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St. Patrick's Day Parade 2017
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2023

Find the best spots to watch the bagpipers and dancers in the St. Patrick's Day Parade with our guide to the festivities.

Written by
Zach Long
,
Emma Krupp
&
Jeffy Mai
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St. Patrick's Day festivities in Chicago can only mean two things: a parade and a green river. Every March, hundreds of thousands head downtown to welcome the Irish holiday with full green-hued gusto. Kick off the day by finding a spot on the Michigan Avenue bridge, where you can watch gallons of dye being poured into the river (here's how they dye the river green). Then, make your way over to Grant Park, where bagpipers, dancers and politicians make their way north on Columbus Avenue for the parade procession.

Once the festivities have wrapped up, feel free to hang around in the Loop to tour Chicago attractions like Millennium Park and the Art Institute, or make your way to one of the best Irish pubs in Chicago for a pint and a platter of fish and chips. Dig out your green clothes and prepare to party, because we've assembled everything you need to know about the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide complete guide to St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

When is the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade?

The St. Patrick's Day Parade will step off at 12:30pm on Saturday, March 11, and is preceded by the dyeing of the Chicago River at 10am. For optimal views of the fluorescent green water, head to the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge, the west side of the Columbus Drive bridge or find a spot on the Riverwalk between State Street and Columbus Drive.

Where is the Chicago St Patrick's Day parade route?

This year's parade starts at the intersection of Columbus and Balbo Drives, continuing north on Columbus until concluding at Monroe Street. Barricades are set up along Columbus, and attendees typically arrive early to set up seats. The main viewing stand is located in front of Buckingham Fountain, where dancers and bands pause to wave to the crowd. You can purchase tickets for VIP grandstand seating here.

How do I get to the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade?

Take the Blue or Red Line and get off in the Loop. Then, walk to Columbus Avenue in Grant Park. You can also access the area via Orange, Pink, Green and Brown lines. Simply get off at Wabash and walk to Columbus Avenue from there. 

Attractions to see after the St. Patrick's Day Parade

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Grant Park
  • price 2 of 4

You could spend the next four years getting to know this encyclopedic institution, which owns more than 300,000 artworks and artifacts from all over the world and every era from antiquity to the present. Our favorite pieces include the Japanese prints, fragments of local buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Thorne Miniature Rooms. We’re also in love with Renzo Piano’s light-filled Modern Wing.

  • Museums
  • Art and design
  • Loop

On any given day at the Chicago Cultural Center, you might find a free classical concert being performed, an art exhibition on display in one of the building’s many galleries or tourists marveling at the world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome. Don’t worry about paying for admission—nearly everything that happens in this building is free and open to the public. Housed in a structure that’s as wide as an entire city block and dates back to 1897 (when it originally housed the Chicago Public Library), the Chicago Cultural Center provides a place for citizens and visitors alike to experience amazing art and beautiful architecture without spending a cent.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Millennium Park

Visitors can take a spin on the park's quarter-mile skating ribbon, which wraps around a 40-foot climbing wall on the northern end of the 20-acre plot. The Play Garden, featuring enormous slides and whimsical climbing structures, is also open. The play structure is like none other with a giant pirate ship play structure, kaleidoscope and mirrored maze. In the summer, enjoy the climbing wall or revisit the skating ribbon when it's converted into a path for walkers, joggers and rollerskaters.

Millennium Park
  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Millennium Park

This 24.5-acre park features Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion and serpentine bridge, sculptor Anish Kapoor's 110-ton Cloud Gate (a.k.a. “The Bean”), and Jaume Plensa's Crown Fountain, with its ever-changing array of locals' faces spewing water every five minutes in the summer months. The Lurie Garden wows with year-round flower displays that draw inspiration from prairies and other Midwestern landscapes.

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  • Things to do
  • Grant Park

It doesn’t spew water in winter, but with its four Art Deco–style seahorses, Georgia pink marble and holiday light and music show, this fountain built in 1927 is still a sight to behold. From May through Labor Day, 20-minute shows every hour on the hour feature 14,000 gallons of water spouting from 133 jets. In summer, see the nighttime colored light shows, capped off with a center jet shooting 150 feet of water in the air.

Restaurants near the St. Patrick's Day Parade

  • Restaurants
  • Loop

Dumpling fiends know that Qing Xiang Yuan in Chinatown serves some of the tastiest dumplings in town. The family-owned restaurant, which traces its humble roots to a basement food court, has a second, quick-service location in the Loop. At JIAO, guests can expect shorter wait times and a grab-and-go experience that's built for lunchtime noshing. Choose from pillow pockets filled with everything from truffle and beef to pork and cabbage.

