St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and there’s no better place to celebrate than the Windy City! From the annual dyeing of the Chicago River to the massive parade that takes over the city streets, there’s no shortage of Irish spirit to go around.
In this guide, you’ll find all the information you need to plan your perfect St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Chicago. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly activities or the best bars to grab a pint of Guinness, we’ve got you covered.
So put on your green gear and get ready to join the festivities. Sláinte!
The first time the river was tinted green was in 1962, due to a suggestion from the local plumber’s union. When it first turned green, it stayed green for almost a month. Their formula for the dye remains a secret to this day. Every year, the dyeing begins at 9 a.m. with union members working from different boats and is usually done the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day. The best views for this are located on the bridges between State and Columbus. With a tradition that is nearly half a century old, make sure to cross it off when visiting Chicago.
The Chicago River isn’t the only thing that turns green around St Patrick’s Day. Many buildings such as the Merchandise Mart, Civic Opera House, Board of Trade Building, Soldier Field, Wrigley Building, Gaelic Park, Auditorium Theatre, and 875 North Michigan Avenue have all been known to join in on the festivities as well.
Parades, Block Parties, Live Music & Pub Crawls
St Patrick’s Day Parades
Throughout the day there are several Irish parades such as the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade, South Side Parade, and the Northwest Side Irish Parade. While the Chicago parade is on Saturday, both the Northwest and Southside are on Sunday. These parades all celebrate Ireland’s rich traditions and culture by having troops of Irish step dancers, marching bands bagpipes, colorful floats waving their Irish Flags.
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day at the iconic Lakefront Restaurant, and enjoy stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline with a nice side of Irish music, food, and drinks.
Old St Patrick’s Day is hosting a pop-up Irish Pub from noon to 6:30 pm on March 11th at the corner of Adams & DesPlaines Street in the West Loop. There will be live music, Irish dance, bagpipes, Irish food, kids activities and much more!
One of Chicago’s most notorious Irish bands will be busy for St Patrick’s Day!
On Saturday March 11th they will play three sets at the Citizen M Hotel, starting 1 pm. There will be no cover charge for this.
Between 7:30 and 9:30 pm they will play at Durty Nellies in Palatine. Check the website for details.
On Friday March 17th, St Patrick’s Day, the band will perform two afternoon sets at the Irish Legend in Willow Springs, and an evening set during the St Patrick’s Day Extravaganza at Metro.
Irish Heritage & Culture
Irish roots run deep in Chicago. And what better way to learn this history than at the Irish American Heritage Center? The center offers tours to help bring awareness to Irish culture and traditions through gatherings, festivals, music, theater, literature, and language.
Rooted deep in Irish culture, this neighborhood is proud to display it for all during the St. Patrick’s holiday season. For over 40 years, this neighborhood has been home to the South Side Irish Parade. You can also check out the Shamrock Our Block contest where Beverly residents compete for the best outdoor decorations.
Grab some Grub
For a taste of Ireland in Chicago, feast on a classic dish of corned beef and cabbage—with a side of potatoes and baked Irish soda bread of course. The Corned Beef Factory, operating since 1948, has been named one of the best places to get a corn beef sandwich by the Chicago Tribune.
This location also serves more than just your classic corned beef with spicy dijon mustard. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the “Tom and Jerry,” filled with pastrami and finished with their famous corned beef. Or stick with a classic Reuben sandwich. Either way, be sure to come hungry.
After you’re finished with the savory, move on to something sweet. Cone Gourmet Ice Cream, owned by an Irish-American family, offers a variety of Irish inspired ice creams and other delicious desserts. On our must-try list is their Paddy Melt, a donut and ice cream take on the American classic. You also can’t go wrong with The Shamrock, a soft serve ice cream with Lucky Charms.
Beatrix’s pastry counter is offering assorted St. Paddy’s Day cookies including shamrocks, a pot of gold or a leprechaun hat.
Bub City in River North and Rosemont will offer food and drink specials including a Corned Beef Reuben made with a House-Brined Corned Beef, 1000 Island Dressing, Swiss Cheese and Sauerkraut served on griddled rye with a side of Golden Waffle Fries.
Hub 51 is joining the St. Patrick’s Day festivities with food and drink specials including Potato Debris: Deep Fried Idaho Potatoes, Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, Bacon, Green onion, Crema and a Hot Corned Beef Sandwich made with Vienna Corned Beef, Homemade Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Whole Grain Mustard, Rye Bread.
