Chicago is, hands down, the best place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, outside of the pearly gates. While other cities may dye the water in a fountain green or paint a green stripe down the center of the street, Chicago turns the Chicago River, that runs through the center of the city, a brilliant shade green that makes all others green with envy.
Whether it's green beer, green tea, green eggs and ham or the world's best corn beef sandwich, here are the top ten Chicago ways to celebrate St. Paddy's day in the Windy City.
Dyeing the River Green
Once again, Chicago will dye the Chicago River green, a tradition that dates back to 1962. The greening is set to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, but it pays to get there early to secure a good spot for viewing. Prime viewing areas include: the east side of the Michigan Avenue bridge, the west side of the Columbus Drive bridge, or upper and lower Wacker Drive between Michigan and Columbus. PLEASE NOTE Time Change: Due to the large crowd expected the greening of the river has been moved up to 9:30 a.m.
Everybody Loves a Parade
There are many parades in Chicago and the suburbs but the two parades that fight it out for top billing are the downtown Chicago St. Patrick's Parade and the South Side Irish Parade. Lucky for us, we can see both.
The downtown, Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade steps off at noon on Saturday, March 15. The parade starts at Balbo and Columbus then continues north on Columbus Drive to Buckingham Fountain.
Photo credit: Ryan J. Bolger
The South Side Irish Parade steps off at noon on Sunday, March 16th from 103rd and proceeds down Western Avenue to 115th Street.
Pubs, Pubs, Pubs
Chicago is loaded with Irish Pubs, but sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. The Chicago History Museum comes to the rescue with their Erin Go Beer! Irish Pubs of Chicago Tour/Crawl on Thursday, March 13.
Looking for some traditional Irish pubs in Chicago? Butch McGuire's (20 W Division St.) is the epitome of an Irish pub. For St. Patrick's Day/week they pull out all the stops with their festive St. Paddy's Day decorations that include leprechauns and more complimented by their Irish-green walls. This iconic Gold Coast bar has been bringing in both visitors and locals alike for over 50 years. Closer to the parade route at Clark and Grand, you'll find the authentic Irish Pub Fado (100 W. Grand). The pub that was designed and constructed in Ireland is the real deal with slow pour Guinness and made-from-scratch menu items including fish and chips. If you're more into "old style" dive bars, try Galway Bay Pub at 500 W. Diversey.
The Irish Heritage Center holds a three day St. Patrick's Festival from Saturday, March 15 through Monday, March 17.
The big day is Saturday, with activities kicking off following the downtown Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade at 1 p.m. and going into the wee hours.
The large-scale, family-friendly event features traditional and contemporary Irish music, dance, food, children's activities, Irish arts and crafts and more.
There's a lot more than green tea at the Langham Chicago's afternoon St. Patrick's Day tea. Their creative team of chefs have put together a menu with such fun items as "Green" Eggs and Ham Salad on Brioche" for this special occasion. The afternoon tea is served in the Langham's Pavilion Lounge that borders the Chicago River between Wabash and State Street (330 N. Wabash). Seatings for Irish afternoon tea will take place at 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on March 14, 15, 16 and 17.
Lap of Luxury
Where else but Trump Towers would you expect to get a St. Patrick's Day Skybox from which to view the dyeing of the the Chicago River Green. St. Patrick's Day Skyboxes, located on the hotel's 17th floor and seating 40, can be yours by contacting Private Events Sales Manager Ariel Lickton at (312) 588-8114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don't Forget the Corn Beef
Once again, Chicago is the place to go for some of the best corn beef sandwiches on the planet. There are "best of" lists and yelp ratings along with arguments aplenty as to what Chicago restaurant/deli has the best corn beef sandwich. For our money it's Manny's at 1141 S. Jefferson. In addition to their over the top corn beef sandwiches, Manny's has a special St. Patrick's menu that goes from March 9 through March 17.
Get an Early Start
For those who could care less about the parade, "You Can Drink All Day" at Lottie's party of the same name. The celebration features a 4-hour food and drink package from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 15 that serves up a special breakfast buffet complete with Bloody Marys, screwdrivers, Red Bull cocktails and green Miller Lite and Coors Light drafts. Click here for tickets.
Wherever you go and whatever you do Slainte: Good Health! and Cheers!
And keep in mind this old Irish saying:
"Here's to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold pint and another one!"
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