Wildberry Pancakes & Cafe
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Loop
  • price 1 of 4

Straight from the ’burbs and into the corporate confines of Prudential Plaza comes this cheery pancake house, where Millennium Park tourists mingle with Edelman execs having breakfast meetings. Aside from the assiduously refilled coffee, these folks are starting their day with unnaturally large omelettes, giant breakfast sandwiches overwrought with cheese, and dense, custard-filled pancake stacks drizzled in berry puree. How do places like this manage to make pancakes that fill you up in only two bites? Ask the servers here—if our experience was any indication, they’ll answer with speed and a smile.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Owner Billy Lawless nailed the gastropub with this Mag Mile hit. The whiskey list is lengthy, beer options reach beyond the basics, and wines are accompanied by clever, straightforward descriptions. The food is rich and aggressively flavorful, from the perfect-for-snacking Scotch egg to the Gage venison burger, served a juicy medium-rare and dripping with melted onions and white cheddar.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Meet The Gage's little sister, Acanto, offering a casual but quality dining experience on Michigan Avenue. Start with a cheese plate, which comes with an array of accompaniments, before moving onto well-executed pastas, crispy arancini and chicken piccata. End with the smoothest, creamiest gelato in town.

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  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Tucked behind the Game Room in the Chicago Athletic Association, Cherry Circle Room used to be where club members refueled. Now that it’s open to everyone, the talented kitchen turns out gorgeous dishes like shrimp cocktail with a delightful Bloody Mary-spiced cocktail sauce and beef tartare mixed with quail egg. A roving cocktail cart serves drinks tableside, and the old fashioneds selection is unmatched.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Loop

Whether you're looking for a pre-theater snack at the bar or a weekend brunch option, The Dearborn has you covered with its versatile menus and sprawling dining room. Go casual with a burger and fries or turn things up with rich options like beef short rib, filet mignon with roasted bone marrow or house-made Parmesan gnocchi. Just be sure to save room for dessert—the pecan-praline creme brulee is divine.

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Bars near the St. Patrick's Day Parade

  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Loop
  • price 3 of 4

Whenever we want to impress our out-of-towner visitors, we book a table at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel’s rooftop bar, from which vistas of Millennium Park, Lake Michigan and the city skyline are on full display. The drink lineup compliments the main attraction, with easy-sipping selections best enjoyed in the sun. As an added bonus, the spirit-free menu rocks, offering bold, never watered-down selections.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

For more than 50 years, this cavernous Loop tavern has cornered the market on medieval dives. Beyond the heavy doors that seem to hide a monastery, you’ll find an after-work crowd of mostly suits and occasional skirts downing beer.

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  • Bars
  • Hotel bars
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Located on the 26th floor of Virgin Hotels' downtown location, Cerise is surrounded by glistening skyscrapers that become illuminated after the sun goes down. Pair cocktails, wine and beer with a curated selection of bites, like the grilled octopus with gochujang aioli. A lineup of rotating DJs and super comfy furniture are huge bonus points that make lounging around all night way too easy.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Loop
  • price 1 of 4

True to form, Brando’s Speakeasy is anything but what it seems. It’s a lounge, but conversation flows more like a neighborhood haunt. The decor and vintage posters throw it back eras, but the karaoke and late-night dance music add modern flair. While it’s not Don Vito Corleone meets Al Capone as the name might imply, Brando’s is definitely a mash-up.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

A rooftop bar on the third floor of a Renaissance hotel? It doesn't sound very exciting, but you shouldn't underestimate Raised, a stunning oasis perched above Wacker Drive in the Loop. The garden-themed bar offers unique views of the Chicago River and the surrounding skyline, with clear shots of the Wrigley Building, Marina City and the Michigan Avenue Bridge. If you can, grab a seat at the curved railing along the perimeter of the building and order a round of botanical-themed cocktails, like the Watered Flowers with vodka, strawberry, cucumber and rose water.

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Follow up an afternoon of bagpipes and drums with some blues music at this popular South Loop club, named for one of the city's most legendary performers. And if you like Louisiana cuisine, the kitchen has just what you need.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Loop
  • price 2 of 4

Located in the Chicago Athletic Association, the sprawling bar has pool tables, a poker table, chess boards and a full bocce court, so there’s plenty to entertain you between rounds of drinks. Snacks are simple and include Chicago Mix popcorn and fried Wisconsin cheese curds served with ranch and marinara.

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