St. Patrick's Day Chicago 2016

Celebrate Irish culture & tradition throughout Chicago this spring
From raucous pub crawls to lively parades and family-friendly festivals, there is no doubt about it: There's nothing quite like St. Patrick's Day in Chicago. From March to April, it's a holiday when the Irish taverns are packed, jovial crowds jam the city streets and the Chicago River sparkles brilliant shades of emerald green.

Throughout the month, both locals and visitors alike go green all across town in celebration of Irish culture and tradition. See the city's famous skyline join in the spirit as the towering skyscrapers illuminate with color too.

Between the neighborhood festivities, downtown river boat tours and Celtic performances — and of course the highlight of the holiday, the Loop parade and river dyeing ceremony — there is no shortage of ways to celebrate.

Browse the list of 2016 St. Patrick's Day events in Chicago below.


Dyeing of the Chicago River

Saturday, March 12
  • Time: 9:00 am
  • Location: Chicago River (Columbus Drive & Wacker Drive)
  • FREE
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

Saturday, March 12
  • Time: 12:00 noon
  • Location: Columbus Drive (between Balbo Drive & Monroe Drive)
  • FREE
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.


St. Patrick's Festival at Irish American Heritage Center

Saturday, March 12
  • Time: 1:00 pm - 12:00 midnight
  • Location: Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Avenue)
  • Tickets: $12-15 adults; free for children 12 & under
Head north to the Irish-American Heritage Center, a lively 86,000 sq. ft. hub that contains a museum, library, art gallery and performance stage. Their annual family-friendly event includes contemporary and traditional Irish music and dancing (from the Trinity Irish Dancers, Irish Heritage Singers and more), kids activities, an Arts and Crafts Fair, and food and drinks — all under one roof.


South Side Irish Parade

Sunday, March 13
  • Time: 12:00 noon
  • Location: Western Avenue (between 103rd & 115th Street)
  • FREE
An old favorite returns to Chicago’s South Side with a focus on family and Irish heritage. The Beverly neighborhood parade steps off at noon from 103rd Street and proceeds down Western Avenue to 115th Street. Line the route with 150,000 fellow revelers to watch the bands, dance troupes and parade queen, or stop inside the neighborhood bars to raise a pint with the locals. And just before the parade, the Emerald Isle Mile, a one-mile race, kicks things off at 11:30 am.

Northwest Side Irish Parade

Sunday, March 13
  • Time: 12:00 noon
  • Location: Onahan School (6634 W. Raven Street)
  • FREE
Enjoy this fun-filled community event that celebrates faith, family and Irish heritage, and this year, a special tribute to community-based efforts on behalf of veterans and military families. The parade winds through the Norwood Park neighborhood, beginning at William J. Onahan School running south on Neola Avenue to Northwest Highway, then heading north on Northwest Highway up to Harlem Avenue. Stay for an after-party from 1:00-5:00 pm that includes a Danny Boy Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner, Eli's Cheescake, beer, wine, soda, and live entertainment.


St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Irish American Heritage Center

Thursday, March 17
  • Time: 12:00 noon - 8:00 pm
  • Location: Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Avenue)
  • Tickets: $10 adults; free for children 12 & under
The Irish-American Heritage Center continues their celebration with a day-long event. Children and their families can look forward to live music, dance, food and drink for purchase and face painting.



Tuesday, March 1 - Thursday, March 17
  • Location: Citywide
  • FREE
Join ShamROCK Chicago and Tourism Ireland to promote Chicago as the "GREENest City in the World." ShamROCK Chicago was launched in 2012 to highlight the strong Irish influence in the great city of Chicago and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. From March 10-17, see Chicago buildings and icons light up GREEN in support of the fun. You can join the celebration — and be featured on ShamROCK's Facebook and Twitter pages — by taking a GREEN Selfie with #shamROCK beginning Friday, March 1. ShamROCK Chicago will choose the GREENest photos and feature them on social media.

Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games

Wednesday, March 2
  • 7:30 pm
  • Location: The Chicago Theatre (175 N. State St.)
  • $29.50-$149.50
Trailblazing Irish dancer Michael Flatley is the creator of the internationally-recognizable brand Lord of the Dance which singlehandedly brought Irish Dance to a global audience with productions in countless countries around the world for over two decades. Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games features a troupe of Irish Dance’s most accomplished performers, as well as exciting and ground-breaking new technology, including holographs, special effects lighting, dancing robots, world champion acrobats and, of course, the greatest team of Irish Dancers in the world.

Forever Green Celebration with Young Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago

Friday, March 4
  • Time: 6:30 pm
  • Location: Park West (322 W. Armitage Avenue)
  • Tickets: $55-75
Forever Green is one of Chicago's largest and longest running St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago and celebrates its 41st anniversary in 2016! Join the fun with Irish music, dancing, and craic (Gaelic for fun and amusement).


Old St. Pat's: Siamsa na nGael

Tuesday, March 8
  • Time: 7:30 pm
  • Location: Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave.)
  • Tickets: $30-60
Siamsa na nGael has become a well-known and anticipated event in Chicago, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day by presenting unique, world-class Celtic entertainment. This year's program, The Women of the Rising: Pathways to Peace, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the “Rising” when Ireland declared its independence from England and will feature performances by some of the finest Celtic artists in Chicago and throughout the world.


Shoreline Sightseeing St. Patrick's Day Lunch Cruises

Saturday, March 12
  • Times: 10:00 am, 12:00 pm & 2:00 pm
  • Location: Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.)
  • Tickets: $59
These popular cruises include a traditional Irish buffet, cash bar and a 75-minute tour of all three branches of the Chicago River. Feast on favorites including Corned Beef and Cabbage and Bread Pudding, and toast to the holiday with Irish beers, a Bloody Mary or Irish Coffee. Professional docents will entertain with stories of how the Irish shaped modern Chicago while you enjoy the scenic views. Cruises are scheduled before, during and after the downtown Chicago parade.


Spirit of Chicago St. Patrick's Day Afternoon Lunch Cruise

Saturday, March 12
  • Time: 3:00 pm
  • Location: Shoreline Sightseeing dock at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.)
  • Tickets: from $49.90 adults; $29.95 children
There will be a sea of green aboard the Spirit of Chicago lunch cruise. Take to the waters of Lake Michigan on a scenic 2-hour boat ride that boards at 3:00 pm and cruises from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. Enjoy a festive buffet (from corned beef & cabbage to creamed corn & cheddar cheese casserole), order a few green beers, and celebrate with music and dancing with the city skyline as your backdrop.


Riverdance – The 20th Anniversary World Tour

Tuesday, April 5 - Sunday, April 10
  • Times vary
  • Location: Cadillac Palace Theatre (151 W. Randolph St.)
  • $30-85
For over 20 years, nothing has carried the energy, the sensuality and the spectacle of Riverdance. Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour will feature new costumes, new lighting, new projections and the addition of a brand new number, “Anna Livia,” featuring the female members of the Irish dance troupe in an acapella hard-shoe number. Don't miss this limited one-week engagement!

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