St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays and I’m so lucky that Chicago is one of the most popular places to celebrate the Irish. I visited for the holiday before I moved to Chicago, and the city’s energy during this time was definitely an influencer in my decision to make Chicago my home.
Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
The main attraction for St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is the River Dyeing. This always happens the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day at 9 am. Boats cruise up and down the river dropping an orange vegetable dye in the water turning it a beautiful shade of green similar to the Emerald Ilse in Ireland. You need to grab your spot early, as the crowds populate the river starting around 8:15 am. The best point to watch the river is at the intersection of Michigan Ave. and Wacker Drive. On the same day, at around 12 noon, Chicago hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Michigan Ave.
The day after the river dyeing is the South Side Irish Parade. This long-standing tradition is also rumored to have been quite the party in the past and one of the favorites among the locals. Overtime, this has been a great day for families to gather, celebrate the holiday and eat and drink any Irish fare.
Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Bars
If you are going to watch the river dyeing but want a place to enjoy some libations after, anywhere along the Riverwalk will be fun during this time. Two that are known for the shenanigans are:
A place I’ve gone to in the past which is a bit of a walk from the river in the Loop is called Plymouth, which has a fun enclosed rooftop to keep you warm but enjoy some sunshine.
One place I’ll always recommend is Butch McGuire’s which is a fantastic Irish Pub completely decorated with green stringlights for the holiday. I love to celebrate holiday’s here.
More Chicago Irish Pubs
Regardless of the holiday, Chicago has many fun Irish bars throughout the city. Here are a few to consider checking out if the crowds are too much close to the river:
- Galway Arms, Lincoln Park – Home to a beautiful patio, amazing Quesadillas, and board games
- Emmit’s Irish Pub, West Town – A place with a lot of history rumored to hide Gangsters
- The Kerryman, River North – A large, modern space with great food and music
- Timothy O’Toole’s, Streeterville – An underground pub popular with visitors
More Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Events
There is no lack of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago, and many last throughout the month of March. Here are some other things to do within the Chicago area during the great St. Patrick’s Day season.
- Oak Forest Fleadh – The first weekend of March is a great way to kickoff events in Oak Forest. This includes a 5K, Family Parade, and Open Bars.
- Tinley Park Irish Parade – This event happens the Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day
If celebrating in Chicago is so fun you’re ready to go celebrate with the Irish, check out my post on my visit to the wonderful country.