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St. Patrick's Day in Chicago

Updated on February 17, 2014

What to do on St. Patrick's Day in Chicago? Tips and tricks for visitors, tourists and locals!

Chicago has one of the largest populations of Irish-Americans, and that makes St. Patrick's Day a huge celebration in the city of Chicago! From family events to food, parade to the dying of the river green, music, merriment and more - Chicago is a great place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Below are a few ideas of how you can get into the spirit of St. Patrick's Day in Chicago!

St. Patrick's Day Parades in Chicago!

Grab your green and bundle up and head out to the Chicago St. Patrick's Day parades! There are several parades held in Chicago.

Chicago's St. Patrick's Day Parade - This is the official city of Chicago parade and takes place downtown on Columbus avenue. It is normally held the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day, beginning at noon at Columbus and Balbo. If you are a tourist staying in a downtown hotel, this is the recommended parade for you.

Northwest Side Irish Parade - This is a neighborhood parade that takes place on the Northwest side of the city. If you are a Chicago local looking for a family-friendly parade in your neighborhood, this is a great option.

Southside Irish Parade - Although the South Side Irish Parade ended in 2009, the organizers will carry on the tradition with a festival in celebration of St. Patrick's Day at the Beverly Arts Center. This is a great all day family event.

Dying The River Green - A Chicago Tradition!

One of the greatest Chicago traditions is the dying of the Chicago River green in honor of St. Patrick's Day. Don't worry, the chemicals used are safe for the environment!

Wearing of the Green

It's a Chicago tradition that you need to wear something green on St. Patrick's Day! Don't leave home without a bit of green, or else!

Chicago Irish Film Festival

Another excellent Chicago tradition is the annual Chicago Irish Film Festival, which brings movies about Ireland and Irish culture to the American audiences. There are dozens of films screened, many of which go on to win awards at Sundance, Cannes, and other major festivals. The Chicago Irish Film Festival usually takes place the first week of March.

Take a chance on a new movie, and maybe you'll just find a pot of gold on screen!

Filmed Live In Chicago: Irish Band Gaelic Storm

Legendary Gaelic Storm filmed their live show in Chicago and released it on this DVD. A must see for fans of Irish rock!

Visit the Irish American Heritage Center!

The Irish American Heritage Center, located on the Northwest side of Chicago, is dedicated to preserving Irish heritage, culture and tradition. The Center contains a library with books in English and Gaelic, art gallery, several theatres, and meeting rooms. Lessons are available for Gaelic, quilting, dancing, music, art genealogy and more! The Fifth Province is a favorite spot - an authentic Irish pub, it hosts live music on the weekends and is always a grand time!

Find Your Chicago Irish Heritage!

If you're heading to the Irish American Heritage Center to research your relatives, this book will be invaluable to you. Not only will you get tips about researching your Irish heritage, this book is also a great guide to the Irish people and places around Chicago. Don't leave home on St. Paddy's day without it!

Finding Your Chicago Irish
Finding Your Chicago Irish

Reviews of the book from

Finding Your Chicago Irish is the most comprehensive to do list for Irish culture in Chicago that I've seen! If you've ever thought you could use a concierge for all things Irish in Chicago, this is it! Ms. Shea Bossard makes the hidden gems of the city's Irish community more accessible than ever before. --Tim O Malley, President,

Finally! A road map to not only find my Chicago Irish, but to celebrate my native city and my ethnic roots. With a Guinness in hand, a shamrock in my pocket, and a storytelling tradition in my soul, I move ahead with Sharon Shea Bossard's much-appreciated book at my side to discover my heritage yet more. --Daniel P. Smith, author On the Job: Behind the Stars of the Chicago Police Department

There is a reason that Chicago has produced such important figures in Irish culture, from Chief O'Neill to Michael Flatley. There is a vitality to this city that resonates in the music, literature, and art of Irish Americans who live here, and Sharon Shea Bossard captures this in her comprehensive guidebook. This work is a social map of Irish Chicago, and it doesn't miss a thing. To paraphrase an old Irish expression, Finding Your Chicago Irish is mighty. --Christopher Lynch, author Chicago's Midway Airport: The First Seventy-Five Years


Chicago Gaelic Park

Chicago Gaelic Park is located in the suburb Oak Forest, and caters to the social and cultural needs of the Irish community throughout Chicagoland. The park includes a sports complex, lounge bar, meeting rooms and banquet halls. It hosts the Chicago Gaelic Atheltic Association hurling and football teams, as well as annual dancing competitions and cultural festivals. There is always something going on at Chicago Gaelic Park!

What's your favorite Chicago St. Patrick's Day tradition?

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    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      Gosh, having pizza and drinking beer? Happy St. Patrick's Day my dear.

    • Scotties-Rock profile image

      Clairissa 6 years ago from OREFIELD, PA

      Chicago looks like the place to be for St. Patty's day!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from Australia

      Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2012! All the best of green Irish luck to you.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 6 years ago from Australia

      Happy Saint Patrick's Day 2012! All the best of green Irish luck to you.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 6 years ago

      Looks like a fun place to celebrate St. Patty's Day.

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 7 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much Kimberly - what an honor!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I wasn't exactly sure which action "hurling" referred to!

      Congrats on being on the Best of St. Patrick's Day lenses 2011!

    • justholidays profile image

      justholidays 7 years ago

      Happy Saint Patrick, Jen! By the way, congrats on your feature on the best of Saint Pat on Squidoo!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Kiss Me, I'm Irish! Lucky Leprechaun Blessings by a Squidoo Angel

    • SweetMarie83 LM profile image

      SweetMarie83 LM 7 years ago

      Great lens! I've never been to any big parties or parades for St. Patrick's Day because there really aren't any in my area...I'll have to plan to head to Chicago some year for the big day!

    • sallemange profile image

      sallemange 7 years ago

      How amazing, my partner told me about how wild Chicago goes when he was there on a business trip from the UK, it looks great fun.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 8 years ago

      I love Chicago and have not run across your lenses on Chicago before. Will feature this lens on my Galway Bay Reading Group lens, which talks about the beginnings of Chicago and its Irish immigrants. And, thank you for blessing my mountaintop removal lens. You're an angel! :)

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 8 years ago

      Would love to come to Chicago for St. Patrick's Day sometime. I'm not scared off by the cold since I live in MN :) 5*!

      P.S. Thanks for blessing my cheap wedding ideas lens. Much appreciated.

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 8 years ago from Western Mass

      great guide!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Nice lens, I am lensrolling this to my Limericks For Saint Patrick's Day lens. 5*****

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      As a Celt myself, I can appreciate a good reason to shake things up a bit. Thanks for the lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      As a Celt myself, I can appreciate a good reason to shake things up a bit. Thanks for the lens.