A Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Guide

The dying of the Chicago River is an annual event that many look forward to seeing.

It’s finally March in Chicago and you all know what that means, St. Patrick’s Day. We take this holiday very seriously as Chicagoans. From dyeing the Chicago River green in the early morning to all the loud music, crowds of people, and green hats, ribbons, and shamrocks that occur during the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown, it’s a real thing for a lot of people. St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday that honors the patron saint of Ireland.

Chicago is rich in Irish heritage, with a significant population of Irish-Americans, due to many Irish immigrants settling in Chicago during the 19th and early 20th centuries, contributing to the overall growth of the city and shaping its identity. St. Patrick’s Day not only serves as a way to honor this heritage and maintain a strong connection to Irish culture but to provide an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together as a community to participate in parades, wear green and enjoy the holiday’s festivities.

This is a day when neighborhoods unite, and the city feels like one big family. Here’s a guide on how you can make the most of your time in the windy city during Chicago’s infamous celebration of St. Patrick’s Day:

Chicago River Dyeing: There is no St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago without witnessing the iconic moment that is the Chicago River turning into shades of emerald green. The dyeing of the river is a widely-known and beloved tradition that goes back over half a century. The vibrant green river is a visual spectacle that draws crowds and symbolizes the city’s commitment to celebrating Irish culture.


  • Arrive early for a good view!! Take pictures and videos before the color fades away.
  • The best place to watch the river turn green is along the Chicago River between State Street and Columbus Drive.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade: There’s truly nothing like the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago, deemed as one of the largest in the country. This day parade dates back over 175 years, first held in 1843 and became an official city event in the 1950s. Bringing together thousands of people, the festivity features marching bands, Irish dancers, colorful floats, bagpipers, and all you can imagine when you think of the holiday, creating a festive atmosphere that resonates with natives and visitors.


  • Put on your best kilt or green outfit and grab a good spot where you can see everything before the parade starts at noon!
  • The parade takes place on Columbus Drive between Balbo and Monroe Drive.

Explore Irish Neighborhoods: If you desire to understand and feel better connected with the history of Chicago’s proud Irish heritage, it is on full display in neighborhoods like Beverly (a traditionally Irish enclave) and the Irish American Heritage Center near Albany Park. You can explore these areas to experience authentic Irish culture, food, and music.


  • Neighborhoods to explore: Aside from Beverly and Albany Park, try checking out Mount Greenwood and Bridgeport!
  • Interact with people, and ask questions about the culture and heritage. Remember to soak up your interactions and the beauty of tradition.

So remember to wear your green and embrace the Irish spirit with as much unmatched enthusiasm as Chicago. We Chicagoans love a good time, and St. Patrick’s Day offers just that. From lively pubs to street celebrations, the city buzzes with energy. Whether it’s dancing, singing, or enjoying traditional Irish food and drinks, Chicagoans fully embrace the festive spirit of St. Patrick’s Day.


By Journey Powell, Freshman, Spelman College

Instagram: journeyaliah


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Written by Journey

Hiii, I’m Journey. I love to model and write poetry. My favorite movie series is Harry Potter.

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