Where and how to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

After an icy winter, March is finally here, slowly bringing us closer to a sunny spring. If you’ve spent the past few months cozy in the comfort of your own home, isn’t it time to get out of hibernation mode and enjoy everything that Chicago has to offer?

If you’re stuck for ideas, you’re in luck. In fact, you’re in shamrock luck. Why? Because Chicago’s  St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are just around the corner. And with so much excitement to make your head spin, you’ll surely have plenty of choices in terms of what the glorious Windy City has to offer! Chicago is world famous for their St. Patrick’s festivities.

From dyeing the Chicago River a beautiful and gleaming emerald green to the multiple parades throughout the city, not to mention all the famous Irish pubs everywhere you look, this year’s celebrations are not to be missed. Here’s your definitive guide to where and how to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day in Chicago this year.

A classic tradition returns

Despite the global pandemic that put many traditions on hold, this year, the dyeing of the Chicago River returns in full swing. Taking place at 10:00 am on Saturday, March 11, this is a mammoth task that members of the Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 happily undertake to bring smiles and joy to all spectators.

Yes, the river will be dyed a vibrant shade of neon green to celebrate all things Irish. This tradition began all the way back in 1962 and it returns in full swing this year.

For the best spots to view this classic tradition, consider heading over to Upper and Lower Wacker Drive between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive.  The Michigan Avenue Bridge is arguably the best place to watch the river dyeing. You can enjoy spectacular views anywhere on the Riverwalk between State Street and Columbus Drive.  If you prefer to enjoy the river dyeing in comfort, head atop the London House rooftop! Sip a green beer and hang out the rooftop bar or the 21st floor lounge sporting your St. Paddy’s complementary swag!  Or try Pizza Portofino with their crazy St. Paddy’s Day party, watching the river dyeing, sipping on St. Paddy’s cocktails and dancing the day away with live DJs. Whatever your choice, it’s sure to knock your St. Paddy’s Leprechaun hat off!

Parades, parades, parades!

Yes, Chicago is known for a multitude of vibrant parades, but hardly anything beats the Annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Held every year on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day (this year, it will be on March 11 starting at 12:30), this massive parade will celebrate the rich Irish culture and heritage.

The tradition began all the way back in 1843 and has been running for 175 years. During this spectacular event, you’ll immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of bagpipe bands, colorful floats, Irish dancing, and a whole lot more. For the best views, head over to Buckingham Fountain.

And if you thought that was all in terms of parades, you’d be quite mistaken! There are two more where that came from so if you missed one, you still have a chance to catch another one (or two)!

Of course, we are talking about the historic South Side and Northwest Side Irish parades, which will take place on Sunday, March 12, from 12:00 pm. The former will begin at 103rd Street and Western Avenue and proceed south along Western Avenue to 115th Street. These are great parades to get the neighborhood flavor of St. Paddy’s Day.

The latter – the Northwest Side Irish Parade – will begin from William J. Onahan School, 6634 W. Raven St., on Sunday, March 13 at 12:00 pm and proceed along N. Neola Avenue to N. Northwest Highway to Harlem Avenue. These are not to be missed!

Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle

Continuing with the festivities, if you’re up for something healthier and still keeping up with the Irish spirit, you can try the annual Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. This is a major running event in Chicago and perfect for the whole family.

A big running event for the city, the Shamrock Shuffle offers an 8K run, a 2-mile walk, or a one mile race, all along the picturesque lakefront. It’s scheduled to take place on Saturday, March 26 and the race’s start and finish lines are at Grant Park at the intersection of Columbus Drive and Monroe Street.

The Shuffle will finish with a great Post Race Party at Buckingham Fountain and features live entertainment at Advocate Health Care entertainment stage.

St. Patrick Festival at the Irish American Heritage Center

On March 12, the Irish American Heritage Center will host one of the city’s biggest, family-friendly celebrations. This year, it will feature traditional and contemporary Irish music and dance, Irish food and drink for purchase, children’s activities, and an Arts and Craft Fair that will feature vendors selling Irish gifts.

As for the entertainment, you will be able to immerse yourself in the sights and visually stimulating talents and performances by the Academy of Irish Music, the Trinity Irish Dancers, Shannon Rivers, and more.

Rollin’ on the river

For the bold and adventure-seeking souls among you, why not hop on board a St. Patrick’s Day yacht party on Lake Michigan? You’ll be able to take in the city’s sensational skyline, dance your heart out, and enjoy delicious drinks, food, and of course, amazing DJ sets.

All-Irish pub crawls

We know that celebrating Irish culture and heritage wouldn’t be the same without a pint of beer and some delicious treats. And in this regard, the city doesn’t disappoint. From a magical Irish pop-up at Charm’d Bar with a rainbow archway, leprechauns, and all things Irish to MIllennium Hall where you can enjoy a full breakfast buffet, beer, and more.

But the options here are practically limitless. For example, you can grab a wristband at Hubbard Inn and enjoy drink specials at some of Chicago’s best bars like Clark Street Ale House, El Hefe, Hopsmith, Spin, and Woodies Flat.

The River North bar crawl will include favorites such as Joy District, Hubbard Inn, Bodega, and more.

Go Irish at Chicago Pubs

Find a great barstool or booth to call home as you are Honorary Irish for a great day of St. Paddy’s celebrating. Chicago restaurants and bars go big with spirits and celebrations to get you into the Irish spirit.

Emmitts Irish Pub was depicted in great movies like Backdraft, Oceans Eleven, Uncle Buck, and US Marshals.  This fireman owned pub was once the home of mobster shenanigans. Emmit’s will be packed with fun with bagpipe players playing while standing atop the bar.

Chief O’Neill’s is off the beaten path on Easton Avenue, but was voted one of the 10 best Irish pubs in the world with great Emerald Isle favorites with food and drink m

The Kerryman on North Clark in River North, and owned by actual Kerrymen, this pub is the real Irish deal with a guaranteed great time to deliberate St. Patrick’s Day.  Make reservations here.

Cork and Kerry! Hang out and be Irish with the south side crowd, where Irish brogues prevail.  You are sure to have a great time with this friendly and fun crew and enjoy awesome Irish fare.

Other notable Irish Pubs are Dublin Bar and Grill,The Fifth Province, and o’Callahans.

Pull up a bar stool with your friends and celebrate like a true Irish all day enjoying great Irish fare, green beer spirits and maybe even do a little Irish jig or river dance if you like!

May I have this dance?

Partygoers and those who love to move their bodies to the rhythm and beat of awesome music will love the St. Paddy’s Day celebrations at Flash. This is the ultimate Lincoln Park club inspired by Andy Warhol’s factory. The DJ sets are said to be out of this world, while you can also enjoy drink specials, and truly let your hair down.

Getting around with ease and simplicity

Whether you’re ready to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago with a friend or two, a few family members, or the whole gang, planning the transportation will certainly be on your to-do list. But don’t let that worry you! Because at Bus Connection, we’ve got you covered. We are perfectly positioned to pick you and the gang up from a location you name and then take you through the city as and where you need it.

Remember that finding parking will be limited over the St. Patrick’s day weekend and not only that, it can get pricey. As an alternative, you can always rely on us for comfortable and convenient transportation through the city as you paint the town green with your loved ones.