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 seven family-friendly ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Chicago.
See a magical transformation at the Traditional Dyeing of the Chicago River
9:00am | Saturday, March 12
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: Arrive early! The best place to "watch the magic" is between Columbus Drive and Wacker Drive.
12:00pm | Saturday, March 12
The annual Downtown Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade kicks off after the river dyeing ceremony at 12:00 noon on March 12. The parade starts at Balbo Avenue and Columbus Drive, and proceeds north on Columbus to Monroe Street. Bagpipers, Irish dancers, festive bands, floats and more make this parade a city favorite.
12pm noon - 12am midnight | Saturday, March 12
Tickets: $15 Adults, FREE for children ages 12 and under
The Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Avenue) will be hosting its annual large-scale, family-friendly St. Patrick's Day Festival featuring traditional and contemporary Irish music and dance, fun kids' activities, an arts and crafts fair, and good eats. Tickets on sale now online.
Lady Gregory's Irish Bar & Restaurant in Andersonville (5260 N. Clark Street) 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.
3:00pm | Saturday, March 12
Tickets: $49.90 per adult, $29.95 for children ages 3-12
Dress in your greenest duds and hit the high seas of Lake Michigan on the Spirit of Chicago's St. Patrick's Day afternoon lunch cruise. You'll enjoy a scenic, 2-hour boat ride, festive music, dancing and a festive buffet featuring all your Irish faves, including corned beef and cabbage. The cruise boards at 3:00 pm at Navy Pier on Saturday, March 12.
10:00am - 8:00pm | Saturday, March 12
Suggested Donation $5
Hard Rock Cafe Chicago (63 W. Ontario) rings in the luck of the Irish with a free, family friendly St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Live music by The Hat Guys and bagpipe performances by The Shannon Rovers will get the party started, while a heated tent will host kid-approved activities including face painting and balloon artists. Best of all, the event, with its suggested $5 donation per person, will raise funds and awareness for Misericordia, a Chicago-based non-profit organization that provides a continuum of care for 600 children and adults with developmental disabilities.
See Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour
Tuesday, April 5 - Sunday, April 10
Tickets: Starting at $27
If these holiday highlights aren't enough, browse this St. Patrick's Day 2016 Guide for more ways to go on a green spree in Chicago.