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March 2018 events calendar for Chicago

Plan out your March in Chicago with our calendar of the best things to do, including picks from theater, art and music
st. patrick's day parade 2018
Photograph: Grace DuVal
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March in Chicago conjures one color: green. From the river to the drunk people to the junk at drug stores, Chicago does not skimp on the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But March also marks the creaky beginnings of spring—little blades of grass peeking out here and there, light(er) jackets, melting snow. But don’t get your hopes up; you probably won't experience outdoor bar weather quite yet. Because as they say, Chicago comes in like a lion, and goes out like… well, like a drunk lion. Start planning your month with our March 2018 events calendar for Chicago.

RECOMMENDED: Events calendar for Chicago in 2018

Featured events in March 2018

st patrick's day 2018,
Photograph: Grace DuVal
Things to do

Dyeing of the Chicago River

icon-location-pin Michigan Avenue Bridge, Loop
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A tradition since 1962, representatives of the Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 pour dye into the Chicago River on the morning of the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, turning the water a bright shade of green. The dye is vegetable-based, so the river typically reverts to its usual murky shade by the end of the weekend. The dyeing takes place between Columbus Drive and State Street, so head to the Michigan Avenue bridge or snag a spot along the Riverwalk for the best views of the action.

st. patrick's day parade 2018
Photograph: Grace DuVal
Things to do

Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade

icon-location-pin Columbus Dr and Balbo Ave, Grant Park
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After the Chicago River is dyed a murky shade of green, the city's big St. Patrick's Day celebration moves to Grant Park for a parade on Columbus Drive. You'll see bagpipes, drum corps, Irish dancers and politicians at this festive procession, which is among the largest events of its type in the coutry. The parade marches north from Balbo Drive to Monroe Street, with a viewing stand situated in front of Buckingham Fountain.

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A family-friendly parade, filled with bagpipers, floats and Irish dancers, made its way down Western Avenue for the South Side Irish Parade on March 16, 2014.
Photograph: Max Herman
Things to do

South Side Irish Parade

icon-location-pin Western Ave from 103rd St to 115th St, Beverly
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The South Side hosts this annual St. Patrick's Day celebration, which—unlike the city's downtown parade—actually takes place on the holiday it honors. The procession of floats, bagpipes and marching bands moves north on Western Avenue, beginning at 103rd Street and ending at 115th Street. Though it was once common-place to find attendees imbibing along the route, the city has increased the fine for open container violations in recent years in an effort to make parades throughout the city more family-friendly (in other words, the green beer can wait until after the event).

Things to do, Festivals

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

icon-location-pin Navy Pier | Chicago, IL, Streeterville
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Mark the arrival of spring in Chicago (at long last!) by heading to Navy Pier, where the Chicago Flower & Garden show will leave you craving warmer weather. Visitors can sit in on instructional seminars, walk through manicured gardens, purchase plant-related souvenirs at the market and obtain culinary tips from chefs at cooking demonstrations. The Kid's Activity Garden offers hands-on projects for kids, such as learning how to plant seeds and growing vegetables.

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Photograph: Max Herman
Sports and fitness, Running

Shamrock Shuffle

icon-location-pin Grant Park | Chicago, IL, Millennium Park
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Shake off the winter cobwebs by going for an 8K run or a 2-mile walk through the Loop at this St. Patrick's Day-themed race. Thousands of participants dress up in green and begin their journey in Grant Park, winding through the Loop before crossing the finish line in the downtown park. If you're willing to brave the chilly temperatures, you'll get a T-shirt, a medal and access to the post-race party, featuring live music and refreshments.

Concerts in March 2018

Christine McVie returns to the stage with Fleetwood Mac at a packed Allstate Arena on Feb 14, 2015.
Photograph: Joshua Mellin
Music, Rock and indie

Fleetwood Mac

icon-location-pin United Center | Chicago, IL, United Center
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Just when we thought that the classic, Rumours-era lineup of Fleetwood Mac was back together for good, the group recently announced that founding member Lindsey Buckingham was kicked out of the band. He'll be replaced on tour by Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell and Crowded House frontman Neil Finn—two experienced musicians who certainly know their way around tracks like “Gold Dust Woman” and “Tusk.” Of course, Stevie Nicks, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Christine McVie are still in the group, so hopefully their soaring vocal harmonies are enough to cover up Buckingham's conspicuous absence.

KISS
Photograph: Bill Whitmire
Music, Rock and indie

Kiss

icon-location-pin United Center | Chicago, IL, United Center
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After Kiss embarked on its farewell tour in 2000, guitarist Paul Stanley described the shows as an attempt to "put Kiss out of its misery." The self-imposed retirement didn't stick, which is why—nearly two decades later—the face-painted heavy metal act is once again trying to stop rock 'n' rolling all night on its End of the Road Tour. With the band's two remaining original members (Stanley and figurehead Gene Simmon) in their late 60s, it's probably the right time to stop trotting around stages in heavy costumes and platform boots. It's (probably) your final chance to witness the tongue-wagging, explosions and sing-alongs of a Kiss concert—if you're in to that kinda thing, don't miss out.

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La Traviata
Photograph: Todd Rosenberg
Music, Classical and opera

La Traviata

icon-location-pin Civic Opera House | Chicago, IL, Loop
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Set amid the lavish surroundings of Paris at the beginning of the 19th century, La Traviata follows courtesan Violetta as she falls in love with a young man named Alfredo. But the romance is not meant to be, as Alfredo's father forces him to leave Violetta, setting the stage for a tragic romantic tale. Featuring detailed costumes, oversized puppets and Giuseppe Verdi's rousing score, the Lyric's production of this classic opera seems extravagent in all the right ways.

