With our strong Irish roots, no city celebrates St. Patrick's Day with the fervor of Chicagoans. But not all the festivities are, shall we say, family-friendly. If you're planning on spending St. Pat's with some Leprechaun-sized companions, you can still get in on the shamrock-fueled action. Here are five family-friendly ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Chicago.
Watch the Chicago River being dyed green (March 14, 9:30 a.m.)
Every year, the Chicago River gets dyed a vibrant green by the city's plumber's union. Make sure to point out to your kids the color of the dye before it's dumped into the river; the bright orange powder is magically transformed into green with the help of a legendary Leprechaun. Or so they say. [Insider tip: the best place to "watch the magic" is at the intersection of Columbus and Wabash.]
Celebrate all things Ireland at the Irish American Heritage Center's St. Patrick's Day Festival (March 14, 1 p.m. - midnight)
The Irish American Heritage Center will be hosting a large-scale, family-friendly St. Patrick's Day party featuring traditional and contemporary Irish music and dance, fun kids' activities, an arts and crafts fair, and good eats. For more info, visit irish-american.org.
Enjoy Fish and Chips in an Authentic Irish Pub
Lady Gregory's Irish Bar & Restaurant in Andersonville (5260 North Clark St.) is one of our family's favorite lunch spots. Named after the passionate Irish author, this charming wood-paneled pub focuses on farm-to-table, sustainable, local ingredients and authentic Irish fare. Try to secure a table in the cozy library with a fireplace. Start with the hard cider steamed mussels and move on to the classic fish and chips served with minty peas.
Visit the Art Institute's newest exhibit "Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840"
The Art Institute of Chicago's newest exhibit "Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840," will open on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2015, with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring bagpipes. Celebrate this first major exhibition to showcase the decorative and fine arts of 18th century Ireland on Saturday, March 21 from 10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. at the Family Festival: Ireland. You'll explore the art and culture of Ireland through art-making workshops, storytelling and more in the Ryan Education Center.
See the world class Trinity Irish Dance team in action
Trinity Irish Dance will be hosting a free city-wide Open House on March 7. Meet these exceptional performers at all current and new Trinity locations launching throughout Illinois, pose for selfies with aspiring Irish dancers and learn the first-ever "TriniJig" dance routine. For more info, visit trinityirishdance.com