Notre Dame Football Weekends: Hidden Gems

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. 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. Consider these events or sites some of the best “hidden gems” during a Notre Dame football weekend. And 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.

The Grotto

OK, maybe the Grotto isn’t really a hidden gem. It’s still worth seeking out.

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 of 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.

Fan Fest

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.

Trumpets Under the Dome

This is a tradition you don’t want to skip. Unless you want to miss out on the magic and mystique of Notre Dame leading up to kickoff.

About an hour before the game, the Notre Dame Marching Band’s trumpet section gathers under the Golden Dome as they play the school’s alma mater and famed “Notre Dame Victory March.” Fans pack the Main Building as they cheer, clap and sing along. Trumpets echo through the Main Building’s corridors.

Trumpets Under the Dome is brief, lasting only about 10 minutes, but packed with memories. Expect goosebumps.

Insider tip: Looking for some things to do off campus during your home game weekend visit? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a guide: Notre Dame Football Weekends – What to Do in The Bend.