Kiss me, I’m Chi-rish. It’s nearly St. Paddy’s Day, and in Chicago that can only mean one thing. It’s time to dye our liver green! I mean, river.
Outside of Dublin, Chicago throws one of the best St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. From the merriment in Grant Park for the parade to the raucous revelry in the streets, the fun (or craic, as the Irish would say) is for both old and young. So grab a pint – or a Green River pop – and get ready to paddy.
|| Watch the river dyed green.
Dying the Chicago River green is a tradition that dates back to 1962, when a union plumber noticed that the dye used to detect river pollution stained a pair of overall’s green. The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers created a top-secret eco-friendly dye that has colored the river fluorescent green for St. Paddy’s Day every year since! Fun fact: the dye itself isn’t green! Watch it being dumped into the river and you’ll notice that it’s actually orange. Because SCIENCE.
The Dyeing of the River begins at 9 AM as boats dump the coloring into the water and race back and forth to mix it. For great views, grab a spot along the river near the Michigan Avenue or Columbus Bridge, or along Wacker Drive.
|| Catch the parade.
After the river has been dyed, the real fun begins. The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade begins at noon, making its way through Grant Park up Columbus Drive from Balbo to Monroe. There is a viewing stand in front of Buckingham Fountain, but you can grab a spot anywhere along the route to join in the fun. There will be plenty of bagpipes and Irish dancers!
|| Check out the Irish-American Heritage Center Festival.
If you’re looking for a more traditional celebration, head over to the Irish American Heritage Center in Irving Park. Here, the celebrations include traditional Irish music, dance, food, and activities. There’s an arts and crafts fair selling Irish gifts, as well as exhibits and workshops on genealogy and language. They even have a pub of their own to grab a pint in – The Fifth Province.
|| Take a river cruise.
If you just can’t get enough of the Green River, experience it in a different way by hopping on a river cruise! Wendella, Shoreline Sightseeing, and more ferries offer family-friendly St. Patrick’s Day lunch cruises. Or if you’re looking for an adult-only crowd, there are plenty of booze cruises to book for the day on the lake. Nothing like taking in the Chicago skyline from the water!
|| Have a pint in an Irish pub.
After the parade – or during, if you like Guinness for breakfast – everyone makes their way to the pub for an afternoon of revelry and merriment. If you’re looking to hunker down for the day at an authentic Irish pub, there are plenty to chose from around the city! The ones you find in the Loop, Wrigleyville, and River North will be crowded, but this is St. Paddy’s after all, and the crowds are half the fun. Avoid the Tilted Kilt by checking out some of the more notable pubs in town –
- Fado (River North)
- The Galway Arms (Lincoln Park)
- The Kerryman (River North)
- Mrs. Murphy and Sons (North Center)
- The Irish Oak (Wrigleyville)
- Chief O’Neill’s (Irving Park)
- O’Shaughnessy’s Public House (Ravenswood)
- Brehon Pub (River North)
- The Grafton (Lincoln Square)
- Cork and Kerry (Beverly)
- O’Callaghan’s (River North)
- Emerald Loop (The Loop)
|| Go on a pub crawl.
If you’re looking to keep the party going all day, consider joining a bar crawl through the fine establishments in the River North or Wrigleyville neighborhoods. With numerous bars lining both Hubbard and Clark Streets, these are the most popular areas in town on St. Paddy’s. Just be prepared to wait in lines and deal with crowds. But the craic is good and the whiskey is better! You can plan your own map with your friends, but I recommend purchasing a wristband from a pre-organized event like the Chicago Shamrock Crawl that will let you skip lines!
Where are you celebrating St. Paddy’s Day this year?