St. Patrick’s Day exists in a strange middle ground of holidays, not a forgettable one like Arbor Day but not necessarily a family-based celebration like Hanukkah, so it can be a challenge to find something to do. But have no fear, this list will lay out the best activities for everyone’s favorite Irish patron saint day.
The most obvious activity here in Chicago is the famous dyeing of the river. The city government dyes the Chicago River green every year in honor of the Saint and countless people flock to see it.
Just like the famous Cloud Gate, also known as The Bean, it’s a staple of Chicago. To some, this overall event is the greatest insult to Ireland since Margaret Thatcher. To others, it’s the greatest party in the city.
There will undoubtedly be massive amounts of people drinking in public and general chaos. Any mad man would absolutely love this in all its debaucherous glory, just be ready to fight off sensitive drunkards or sickly patrons.
Those looking for a different view of the iconic river dyeing, there’s a variety of river cruises happening.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Slightly south of this craziness lies the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade. This family-friendly event will take place March 14 on Columbus Drive. The parade is scheduled to start at noon and last about three hours. It’s set to showcase all kinds of colorful groups and floats, from bagpipe bands to dance troops. A much less disgusting affair than the river, the parade is an ideal for a day out with the family.
However be weary of this event, as there are talks about shutting it down due to fears surrounding COVID-19. If it takes place, remember to keep a portable bottle of hand sanitizer with you, and avoid skin-to-skin contact if possible.
Looking beyond the Loop, there are plenty of neighborhood celebrations across the city. Set to follow the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave.) in Albany Park will host a St. Patrick Festival. Featuring contemporary and traditional Irish music, food and dance and vendors selling Irish gifts, it boasts celebrating “all things Irish.”
The festival is set to include the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, The Chancey Brothers and Trinity Irish Dancers. There’ll also be an arts and crafts fair and family-friendly activities for children. It will be running from 1 p.m. to midnight with tickets costing $15.
Shamrock’n the Block at Old Saint Patrick’s Church (700 W. Adams St.) is a yearly St. Patty’s Day block party for people of all ages. Taking place March 14 from noon to 6 p.m., this shindig features traditional Irish dancing as well as bands, with enough corned beef and beer to feed and intoxicate a village.
If March 14 is all booked up, then fear not because the Northwest Side Parade is ready to launch March 15. Starting 12 p.m. at the William J. Onahan School (6634 W. Raven St.). The parade goes for one hour, with an afterparty kicking off with a $15 entrance fee. Showcasing the same foods as Shamrock’n the Block, making for no shortage of classic Irish delicacies.
On the other side of the city, the longstanding South Side Parade will also take place March 15 at noon. It’s set to run from Western Avenue between 103rd & 115th Streets and include bands, dance groups and the parade queen.
The South Side Parade is also at risk of being cancelled because of the spread of Coronavirus.
Casual Indoors Fun
There are also plenty of things to do at home for those who are concerned with COVID-19. For instance, the classic Disney original “Luck of the Irish” is streaming on Disney+ and offers its fair share of laughs, nostalgia trips and horrible mid-2000s acting.
Even simpler, invite a few friends over and have a couple drinks. As long as the drink isn’t too cheap or plentiful, it can be quite a fun experience. Whether it’s celebrating with Guinness or a green beer, a simple friendly gathering always brings the holiday together. Of course, this is only for those who are over the age of 21.