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Notre Dame Football Game Day Guide

Few events in sports compare to Notre Dame football home games. Visiting to watch the Fighting Irish means stepping into an unmatched college football experience with limitless pageantry and tradition. Whether it's your first time or a return trip, use our guide to game day as a way to navigate your plans to visit. 

If you're looking for more information, the official Notre Dame Game Day site is a one-stop shop for all things game day.

2021 Protocols 

Notre Dame announced in late August the protocols for home game weekends and game attendance to begin the season. These guidelines are subject to change. 

Mask Policy 

Masks are optional for visitors vaccinated against COVID-19 "while outdoors or in non-enclosed spaces." This includes the stadium bowl, concourse and premium outdoor seating. Non-vaccinated visitors are "expected to wear masks during their time on campus," per the Notre Dame policy. Regardless of vaccination status, all visitors are required to wear masks when indoors. 

Tailgating 

Tailgating in the parking lots around Notre Dame Stadium returns for the 2021 season. Lots will open at 8 a.m. for the first two games of the year. Opening times for future games will be announced later. Read our full tailgating guide for the policies you should know before setting up in the parking lot.

Football Fridays 

Several outdoor pre-game traditions return in 2021 as fans prepare for Saturday kickoff. Fridays around campus will buzz with activity. 

Visit the Gug

The Guglielmino Complex is home to the Notre Dame football team on a daily basis. Fans can check it out for themselves from 8 am. to 2 p.m. on home game Fridays. Access is free and limited to the areas where several Heisman Trophies and other memorabilia is on display. 

Football Fridays at the Eck 

Stop by the Eck Visitors Center from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Friday before a home game for all sorts of activities: Food, interviews with Notre Dame celebrities, student group performances and photo ops. Admission is free. 

Pep Rally 

Pre-game pep rallies, a staple of Fridays before a home game, are coming back this year. The pep rally for the Toledo game is being held at 6 p.m. Friday on the South Quad.

Midnight Drummers Circle 

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, campus quiet is then broken 45 minutes as the drumline play cadences, the fight song and other fan favorites. It’s the official beginning of game day. Next stop, tailgating Saturday morning. 

Game Day 

After all the activities on Friday, it's time for game day. Tailgating lots open at 8 a.m. But there are a couple other traditions worth checking out before heading into the stadium.

Gameday Express

Transpo, the public transit system in South Bend, runs a free shuttle to Notre Dame on game days. The Gameday Express Route picks up at multiple locations in downtown South Bend and drops off visitors at the Eck Visitors Center. It runs for three hours before kickoff and two hours after the game ends. 

Player Walk 

Head coach Brian Kelly and the team arrive at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on Saturday morning 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. It’s the soundtrack that leads you into kickoff.