Our Ultimate Guide will help you with your St. Patricks Day celebrations, irrespective of whether you are a local or a visitor to Chicago.
St.Patrick’s Day or St. Patty’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17.
Every year on March 17th, parts of the world turn green in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, St Patrick.
The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 years.
Why is St.Patrick’s Day so famous in the America?
A lot of festivities occur all over the globe on this day.
This including huge parades, green everywhere and an alarming number of people dressed as leprechauns during St. Patty’s Day.
While you might be thinking Ireland is where the party is the largest, it’s actually America that hosts the biggest celebrations.
There are festivals all across the country from San Francisco to New Orleans.In our city of Chicago the river is dyed green.
The parade through New York City sees around two million people attend every year.That’s over four times as many as Dublin.
Congratulations, for making it through the bitter winter!
Brace yourself for the “Green Scene”!
The iconic event of the city, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this weekend.
There is nothing like St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago!
The Irish restaurants are filled with revelers, cultural events appear everywhere and the Chicago river shimmers in vivid hues of green.
The History of the St.Patrick’s Day Festival in Chicago
Diaspora : The term diaspora comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “to scatter about.”
And that’s exactly what the people of a diaspora do — they scatter from their homeland to places across the globe, spreading their culture as they go.
People have been leaving Ireland for centuries, creating Irish communities, or what’s known as ‘the Irish diaspora’, all over the world.
It’s estimated seventy million people worldwide have Irish ancestry – just 6.5 million of them live in Ireland!
Emigration has many causes, but the one that helps explain the large Irish presence in America goes back to the 1800s.
At the time, many Irish were suffering persecution at the hands of the British state.
Irish Catholics were restricted from owning land and voting and the standard of living for lots of people was extremely low.
These factors contributed to emigration, but things got worse with the devastating potato famine between 1845 and 1852.
For large numbers of the Irish population, potatoes were an essential part of their diet, because they were cheap to grow and packed full of nutrients.
Disaster struck when a fungal disease called potato blight spread across the country wiping the potato crop out, made worse by a lack of action or help from the British government.
Many Irish died and many others decided to move and rebuild their lives elsewhere.
The American dream
Although Irish citizens emigrated to many other places around the globe, the main destination was the USA.
However, life was still hard after making the journey across the pond.
Some Americans at the time viewed Irish immigrants as violent and disease-ridden and accused them of stealing their jobs.
This led to widespread discrimination against Irish citizens in the USA; it wasn’t uncommon to see signs banning Irish people from entering certain buildings, or job adverts discouraging Irish applicants.
Against this backdrop of adversity Ireland’s national day became one of the most famed across the globe.
At home in Ireland, St Patrick’s Day was a modest day of religious observance, culminating in a feast.
However, in the face of their ill treatment, Irish Catholics in America decided to throw huge, proud parties on the 17th March to celebrate their heritage and show pride in who they were.
St Patrick’s Day celebrations had existed in the USA since the 1600s, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that they became the huge festivals that we know and love today.
St. Patrick’s Day Events in Chicago
In Chicago, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are more than 175 years old.
It’s a long time tradition in Chicago, which began in 1844 with the Irish Parade which became a city event in the 1950’s.
A dyeing process on the Chicago River began in 1962 and soon became a major event in Chicago.
The city of Chicago and the suburbs, hosts many memorable events including parades, Irish parties and an 8K race through the Loop, as part of St. Patty’s Day celebration.
Join in the fun, dressed in your best green and watch the famed St. Patrick’s Day parade.
May the luck of the Irish be with you !An Ultimate Guide to St.Patrick's Day Events in Chicago Click To Tweet
Take your hooligan tribes for a holiday, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year at several locations, presented by social scenes, Irish jigs,DJ’s and live bands.
Dyeing the Chicago River Green
Pouring the vegetable based dye into the Chicago river has been a tradition since 1963 by the representatives of the Journeymen Plumbers Local Union.
They turn it an emerald shade of green in celebration of the Irish spirit. The green color stays for about a week and then the river returns to its normal murky shade.
The dyeing takes place between Columbus Drive and State Street. If you want to catch the best views, head to the Michigan Avenue bridge or snag a spot along the Riverwalk .
The Chicago river will run green and you will see more than a few leprechauns bar crawling early in the morning.
Recommended viewing spots
- the riverwalk between Michigan and Columbus,
- the west side of Columbus,
- and all along Lower and Upper Wacker Drive between Michigan and Columbus.
Arriving half hour early might guarantee you a safe spot to watch the river dyeing , later on in the day, the crowds can get a little overwhelming.
Chicago’s St.Patrick’s Day Parade
After the Chicago River is dyed green, the city’s big St. Patty’s Day celebration moves to Grant Park for a parade along Columbus Drive. This year, it is going to be held on Saturday the 11th of March, 2023.
If you want to catch one of the largest events in the country with bagpipes, drum corps, Irish dancers and politicians you are at the right festive procession.
The parade marches north from Balbao Drive to Monroe Street, with a viewing stand situated in front of Buckingham Fountain.
Public Transportation highly recommended
BLUE OR RED LINES : Exit train at any of the loop stops and walk east to Columbus Drive.
BROWN,GREEN OR ORANGE LINES : Exit at any of the stops along Wabash and walk East to Columbus Drive.
METRA : Exit Union Station and walk 7 blocks East to Columbus Drive.
BUS : Check CTA for best instructions to downtown Chicago.
From North or NorthWest : Enter Downtown Chicago via I-94, you can exit and go East at Washington, Monroe or Congress Pkwy.Look for Parking at either Wells or Wabash.
