St. Patrick’s Day: When all of Chicago is Irish. Of course, we have a huge Irish-American population in Chicago, but you don’t need to be from the isles to have a good time on St. Paddy’s. From seeing bagpipers and Irish dancers at the parades, to seeing the river turn green, to throwing back a Guinness (or twelve) at your local Irish pub, there’s no wrong way to celebrate. Take advantage of all our city of immigrants has to offer around St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago—just don’t forget to wear green!
RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago
The best St. Patrick's Day events
The Journeymen Plumber’s Local Union 130 has the honor of dyeing the Chicago River before the downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade. The dye is fish-friendly, and the river returns to its usual murky shade by nightfall. Arrive early to get a good view of the urban recreation of the Emerald Isle. Find the best views along the Michigan Avenue bridge's east side, the Columbus Drive bridge's west side or Wacker Drive (upper or lower) between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive.
After the Chicago river is dyed a murky shade of green, the city's big, noisy, fun-filled homage to the Irish makes its way through Grant Park on Columbus Drive, with plenty of bagpipes, drum corps, Irish dancers and other merrymakers in tow. Because St. Patrick's Day falls on a Tuesday this year, the parade will take place the Saturday before. Find the viewing stand filled with local dignitaries in front of Buckingham Fountain.
Celebrate during St. Patrick's Day weekend in a traditional way with Irish food, dances and live music. The event follows Chicago's downtown celebrations, so make a day out of it at this family-friendly event. The festivities continue March 17 at the center's Fifth Province bar with a lineup of musical and dance performances.
Cruise the green Chicago River before or after the city's St. Patrick's Day parade and nab some tasty Irish grub on the tenth annual St. Patrick’s Day Lunch Cruise. The 75-minute cruise of all three Chicago River branches features an Irish-style lunch buffet, full-service cash bar and a tour highlighting the role of the Irish in Chicago's economic development. Three times are available: 10am, noon and 2pm.
The city's southernmost Irish celebration returns with another liquor-less procession along Western Avenue between 103rd and 115th street. In recent years, the event has attempted to shed its boisterous reputation, increasing the fine for open container violations so that families can safely enjoy the floats, bagpipes and marching bands.