2019 guide to St. Patrick's Day Celebrations in Chicago
St. Patrick's Day in Chicago is epic! So epic, it's known around the world as one of the best places to celebrate the holiday.
Last year, I had the honor of being Google's "Local Guide" for St. Patrick's Day weekend in Chicago. Basically, that mean Google flew out a five-person production crew to take photos and videos as I showed them Chicago's St. Patrick's Day festivities.
While the main event is dyeing the Chicago River green, there are plenty of ways to celebrate in the city. In this post, I'm sharing the best ways to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Chicago -- including the festivities I covered with the Google crew -- which you can see in the video below!
St. Patrick's Day Celebration is Saturday
One important note: the city's big celebration takes place Saturday, March 16, 2019, which is the day before the actual holiday.
1. Chicago River Dyeing
Every year since 1962, members of the Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 dye the Chicago River green. This annual tradition has become known around the world and put Chicago on the map as one of the greatest places to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Where to Watch the River Dyeing
The river dying happens between Columbus Drive and State Street, and people line up along the river to watch it unfold. Here are some of the best spots to watch the transformation:
- Michigan Avenue Bridge
- Along the Riverwalk between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Drive
- Upper and Lower Wacker Drive between Columbus and Lake Shore Drive
- A rooftop bar overlooking the river, like the London House Chicago Hotel (85 E. Wacker Dr.), which opens at 7 a.m for the event.
When does the River Dyeing Start?
The dyeing process of the river takes place at 9 AM on Saturday, March 16, 2019 and lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. Depending on the weather, crowds will start forming around the river as early as an hour before the event.
2. Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade
Following the Chicago River dyeing on March 16, 2019, the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade begins along Columbus Drive. It's one of the largest St. Patrick's Day parades in the country. You can expect Irish dancers, bag pipes, and politicians marching in the parade. There typically aren't many creative floats that really wow, but the procession is an annual tradition in Chicago and a wholesome way to celebrate the holiday with the community.
How to Watch the Parade
The parade begins at noon on March 16th, 2019. It heads north from Balbo and Columbus intersection in the South Loop and goes to Monroe Street. Line up along the street to save a spot. There is also a viewing stand in front of Buckingham Fountain.
3. Party at Irish Pubs
Like it or not, Chicagoans consume a ton of booze on St. Patrick's Day. Many bars and Irish pubs open their doors as early as 7am on Saturday. You can expect breakfast specials, green beer and live music to mark the occasion. You can also expect cover charges for many of the parties. Here are some of the popular Irish Pubs to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Chicago:
- The Kerryman in River North is hosting a party from 8-11 a.m. on Saturday.
- Emerald Loop, an Irish Pub with an outdoor patio just off Wacker Drive opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday with bagpipes and Irish dancers.
- Fado Irish Pub in River North opens at 7:15 a.m. on Saturday with a party.
- Butch McGuire's in the Gold Coast is a legendary bar and opens its doors at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
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4. Rent Your a Trolley
Of course, you can rent your own trolley at any point throughout the year, but what better way to see the city on St. Patrick's Day than crusin' around in a private trolley with your favorite people. Some friends and I did this one year and had a blast! It's great because you can watch the outdoor festivities unfold while having your own space to celebrate. We hopped around to a few bars and also just partied in the trolly. Second City Trolly offers rates for St. Patrick's Day in Chicago.
5. Irish American Heritage Center
Every year, the Irish American Heritage center throws a huge celebration to mark St. Patrick's Day. The fun kicks off after the Chicago St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday and goes until midnight. You can enjoy traditional and contemporary Irish music, Irish dance, food, drinks and Irish gifts. There are plenty of children’s activities and an Arts and Craft Fair as well. The center's library, art gallery and museum is open during the celebration as well. Tickets are $15 for adults. Kids 12 and under are free. Buy tickets online for discounted pricing: www.irish-american.org.
Have a blast whatever you do for this year's St. Patrick's Day celebration in Chicago, and take it easy on the green beers! 🙂 Also, be sure to pin this post!
You might also like this post about the Best Happy Hours in River North.