On to the Pub!
Since Chicago has a rich Irish culture finding an Irish bar is not such a hard thing to do. Here are some of our favorites.
Charm’d – The Magical Irish Pop-Up is an enchanting, over-the-top, multi-room, multi-level magical Irish experience. Featuring wall-to-wall Irish decor, lucky charms, multiple bars, social photo-ops and a whole lot of leprechaun mischief.
Located in Avondale is Chief O’ Neill’s. Named after Francis O’Neill who is known for preserving Irish music in America, this pub keeps Irish tradition alive with Irish beers on tap and traditional Irish performances. It is known for its huge green beer garden and Sunday breakfast buffet.
Stop in for a green beer, Irish food, and some whiskey at this Old Town pub. There will be Irish dancers, bagpipes, and Irish music. The perfect place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish fashion.
In the shadow of Guaranteed Rate Field, the Bridgeport home of the White Sox , lies Cork and Kerry At the Park. The pub features a large beer and drink selection, traditional Irish meals, and other Chicago classic comfort foods.
The newest Irish bar in town is located in the heart of Little Italy. It is the perfect place to enjoy a traditional Irish breakfast (served all day) or fish and chips, with a fresh pint of Guinness or cider of course. The Embassy also happens to be a great place to catch a game!
This bar is in downtown Chicago that features craft beers and cocktails, Irish and American food, green beer, outside dining, and Irish hospitality.
According to many connoisseurs, Fado has the best pint of Guinness in the city. But that’s not all this classic Irish pub has to offer. Try their brilliant European and craft beer lineup, housemade cocktails and tasty pub fare. True to form, Fado is also a popular hangout for fútbol fanatics.
A native of Cork City, Ireland, Paddy Homan is an Irish Tenor who organizes and performs at The Galway Arms Sunday Session every week. Paddy was awarded Best Newcomer of the Decade 2000-2010 by Live Ireland ‘Best of the Decade’ awards and has a fantastic reputation within the Irish community.
This place is full of history. Originally known as McGovern Saloon, it was once a notorious gangster hangout, and in 1987 became the home of the original Chicago punk movement. Today, it’s widely known as Chicago’s liveliest Irish bar, right in the heart of River North. Highly recommended by the local Irishmen and women, the Kerryman is considered a little piece of Ireland right here in the Windy City.
Grab your green and join the team at Raised for a rooftop St. Patrick’s Day party with a show-stopping view of the Chicago River dyeing. On March 11 from 9 – 12 PM, St. Paddy’s Day partiers can kick-start their morning with a three hour open bar, including green beer, mimosas, bloody mary’s, and signature St. Paddy’s Day cocktails. Fill up on Irish breakfast bites and snacks throughout the morning all while enjoying the tune of the bagpipes and dancing to the DJ’s beats. The rooftop terrace will be heated, making for a cozy, picture-perfect morning with a front row seat of the green river. Plus, with plenty of green swag to go around, Raised will be the lucky place to be. Tickets can be purchased here.
Stay the night
Some Chicago hotels offer prime locations on the River, delicious food and joyful festivities for both the river dyeing on March 11th and the holiday, on March 17th.
The Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk offers striking views, Irish-inspired food specials, green beers and Powers Irish coffee and live music. Reserve one of the river view rooms, starting at $256.
The Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown is perfect for families, couples and solo travelers celebrating the holiday. Book one of the hotel’s river view rooms to watch the festivities over the weekend or on the holiday starting at $200. Post river dyeing or on the 17th enjoy a delicious meal at Hoyt’s a modern American tavern, seamlessly fusing reimagined Midwestern comfort food with a warm social vibe.
Though it’s not located right on the river, this hotel is not short on St. Patrick’s Day luck! Aloft Chicago Mag Mile hotel has a service robot named Corgan who will be dressed in green and deliver Guiness and Green River soda to guests’ rooms. The hotel’s bar, W XYZ is also featuring six different festive cocktails throughout the month of March.
Sweat it out
This classic 8K run has been going on for four decades. The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle is a symbol of spring in Chicago. This year is no exception, with the Shamrock Shuffle starting on Sunday, March 26, 2023. The race starts in the Loop and finishes in Grant Park. Registration is on a first-come-first-served basis.
Please do keep in mind local COVID-19 guidelines when celebrating.