St. Patrick’s day in Chicago, the “greenest” city of the World

March is St. Patrick’s day month and where better to celebrate than in Chicago, where not only the drinks color green, but monuments, streets and even rivers turn green!

Every year, there is an outburst of activities in Chicago on St. Patrick’s day, the day to celebrate Irish culture and to honour Saint Patrick, the primary patron saint of Ireland. Actually we better call it St. Patrick’s week as the activities already start before St. Patrick’s day, in different parts of town. Events take place from March 11-17 this year. Have you ever wondered why everybody is wearing green on St Patrick’s day? Well, it is a tradition that started already in the 17th century. Everybody was wearing green to honour St. Patrick and if you didn’t, you got pinched!

If you’ve never been to Chicago, the festive St. Patrick’s weekend is a great first time to go. That is, if you don’t mind that it’s still a bit chilly, before the city warms up in Spring.

Main events on St. Patrick’s day weekend

Lots of events are happening on and around St. Patrick’s day, with 3 parades, the dyeing of the Chicago River and the St. Patrick’s festival. The Irish taverns are bustling with activity, people are singing and dancing in the streets and families join to watch the colourful Downtown St. Patrick’s day parade.


  • Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 9.00AM: the dyeing of the Chicago River. For over 40 years, the Chicago River has been dyed green in honour of St. Patrick’s Day.  You can see the river turn into a beautiful shade of emerald green when buckets with a mysterious yellow liquid (not green!) are poured into the river. The “recipe” for the green river, has remained a secret for 40 years. I wonder if the secret will ever be revealed…The best lookout spot is at the intersection of Michigan Ave, Wacker Drive and the river.

  • Saturday, March 16, 2019 at 12.00PM: The Downtown Chicago Parade. Starting point: Balbo & Columbus, proceeding north on Columbus Drive. The viewing stand is located in front of Buckingham Fountain. The parade boasts colourful floats, features marching bands, dancers and…i’m sure you will see a bagpipe or two!
  • Saturday, March 16, St. Patrick’s day festival. The festival starts after the parade and will be held at the Irish American Heritage Center. This is a fun festival for the whole family with food, activities, Irish music and dance and stands with Irish gifts for sale.

Irish pubs
While in Chicago, be sure to check out one of the many Irish pubs in town. Visiting an Irish Pub is a unique experience by itself and the most fun way to end an event filled St. Patricks day. While you’re there….why not order some bites and finish your dinner with a (real) Irish coffee?

These 3 Irish pubs are favourite hangouts with the locals, featuring live Irish music on most days.

Food menus offer traditional Irish plates such as Guiness beef stew, Shepherd’s pie & Celtic Bread & Butter pudding. If you’re looking for a lighter meal, there are many international food options as well as Brunch menu’s.

The Galway Arms Pub
Mrs Murphy’s Pub
The Grafton Pub & Grill

Happy St. Patrick’s day!

Travel greetings,





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elisabeth J