From West : Take 290 East onto Congress Pkwy. Look for parking before you get to Michigan Ave, there will be plenty on the right.
From the South or SouthWest : Take I-94 into the Loop, exit at Congress Pkwy, Monroe or Washington.Look for parking at Wells or Wabash.
Irish American Heritage Center
Channel the spirit of the Irish by celebrating their food, dance and live music at the Irish American
Heritage center which will be filled with Irish vendors selling gifts and crafts and children’s activities.
The Bottom Line
St. Patty’s Day in Chicago is definitely a party of a lifetime! Visit our beautiful city for the St.Patrick’s Day celebrations this year.
Tell us about the most memorable party of your life?
If you are thinking which one, you must make it to this one, we bet you will have a lot to write home about 🙂
Like the Irish say, “Bring on the shenanigans !”
St.Patrick’s Day or St. Patty’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17.
Our Ultimate Guide will help you with your St. Patricks Day celebrations, irrespective of whether you are a local or a visitor to Chicago for the party.
Congratulations, for making it through the bitter winter!
Brace yourself for the "Green Scene"!
The iconic event of the city, St. Patrick's Day is coming up this weekend.
There is nothing like St. Patrick's Day in Chicago when the Irish restaurants are filled with revelers, cultural events appear everywhere and the Chicago river shimmers in vivid hues of green.
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I miss this celebration! We live in the suburbs and was so finally looking forward to bringing our older kids down to see it – and then pandemic. One day!
Totally understand. Hopefully, next year the pandemic is totally gone & we all get to celebrate our fun festivities once again.
How fun! I’d love to visit Chicago.
You will have so many fun places to see and fun things to do, when you visit.
Great info!! I like the background information!
Thank you. So glad to know you found our blog post informative & helpful.
I’ve lived in the Chicago area for most of my life and have never been to the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Can you believe that???
If this warm weather continues and we’re allowed to gather, this may be my year to go!
Wow! that’s surprising coz invariably, you will be pulled into the energy of festivities & fun the minute you spot a little green around you.It is getting warmer this weekend, hopefully it stays that way till St. Patty’s Day, but this year it might be all low key due to the pandemic.Perhaps, next year you will join the fun celebrations & actually get to enjoy every bit of it.
I didn’t know Chicago had such a big St. Patrick’s day. Looks like fun. Enjoyed the history lesson.
Thank you.Happy to share one of the major fun & traditional events of our beautiful city.A bit of history always helps in knowing how it all started 😉
I’m determined to see the green river one day! It looks like so much fun!
You definitely must, if you haven’t.It sure is a sight to behold!
Looks like a fun party that can’t be missed!
I would love to see the river green one day. Such a cool experience!
If you haven’t visited our beautiful city, it definitely is a fun time to visit during the St. Patty’s day celebrations.Yes, it is a lovely experience to see the entire river green & people flocking on either side of the river in their best Irish green & cheer.Lots of parades & partying goes on during this time.
Thanks for the interesting and educational post. I was wondering why this day is so big in US and now I got all the answers and more.
You are most welcome. Gad to know you found our blog post informative & interesting.Do sign up to subscribe for much such interesting blog posts to land right into your inbox every week. Once the cold winter, is done, we have so many “happening things”in our city. Enjoy!
I remember seeing the river dyed green in the Harrison Ford movie “The Fugitive”!
Yup! Watching it live is a different kind of fun. Hope our blog post has inspired you to visit our city and watch it for real.Enjoy!
Fun celebration ideas!
Indeed! A sign of spring rolling in & the fun starting all over!
I have always been fascinated with Irish History, though St. Patricks is only casually observed on the Island I think it could be a beautiful, vibrant event to be apart of
When you are a part of the celebrations that happen on that day, you simply get pulled into that happy cheerful energy and their pride in carrying in the tradition.A fun event you will remember for a long time, be it the parades, the parties or watching the river turn green.
I’d love to see the festivities in person! Looks like fun!
It most definitely is. This year with the pandemic scene everything is low key, but I’m sure it will be as vibrant or more in the future. It would be a great time to plan a trip to our city, if you haven’t visited yet. Enjoy!
I love it how everyone is Irish on St Patty’s day 🙂
Once COVID is over I’m gonna have to hit up Chicago for St. Patty’s Day!
Believe me, you will have so much fun, when you visit during this time of the year. That said, aren’t we all waiting for this pandemic to be over soon? It is time for us to gather with friends & loved ones to celebrate life once again.
I’ve always wanted to see the Chicago River green! I’ve heard Chicago is awesome on St. Patrick’s Day!
It most definitely is. If you haven’t visited our city during this time, it would be a great time to plan your visit during St. Patty’s in the future.You will take home a whole load of fun memories from the event & the celebrations.
Chicago is a fun town! I loved shopping trips there when I lived in Lansing, MI
Yes, most definitely.So many fun things to do, see & enjoy.
This reminds me a bit of Savannah, they dyed the river there green too!
How fun! Perhaps one day, will visit there during St. Patty’s. It definitely is a cool experience to watch the river turn green.
I Loved Chicago and would love to see the river dyed green! Thats gotta be cool to witness.
Indeed, it is. People flock up early along the river, just to witness the sight & then off course join the parties & the parades that follow.Perhaps, plan a future trip to our city during St. Patty’s?
I haven’t been to a St. Paddy’s day parade before but I’d really like to attend one this year! Chicago’s looks awesome! I love when they dye the river 🙂
This year owing to the pandemic a lot of events have been cancelled or postponed, but I would definitely plan one in the future, if I were you.It is definitely worth watching & so much fun to be a part of.