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  • Illinois St Patrick's Day
  • Illinois St Patrick's Day
  • Illinois St Patrick's Day

St Patrick’s Day Craic in Chicago and Beyond

There’s no place that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day quite like Illinois and Chicago is no exception. From the city to the surrounding towns, Chicago is green with Irish spirit – which isn’t surprising considering that the Irish comprise one of the largest ethnic groups in the city.

Chicago honours the date each year with many different celebrations, but the most well-known event is the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which has been running since 1845. The parade which runs through the downtown area of the city is traditionally preceded by the dyeing of the Chicago River. The ceremonial dyeing involves thousands of people lining the banks and watching as a boat releases colour into the river and turns it green. The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union has historically sponsored the river dyeing and are the only ones who know the secret to the dye mix. Don’t worry it’s not toxic. It takes 45 pounds of vegetable dye to colour the river. Make sure to get there in time as the colour only lasts 5 hours.


The city’s famous skyline also joins in with the fun with skyscrapers illuminated in green throughout March. Visitors from all over the world descend on Chicago for the weekend-long celebration to revel in the Irish festival spirit and see the river in all its emerald glory.

From Lincoln Park, the Chicago History Museum offers Irish-theme tours and pub crawls, such as "Erin Go Beer! Irish Pubs of Chicago." Via trolley, guests visit various Irish pubs to learn about the Irish community in Chicago and the history behind St. Patrick’s Day. Alternatively, Shoreline Sightseeing offer St. Patrick’s Day cruises on the Chicago green river.


Another famous and fun-filled celebration takes place in downtown Elmhurst, located just west of Chicago. The city hosts an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which has grown over the years to become the second largest parade in the greater Chicago area.

Elmhurst’s annual event features the usual elements that you would expect at a carnival parade, including floats, marching bands and lots of outlandish costumes. However, the events that follow are anything but ordinary! Leprechauns, clowns, jugglers, and bagpipe players add a special twist to proceedings. In addition to the parade, the fun continues with live music, food stalls, and plenty more entertainment.

Just 3 hours from Chicago is Galena, a vibrant Irish community nestled in the rolling hills. Galena hosts a popular St Patrick’s Day parade with costumed clans, marching bands and floats. One of the liveliest spots is Frank O’Dowd’s Irish Pub & Grill in the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel. Clap along with the crowd as a colourful troupe of Irish dancers and singers perform.


If you’re on Route 66, make sure to stop in Springfield for their 30th Annual St Patrick’s Day Parade. This year’s theme is “Rock the Blarney”, which brings unusual vehicles, floats, marching bands to downtown.

Why not pack your favourite green T-shirt and come to Chicago or one of the towns in Illinois to join in with the craic on March 17th!

Blogger Profile - Emily Morrison

Emily joined My America Holiday in September 2014 and writes about new holiday ideas and exciting destinations for the website (all of which adds to her ever present wanderlust). New York is one of her favourite cities in the world and her American dreams include driving all the way along Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica in an open top Chevy and catching the Coast Starlight train from LA to Seattle: As far as she’s concerned, it’s all about the journey.
Emily Morrison

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