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. In March, 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 2017 St. Patrick's Day events in Chicago below.

Downtown Parade & River Dyeing

St. Patrick's Day Parade River Dyeing

Dyeing of the Chicago River

Saturday, March 11 Time: 9:00 am Location: Chicago River (Columbus Dr. & Wacker Dr.) 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.
St. Patrick's Day Parade

Downtown Parade

Saturday, March 11 Time: 12:00 pm Location: Columbus Drive (between Balbo Dr. & Monroe Dr.) 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 62nd anniversary this year with the theme Irish Immigration: A New World of Opportunity. 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.

Neighborhood Celebrations

Irish American Heritage Center St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Festival at Irish American Heritage Center

Saturday, March 11 Time: 12:00 noon - 12:00 midnight Location: Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave.) Tickets: $12-$15 adults; free for children 12 & under On Saturday, March 11, head north to the Irish American Heritage Center after the downtown Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade for one of Chicago's biggest St. Patrick's Day celebrations. This family-oriented event features traditional and contemporary Irish music with dance, food and drink for purchase, children’s activities and vendors selling Irish gifts. Visit the Library, Art Gallery and Museum for programming and exhibits, such as Irish language lessons, a genealogy workshop and a book sale. Entertainment includes the Irish Heritage Singers, the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, O’Hare School of Irish Dance and more!
St. Patrick's Day Chicago

South Side Irish Parade

Sunday, March 12 Time: 12:00 pm Location: Western Avenue (between 103rd St. & 115th St.) 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.
St. Patrick's Day Chicago

Northwest Side Irish Parade

Sunday, March 12 Time: 12:00 pm Location: Onahan School (6634 W. Raven St.) 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, beer, wine, soda, and live entertainment.
St. Patrick's Day Celebration at Irish American Heritage Center

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

Friday, March 17 Time: 12:00 noon - 12:00 midnight Location: Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave.) Tickets: $10 adults; free for children 12 & under The fun continues at the Irish American Heritage Center with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration on Friday, March 17. The day-long celebration in the Fifth Province pub features live music, dance, food and drink for purchase and face painting for children. Entertainment includes the Chancey Brothers, the Dirty Wellies and Trinity Irish Dancers.

Special Events & Performances

Gaelic Storm

Gaelic Storm

Friday, March 10 & Saturday, March 11 Time: 7:30 pm Location: House of Blues Chicago (329 N. Dearborn St.) Tickets: $36-$60 After nearly two decades and more than 3,000 live shows, Gaelic Storm — the chart-topping, multi-national Celtic band — performs at House of Blues Chicago for two days.
Get ShamRocked


Friday, March 10 & Saturday, March 11 Time: Friday 8:00-10:00 pm | Saturday 10:00 am - 8:00 pm Location: Hard Rock Cafe Chicago (63 W. Ontario St.) FREE (suggested donation $5 on Saturday) As the city dyes the river green in annual tradition, Hard Rock Cafe Chicago invites revelers to ring in the luck of the Irish on Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11, for the ninth annual Get ShamROCKED bash. The free St. Patrick’s Day celebration features live music, bagpipe performances, activities for the whole family, Irish fare, green beer and more.
ShamROCK Chicago GREENing


Friday, March 10 - Friday, 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 #SHAMROCKCHICAGO. ShamROCK Chicago will choose the GREENest photos and feature them on social media.
Wendella's St. Patrick's Day Cruise - Image

Wendella's St. Patrick's Day Cruise

Saturday, March 11 Time: 9:00-11:00 am Location: Wendella Sightseeing Boats (400 N. Michigan Ave.) Tickets: $60 View the annual dyeing of the Chicago River from one of Wendella Sightseeing Boats' vessels and experience a Chicago tradition! Unlike their traditional tours, this cruise does not include a narrated tour, but instead features festive Irish music. A full-service bar, including green beer is available on board. Please note this event is for adults only (ages 21+).
St. Patrick's Day Chicago

Shoreline Sightseeing St. Patrick's Day Lunch Cruises

Saturday, March 11 Times: 10:00 am, 12:00 pm & 2:00 pm Location: Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) Tickets: $59 (adults), $49 (children 3-12) Shoreline Sightseeing's 11th annual St. Patrick's Day Cruises return on Saturday, March 11 with three departures before, during and after the downtown Chicago parade. The 75-minute cruises feature a traditional Irish buffet of corned beef and cabbage with all the trimmings plus a full-service cash bar including Irish beverage selections. A special presentation by one of Shoreline's entertaining guides will highlight the contributions of the Irish community to the growth of Chicago.
Spirit of Chicago

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

Saturday, March 11 Time: 3:00 pm Location: Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) Tickets: $52.90 (adults), $31.95 (children 3-12) 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 lunch menu with Corn Beef & Cabbage in addition to Green Beer available for purchase. Celebrate with music, dancing and St. Patrick's Day decorations with the city skyline as your backdrop.
Mystic Blue Boathouse

Mystic Blue St. Patrick's Day Dinner Cruise

Saturday, March 11 Time: 6:30 pm Location: Navy Pier (600 E. Grand Ave.) Tickets: from $104.90 Chicago’s best St. Patrick’s Day party is on the water! Corral your crew and hop aboard Mystic Blue in your best green gear out on Lake Michigan for this three hour dinner cruise. Celebrate the luck of the Irish and enjoy a freshly prepared St. Patty’s Day dinner buffet, green beer and amazing skyline views, plus dancing and onboard entertainment galore.
Trinity Irish Dancers

Siamsa na nGael: Celtic Celebration

Tuesday, March 14 Time: 7:30 pm Location: Symphony Center (220 S. Michigan Ave.) Tickets: $30-$60 The 21st Siamsa na nGael celebration, featuring Celtic song, dance and story-telling, will kick off St. Patrick’s Day week. This year’s event, A Bridge Over the Troubles: The Peacemakers, will tell the story of John Hume for his involvement in the peace process in Northern Ireland that led to the signing of the Good Friday Peace Accord on April 10, 1998. The story of will be told by the Metropolis Symphony Orchestra, the 100-voice Old St. Patrick’s Concert Choir, Trinity Irish Dancers and others.
Traditional Irish Music at the Driehaus Museum - Image

Traditional Irish Music at the Driehaus Museum

Thursday, March 16 Time: 6:00 pm Location: Driehaus Museum (40 E. Erie St.) Tickets: $30 Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the company of one of Ireland’s leading traditional Irish tenors as Paddy Homan and the Noble Call take you on a journey through the country’s rich history in story and song.
Forever Green

Forever Green 42

Friday, March 17 Time: 6:30 pm Location: Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) Tickets: $60 Forever Green is one of Chicago's largest and longest running St. Patrick's Day celebrations in Chicago and celebrates its 42nd anniversary in 2017 at a new venue, the Chicago Cultural Center. Join the fun with Irish music, dancing, and craic (Gaelic for fun and amusement).
Metro Chicago

The Tossers

Friday, March 17 Time: 9:00 pm Location: Metro (3730 N. Clark St.) Tickets: $16-$20 On St. Patricks' Day, head to Metro in Wrigleyville to see Chicago’s reigning pub punk heroes, The Tossers. These Southside Chicagoans, whose members were largely born and raised in an Irish Catholic enclave, use traditional Celtic instrumentation with a snotty, punk rock edge. Wherever you hail from, when The Tossers take the stage, you’ll become Irish faster than you could say “More whiskey, please."

Book A Trip