MAR 2022

Experience Chicago's vibrant St. Paddy's Day with our insider guide.

Searching for the ultimate St. Patrick’s Day experience in Chicago but lost in a sea of options? 

You're not alone. 

Here at Fox in a Box Chicago Escape Room, we've done the legwork to bring you the crème de la crème of celebrations. 

Dive into our guide to the top events for St. Paddy's Day 2024 and gear up for an unforgettable day draped in green!

The best ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the heart of Chicago.

Top St. Paddy's Day 2024 activities in The Windy City, from parades to pub crawls.

  • The dyeing of the Chicago River

  • The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade

  • Go on a St. Paddy’s Day river cruise

  • St. Patrick’s Fest at the Irish American Heritage Center

  • The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day parade

  • The Northwest Side Irish Parade

  • Festive cuisine and cocktails

  • Shamrock'n 

  • Shamrock Shuffle

  • Charm’d

The dyeing of the Chicago River

The Chicago River turns green for St. Patrick's Day.

A must-see St. Patrick's Day tradition in Chicago. Image by sam99929 from Pixabay.

Other cities paint their roads green for St. Patrick’s Day. We in Chicago dye our river green.

The first time the river was dyed green was in 1962, based on a suggestion by the plumbers’ union. And it’s become a Chicago St. Patrick’s tradition since.

Earlier the river used to remain green for months…now, however, the color starts to fade within hours.

So you better get to your favorite spot along the River (between State and Columbus) on time to catch a glimpse of the action.

Tip: If you’re thinking of capturing the event for your social media, I’d suggest grabbing a spot on one of the bridges rather than along the sides of the river, giving you a more sweeping view of the event.

Dates: 10 AM on Saturday, March 16th. Arriving ahead of time would be a good idea.

Website: Visit the website.

The Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade

Crowds celebrate at the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Join the vibrant Chicago St. Paddy's Day Parade, a city highlight. Image by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash.

Once the dyeing of the River is over, the action shifts to Grant Park for the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

The parade begins a couple of hours after the dyeing and will proceed down Columbus Drive from Balboa Drive to Monroe Street.

This is one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country.

And this year, the parade has a noble theme - mental health, #mentalhealthisessential.

Be prepared to be caught up in a sea of green and a fervor of celebration as the parade steps forward, led by The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band.

Note: There is a prime (VIP) viewing spot in front of the Buckingham Fountain, access to which has to be bought by the day before (that is, Friday, March 15th).

Dates: Begins at 12:15 PM on Saturday, March 16h.

Website: Visit the website. To buy access to the VIP viewing spot, visit this webpage.

Go on a St. Paddy’s Day river cruise

Enjoying a St. Patty's Day river cruise in Chicago

Celebrate with a St. Paddy's Day river cruise down the Chicago River! Image by Benjamin Suter on Unsplash.

If you want a really exclusive experience, including some of the best views possible of the dyeing of the river and the parade, book a St. Paddy’s Day river cruise for yourself.

Many companies offer special St. Patrick’s Day cruises that include a complete cruise up the river during the festivities, themed food and drinks, and so on. Some of the top options include - 

Dates: Saturday, March 16th.

St. Patrick’s Fest at the Irish American Heritage Center

St. Patrick's Fest at the Irish American Heritage Center in Chicago.

Feel authentic Irish culture and fun at the Irish American Heritage Center. Representational image.

As they proclaim on their website, the Irish American Heritage Center’s St. Paddy’s Day Fest includes the best of everything - the best of Irish music, the best of Irish dance, and the best of Irish food and drink.

This year, the event is being headlined by the Screaming Orphans, the well-known all-sister band from Donegal.

Dates: Sunday, March 17th, from 7 pm to 10:00 pm.

Website: Visit the website.

The South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade

The South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade in Chicago.

Experience the community spirit at the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade. Image by Lisa Larsen from Pixabay.

The second of the three St. Patrick’s Day parades in Chicago, the South Side Irish Parade takes place on the day AFTER the Chicago Parade.

While the Chicago parade has a longer and (somewhat more difficult) past, the South Side parade began in 1979 out of the efforts of George Hendry and Pat Coakley, two friends and neighbors from the South Side.

That’s why this is generally considered a homegrown and more family-friendly affair.

The parade takes place on Western Avenue from 103rd Street to 115th Street in Beverly, one of Chicago’s longest-standing Irish neighborhoods.

They also offer a ‘parade passport’ - check it out!

Dates: 12 pm to 3 pm on Sunday, March 17th.

Website: Visit the website.

The Northwest Side Irish Parade

Merrymakers at the Northwest Side Irish Parade in Chicago

Enjoy the festive atmosphere of the Northwest Side Irish Parade, a family-friendly event. Image by Lisa Larsen from Pixabay.

The third parade we have for St. Paddy’s Day, the Northwest Side parade, begins at William J. Onahan School and winds through Neola Avenue, crossing a couple of highways before ending at Harlem Avenue.

This is more of a community event celebrating Irish life and values.

And there’s an official afterparty (ticketed entry) including food and drinks (a combination of Irish fare like corned beef and cabbage and American food like chicken wings and beer), a musical performance by Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, dances, and so on.

You can take your children for age-appropriate activities like face painting and balloon play.

Dates: Kicks off at 12 pm on Sunday, March 17th. Assembly starts a couple of hours earlier, at 10 am.

Website: Visit the website.

Festive cuisine and cocktails

Festive St. Patrick's Day cuisine and cocktails in Chicago.

Savor the flavors of St. Patrick's Day with festive cuisine and cocktails in Chicago's best pubs.

Wondering where to snag a delicious bite or a festive drink while soaking in the emerald hues of the day? 

Chicago's St. Patrick's Day is a culinary adventure, boasting a hearty nod to its rich Irish heritage and a community ready to celebrate with traditional and innovative treats. 

Eateries and pubs pull out all the stops, offering everything from authentic Irish dishes to creative culinary twists, ensuring there's something for every palate.

  • Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro offers a modern twist on traditional Irish fare with a modern flair, complemented by an impressive whiskey and beer selection.

  • Chief O'Neill's Pub & Restaurant delights with its genuine Irish vibe and special holiday menu featuring beloved classics paired with lively tunes and festive green beers.

  • The Gage offers an elegant St. Patrick's Day experience on Michigan Avenue, serving sophisticated dishes and innovative cocktails that cater to a refined taste.


Shamrock'n is a lively St. Patrick's Day event hosted by Old St. Patrick's Church, featuring a wide array of entertainment, including music from Liam Durkin, the Chancey Brothers, and Whiskey Mick, as well as Pipe & Drum bands and Irish dance. 

It's a family-friendly affair with activities for kids, making it fun for all ages. 

The event promises an incredible atmosphere in its new location at 625 W. Adams, ensuring a memorable celebration. 

Dates: Kicks off at 11 am on Saturday, March 16th

Website: Visit the website.

Shamrock Shuffle

Are you among those who don’t like St. Paddy’s Day ending so quickly?

Then here’s an event that should get you excited…

On March 24th, a full week after the St. Patrick’s Day parades, Grant Park and the Loop will be swept by a wave of shamrock green…

Courtesy the Shamrock Shuffle, a decades-old event that includes a sprint through the Loop, beginning and ending at Grant Park. Everyone is expected to be in their best Irish green.

Apart from a rekindling of the St. Patrick’s Day spirit, the event stands for the city awakening from its winter slumber and sprinting towards a lively spring.

Dates: Sunday, March 24th.

Website: Visit the website.