Every year, Chicago goes all out for St. Patrick’s Day, and let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago. The city offers pub crawls, lively parades, and family-friendly festivals to cater to everyone who visits the city including our personal favorites, dyeing the Chicago River and the downtown parade! So if you don’t already have plans, be sure to book now to reserve your room on this wild holiday.
Dyeing of the Chicago River | 9 AM
In what might be one of the world’s most famous St. Patrick’s Day rituals, 45 pounds of eco-friendly vegetable dye are poured into the Chicago River to turn it emerald green for the occasion. Actually, at first glance, the dye appears orange on the river’s surface—but don’t panic. Thanks to a little leprechaun magic (or, well, science), the hue transforms and seeps in until the whole river is a bright, beautiful green.
The dyeing of the river remains a beloved tradition for many generations of Chicagoans (it dates back over 50 years ago) and draws nearly 400,000 spectators downtown looking to catch a glimpse before taking in the parade that follows. The Chicago River keeps its coloring for about five hours only, so don’t miss out.
Downtown Parade | 12 PM
What’s a holiday without a parade? How about one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country? Downtown Chicago’s official St. Patrick’s Day Parade is just that. Join in the Chicago tradition that celebrates its 61st anniversary this year. Rain or shine, it begins on Columbus Drive and moves north through Grant Park for roughly three hours, beginning at Balbo Drive and ending at Monroe Drive.
Don your best green outfit—or a kilt if you dare—and embrace all Chicago has to offer for those Irish at heart. Plan on seeing plenty of colorful floats waving their green/white/orange flags high, troops of Irish step dancers in their requisite curls, booming marching bands and bagpipers, and, of course, many a novelty t-shirt.