The weekends when Notre Dame Football has a home game are always a little more special than any other weekend of the year. Fans from all over the country come to South Bend to cheer on Notre Dame to victory. From the moment they arrive on campus until the moment they leave, there is always something to do. There is so much to do that sometimes one might forget or not even know about some of the great football festivities that go on at campus during the weekend. Here are some of the best things to go check out during a football weekend.
On game weekends, Friday is typically the day for travel. As fans arrive by planes, trains, and automobiles, there is a lot going on at Notre Dame’s campus. While the main highlight of Friday seems to be the pep rally for most fans, there are other traditions that take place throughout campus that you must see.
Along with taking a tour of the beautiful and historic campus of the University of Notre Dame, you can also take a tour that is more unique to Notre Dame Football—A Notre Dame Stadium Tunnel Tour! On Friday’s during game weekends, the gate to the north end of the stadium (directly in front of Touchdown Jesus) is opened to the public for fans to walk down through the tunnel that so many Notre Dame football legends have done before and see what it is like to walk out to a sold out stadium of cheering Notre Dame fans. Best of all, it is FREE! Take your picture with the field in the background and see some of the new renovations being added on to Notre Dame Stadium. The tunnel tours begin at 10:00 am and go until 5:00 pm (except during team walk-throughs).
After you experience the magic and mystique of Notre Dame Stadium for yourself, go to the Golden Dome (the Main Building) for a Notre Dame tradition you do not want to miss. The Trumpets Under the Dome only lasts 10 minutes, but the memory of being a part of it will stick with you for a lifetime. The Notre Dame Marching Band’s trumpet section gathers under the Golden Dome as they play the school’s ulma mater “Notre Dame Our Mother” and the famed “Notre Dame Victory March.” Fans pack the inside of the Main Building as they cheer, clap, and sing along as these two songs echo through the corridors and multiple levels of the building. Goosebumps are to be expected and even a tear or two may be shed.
The trumpet section then rejoins the rest of the band in front of the steps of the Main Building as they march through the campus playing a compilation of songs before the pep rally takes place.
As night descends over campus on Friday evening, make your way to the Grotto to say a prayer and light a candle. Because of the amount of people on campus for the game, the Grotto is illuminated even more than usual with candles from visitors, and the heat radiating within the Grotto can warm even the coldest of nights.
Before you go back to your hotel to get some rest, the Notre Dame Marching Band also has another great tradition that takes place Friday evening at midnight in front of the Golden Dome— Midnight Drummer’s Circle. This tradition belongs to the Notre Dame Drumline. After the bells of the Basilica chime the midnight hour, members of the drumline arrive in front of the Golden Dome and circle up with their instruments in hand. The silent night on campus is then quickly awoken for the next 45 minutes as they plays the drum cadences that will be played during the football game the following day. They also play fan favorites such as the Notre Dame Fight Song and the Rakes of Mallow, which often leads to impromptu dancing within the crowd of people.
Saturday’s are game days! Before you go into Notre Dame Stadium to cheer on your favorite team to victory, tailgating is a must. Along with grilling burgers, playing a game of Cornhole, and discussing with friends who will have a big performance in the game, fans should also make their way to the Joyce Fieldhouse in the Joyce Center from 10:00am – 3:00pm for “The Notre Dame Experience.” The Notre Dame Experience provides fans with games, food, autographs from Notre Dame Football legends, giveaways, and interactive displays. This area provides fans who may not tailgate something fun to do before the game kicks off.
There is so much to explore and experience while on campus when Notre Dame plays a home football game. Make sure you check out these and other fun happenings around campus for a weekend you will not soon forget. For a full list of events happening on campus for game day weekends, click here.
To find out what there is to do outside of Notre Dame while you are here for a game weekend, be sure to read NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL WEEKENDS: WHAT TO DO IN SOUTH BEND.