Irish For a Day

Not sure what to do for St. Patrick’s Day? No worries – my good friend Meghan Lee will hook you up. She lives for the season and she’s the best tour guide for a fantastic day in the city with family or friends…..enjoy!

As the resident leprechaun in our group of friends, Cathy has asked me to contribute to her blog regarding St. Patrick’s Day events. Chicago comes alive to celebrate one of it’s favorite holidays, with a variety of events and entertainment all centered around the wearin’ o’ the green.

These events are all located in Chicago, some of them are family-friendly, some are adults-only, but all of them are guaranteed FUN and a great way to celebrate the holiday whether you’re Irish or just “Irish for a day”.


ST. PATRICK’S DAY PARADE-March 12, downtown

In Chicago, the downtown parade is the official celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The parade will be on March 12th this year, as it is always held the Saturday preceding the actual holiday (March 17th). The parade steps off at noon at the corner of Columbus and Balbo and continues north to Columbus and Monroe (ends behind the Art Institute).

The viewing stand is directly in front of the Buckingham Fountain, which is where most of the action (and crowds) will be. The Shannon Rovers bagpipe band lead the parade, which includes Irish dancers, Irish Wolfhounds, Irish musicians, the St. Patrick’s Day Queen, politicians, national high school bands, churches, charities and more! Put on your green and head to the best parade in the city! Mayor Richard & Maggie Daley will lead the way as the Grand Marshals of the parade.

Take public transportation if you can. For further details, visit the official website:

GREEN CHICAGO RIVER-March 12, downtown

The river is dyed green each year to commemorate one of the city’s favorite holidays. At 10am, boats stir up the dye and you can watch as the water magically changes to a fluorescent green. There is great viewing of the dying from the Michigan Avenue or Columbus Street bridges. It’s an easy walk from the river to the parade, so you can go before you hit the parade route.

More info:


Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for a great cause! An easy walk from the parade route, the Mercy Home party is at the Hilton and Towers on Michigan and Balbo. There will be live Irish music, Irish dancers, Irish food and drink! This is a really fun event for the whole family, the kids love jumping around to the music and dancers.

Tickets and information:

ST. PATRICK’S DAY FESTIVAL-March 12, northside

This annual event is held at the cultural mecca Irish American Heritage Center. A full day of top notch Irish music, dancers and food plus children’s activities. You’ll hear many Irish accents throughout the IAHC, and you’ll experience an authentic day of celebration.

For more info and tickets:


This celebration is a full day, starting with mass at 10:30am, at the center for the South Side Irish in Chicago. Irish music, buffet and dancers along with children’s activities will keep the crowds entertained.

More info:


If you couldn’t make it downtown on the 12th, or just need to wear your green parade gear one more time, this neighborhood puts on a great parade to celebrate the holiday.

More info:

SIAMSA NA NGAEL-March 16, downtown

This event is hosted by Old St. Patrick’s Church and is an evening of beautiful Irish entertainment at the CSO. Narrated by Martin Sheen, the evening includes traditional music, dancing and storytelling as is the history of the Irish culture. (pronounced Sheemsa Nuh-Gaahl)


A entire day of celebration, starting with mass at 11:30am, in honor of the actual holiday. Take the kids out of school for the day (that’s the way it was done when WE were kids!!) and celebrate your wonderful Irish heritage.


*Note: almost every bar downtown will be crowded on Parade Day. If you plan to hit the pubs during the day, have at least 2 or 3 in mind in case you don’t feel like dealing with the crowds and you can switch locations.

FOREVER GREEN-March 11, downtown

Hosted by the Young Irish Fellowship Club, Forever Green is the city’s LARGEST St. Patrick’s Day party, held in the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom. Your ticket includes 5 hours of live music, bagpipers, dancers and lots of beer and a guaranteed good time.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY DINNER-March 11, downtown

Hosted by the Irish Fellowship Club, this formal event is a lovely way to get into the spirit of the season without the inundation of crowds and green beer. This event is held in the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton and Towers and includes a sit down dinner and dancing. Mayor Richard M. & Maggie Daley will be honored at this event.

EMERALD LOOP-March 12, downtown

For those looking for an adult crowd after the parade, head east to Emerald Loop (Wacker & Wabash) for a full day of Irish music, dancers and all the green beer you care to have.

LIZZIE McNEILL’S-March 12, downtown

Lizzie’s is one of the best post-parade bars to hit, as it is located on the river just east of Columbus. You can go see the green river, then head down to ground level and make your way to the bar. You can’t miss it, since they have blocked off the street with multiple tents. No Irish music at this venue, it is all about the party. Lines tend to be long for entry and bathrooms, so be prepared to be patient.

BUTCH McGUIRE’S-March 12, downtown

The Irish mayor of Division Street has passed away, but his bar is still one of the best places to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. The overhead train track is transformed into shamrocks and leprechauns, and green beer is served in the giant steins. You can even rent the only booth in the entire bar!

THE ABBEY-March 12, northside

You can take a bus from The Abbey to the downtown parade or just arrive later for a full day of great Irish rock, bagpipers and dancers.

ALTAN & LÚNASA-March 13, northside

A spirited concert with some of the best contemporary Irish musicians on the scene will be at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

And if that isn’t quite what you’re looking for, you can check the Metromix page of St. Patrick’s Day events, as this is continuously being updated:,33?date_type=all&date_range=

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! Sláinte

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