Empress Of
Photograph: Courtesy Adam Elramly
Music, Dance and electronic

Empress Of + Salt Cathedral

icon-location-pin Sleeping Village, Avondale
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On her 2015 debut, Me, Empress Of mastermind Lorely Rodriguez looked inward with a self-produced collection of R&B-tinged electro-pop anthems. Her latest album, Us, finds the Los Angeles singer-songwriter working with the likes of Blood Orange frontman Dev Hynes and hip-hop production duo DJDS, exploring the floating beats and dreamy synths of contemporary pop music. In concert, Rodriquez is a whirlwind of infectious energy who dances to beat whenever she's not behind her keyboards and samplers. New York synth-pop duo Slat Cathedral opens the show.

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Robyn
Photograph: Heji Shin
Music, Pop

Robyn

icon-location-pin Aragon, Uptown
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It's been eight years since Robyn's last solo album, Body Talk, introduced tracks like "Dancing on My Own" and "Call Your Girlfriend" to club soundsystems and late-night playlists across the globe. The Swedish pop superstar's follow-up, Honey, is a sweet concoction of catchy electronica and heartfelt refrains that place Robyn's voice and emotions at the forefront. Expect some fresh permutations of her latest songs when Robyn shows up in Chicago and, rest assured, even if you're riding solo, you won't find yourself along on the dance floor.

The Bad Plus
Photograph: Shervin Lainez
Music, Jazz

The Bad Plus + José James

icon-location-pin Symphony Center, Loop
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After the departure of longtime pianist Ethan Iverson (and the addition of pianist Ethan Iverson), jazz trio the Bad Plus readjusted its course once again with Never Stop II, a sequel to the group's first album of original music. Still, the Bad Plus is best known for its quirky covers of pop and rock songs, so expect at least a few indie rock anthems (Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Maps") and '80s pop hits (Tears of Fears' "Everybody Want to Rule the World"). Guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel joins the the Bad Plus for its latest stop at Symphony Center, accompanied by an opening set from vocalist José James who will perform a tribute to R&B legend Bill Withers.

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Cupcakke
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Cupcakke + Haiku Hands + DJ Taye

icon-location-pin Thalia Hall | Chicago, IL, Lower West Side
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Chicago rapper Cupcakke is best known for her extremely raunchy rhymes and one-liners, but her recent album, Eden, finds ways to move beyond sex and offer a more intimate look at her beliefs. Between quips about genitalia, Cupcakke promotes body positivity, lashes out against abusers and dedicates an entire track to celebrating individuals with autism. If you're a fan of quick-witted flow and don't mind a few graphic references to bodily fluids, this hometown concert should be a real treat. Australian dance-pop trio Haiku Hands and local footwork producer DJ Taye open the show.

Bad Bunny
Photograph: Courtesy CMN Network
Music, Rap, hip-hop and R&B

Bad Bunny

icon-location-pin Allstate Arena, Suburbs
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Going from a grocery store bagger with a SoundCloud account to a featured artist on Cardi B's smash hit "I Like It" in just a matter of years, Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio (a.k.a. Bad Bunny) has become the face of the bugeoning Latin trap scene. The Puerto Rican artist with a penchant for shaving intricate patterns into his buzz cut and wearing wacky sunglasses recently released his debut album, X 100pre, which featured collaborations with Diplo and Drake. If you dig hip-hop en español, you should probably catch Bad Bunny at Allstate Arena before he moves on to even bigger stadiums.

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Kacey Musgraves
Photograph: Kelly Christine Sutton
Music, Pop

Kacey Musgraves

icon-location-pin Chicago Theatre | Chicago, IL, Loop
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Hailing from Texas, singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves made a name for herself with twangy tunes about small-town living, romance and staying true to yourself. On Golden Hour, Musgraves frequently moves beyond country music, experimenting with bouncy disco arrangements and vocoder-aided vocal melodies that exhibit her usual pristine pop sensibilities. The catchy hooks and harmonies are infectious, but the most striking element of Musgraves' music is its raw emotional honesty.

Mumford & Sons
Photograph: Courtesy the artist
Music, Rock and indie

Mumford & Sons

icon-location-pin United Center | Chicago, IL, United Center
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Once known for writing banjo-picking, foot-stomping folk-rock anthems, the lads of Mumford & Sons have comfortably settled into their new identity as radio-friendly rockers. The group's latest album, Delta, takes Marcus Mumford's vocal harmonies and places them atop moody electronic compositions that wouldn't sound out of place on a Coldplay record. It's an obvious direction to take for a band that can easily fill arenas, but at least it will be interesting to hear how Mumford & Sons integrates the twangy choruses of smash hits like "I Will Wait For You" and "The Cave" into a set of sleek new tunes.

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Comedy in March 2018

Comedians You Should Know
Photograph: Melissa Mamroth
Comedy, Stand-up

Comedians You Should Know

icon-location-pin Timothy O'Toole's, Streeterville
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This weekly night of comedy, curated by a group of funny folks, puts local stand-ups on your radar. Producers include stand-ups Danny Kallas, Joe Kilgallon, Ricky Gonzalez, Allison Dunne, Jonah Jurkens and Blake Burkhart, but the lineup changes each week.

GYG Chicago TTD

More to explore

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