 (Vanderbilt): Library Quad
Sept. 28 (Stanford): Eddy Street Commons
Oct. 12 (Pittsburgh): Compton Family Ice Arena
Nov. 9 (Florida State): Compton Family Ice Arena
No trip to campus is complete without a stop by The Grotto.
As night sets in around The Bend, visit the Grotto to say a prayer and light a candle. It’ll be illuminated even more than usual with the volume of visitors in town for the game. Heat and an aura radiating from the Grotto can warm even the coldest nights.
Midnight Drummers Circle
By the time Friday night rolls around, it might be time to start thinking about resting up for game day. But wait. There’s at least one reason to stay up late.
Every Friday during a home football weekend, just before midnight, the Notre Dame Drumline convenes in front of the Main Building. After the bells of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart chime for midnight, members of the drumline circle up with their instruments in hand.
Campus quiet is then broken 45 minutes as they play cadences, the fight song and other fan favorites. It’s the official beginning of game day. Next stop, tailgating Saturday morning.
Kickoff looms come Saturday. Yet there is so much else to do.
Parking lots open for tailgating at 7 a.m., even for night games. Eventually the smell of grilling burgers and the sound of cornhole games will float all around outside Notre Dame Stadium. Here’s what you need to know about tailgating at Notre Dame.
Fan Fest adds another element to the pre-game experience.
Located at the Harris Family Track and Field Stadium, Fan Fest opens at 10 a.m. and runs until 30 minutes before kickoff for all home games. Admission is free. Fans have access to on-stage interviews, segments with Notre Dame football greats, games, food, autographs and giveaways.
Head coach Brian Kelly and the team arrive at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on Saturday afternoons for final preparations. They later walk from the Gug to the Hesburgh Library, then turn south toward Notre Dame Stadium and enter through the Tunnel gates. Fans line the walk to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and fire up the team one last time before kickoff.
Marching Band Step-Off
Anticipation for the game builds Saturday as the famed Notre Dame Marching band gathers in front of the Main Building (with the Golden Dome fixed atop). The band starts playing then marches toward the north tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium.
Duncan First Floor Gameday Club
If you’re headed to the game and looking for an added in-stadium experience, there’s something new at the Duncan Student Center. Every home game will offer a brand new experience through the Duncan First Floor Gameday Club. It will be a hub for live entertainment, trivia, giveaways, restaurants and refreshments from two hours before kickoff until the start of the fourth quarter.
Access to the Gameday Club costs $50 in advance and $75 when purchases from noon to 5 p.m. Fridays outside Duncan Student Center.