Now that you have kids, you may think that celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago is a distant (and perhaps foggy) memory. Well think again! From the northern ‘burbs to the far south side, there’s something for everyone who’ll surely be donning the green this month. Check out these family-friendly festivities and Erin Go Bragh!
photo: kosheahan via flickr
IN THE CITY
Chicago River Dyeing
The first Mayor Daley kicked off this tradition in 1962, and every year since the Chicago River has turned a bright green to kick off the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. Boats speed through dropping 40 pounds of a special eco-safe dye that starts out orange and miraculously turns green for a spectacle that lasts for a few magical hours. This annual miracle can be best viewed from the east side of the Michigan Ave., the west side of Columbus Dr. or Upper and Lower Wacker Dr. between Michigan Ave. and Columbus Dr.
Sat., Mar. 16, 9 a.m.
Chicago River, between Columbus & Wacker Drives
photo: courtesy of Max Talbot-Minkin via Flickr
Rain, shine, snow or sleet, since 1843 our fair city has been hosting the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade starts at Balbo and Columbus and heads north in a procession chock-full of colorful floats, bagpipes, Irish dancers, marching bands and more. Public transportation is highly recommended as the parade always attracts thousands!
Sat., Mar. 16, noon
Begins in Grant Park, at Columbus and Balbo Streets
photo: courtesy of Marta Sand via Flickr
St. Patrick’s Festival at the Irish American Heritage Center
Immediately following the downtown parade, head over to the Irish American Heritage Center on the Northwest side for the after-party. The family-oriented annual event will include traditional and contemporary Irish music, Irish step dance performances, food and drink, children’s activities and an arts-and-crafts fair with an Irish flair.
Sat., Mar. 16, 1 p.m.-midnight
Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave., Irving Park
Tickets are $15/adults, or $12 for advance purchase if bought by the end of the day on Mar. 14; free for ages 11 & under
St. Patrick’s Day Party at Harry O’Caray’s
Every year, Harry Caray’s River North embraces its inner Irish and morphs into Harry O’Caray’s for parade day. Doors open at 9 a.m., so stop in for a breakfast of poached eggs with Guinness Hollandaise or bangers and mash and, of course, a green beer! Throughout the day there will be live music, a DJ spinning Irish tunes, and more food specials like fish ’n’ chips, Irish cheddar soup and Irish Bread “Pudding.” It’s a great place to stop in before or after the downtown parade.
Sat., Mar. 16, 9 a.m.
Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse, 33 W. Kinzie St., River North
Old St. Patrick’s Church: St. Patrick’s Day Civic Celebration
With all of the fanfare surrounding St. Patrick’s Day, it’s easy to forget the reason why we’re celebrating: St. Patrick himself. What better way to remember (or teach your kids) than to attend mass at Old St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church in Chicago’s West Loop. The Old St. Patrick’s concert choir will be accompanied by The Sheila Tully Irish Stepdancers, and the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, keeping the festive spirit going throughout the day.
Sat., Mar. 16, 9 a.m. (doors open at 7 a.m.)
Old St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, 700 W. Adams St., West Loop
photo: courtesy of southie3 via Flickr
South Side Irish Parade
Always held on the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, the South Side Irish Parade began in 1979 as a small neighborhood affair that eventually grew into one of the largest St. Patricks’ Day celebrations outside of Dublin. In 2012, community organizers re-wired the parade to include a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol in the public way along the parade route, bringing it back to its family-oriented roots. The two-hour shindig features more than 90 acts meandering up Western Avenue for a day of festive flair. Locals might want to offset all of that corned beef and cabbage by participating in the Emerald Isle Mile, a one-mile fun run that starts at 11:30 a.m. immediately preceding the parade.
Sun., Mar. 17, noon
Held on Western Ave., between 103rd and 115th Streets
Northwest Irish Parade
The Northwest Irish Organization (NWSI) kicks off its 16th annual parade to celebrate all things Irish. With over 100 parade group participants and 2,500 people marching, it’s sure to be a fun-filled hour and a half for the whole family. If you’re up for more fun post-parade, the Official NWSI After Party will take place at Immaculate Conception Elementary School Recreation Center from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Tickets for the after party include dinner and drinks for kids and adults. Come for the corned beef, and stay for the entertainment, face painting, balloon magic and raffles!
Sun., Mar. 17, noon
Begins at 6634 W. Raven (Onahan School), up Neola Ave. to Northwest Highway and continues north to Harlem Ave.
Indulge in a Special Treat at JoJo’s Milk Bar
River North’s newest dessert hotspot is serving up an Irish Milk Bomb milkshake as a special St. Patrick’s Day treat. This over-the-top creation is artfully crafted with a mint chocolate base and pot o’ gold sprinkled collar, then topped with plenty o’ whipped cream, a rainbow candy ribbon, a chocolate covered Leprechaun marshmallow, a shamrock sugar cookie. For the adults feeling extra festive, a shot of Jameson too (as the Irish do)!
Sat., Mar. 16 & Sun. Mar. 17
JoJo’s Milk Bar, 23 W. Hubbard, River North
IN THE ‘BURBS
Barrington Celtic Fest
Make your way to McGonigal’s Pub in Barrington for the 10th annual Celtic Fest! The three-day festival agenda includes live music, a mix of local retail restaurants and merchants selling Irish goods, various entertainment including Irish dancers, bagpipers, special guest appearances, and of course plentiful availability of food and beverages. Families are welcome and encouraged to attend during the daytime hours.
Fri., Mar. 15-Sun. Mar. 17; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-2 a.m. & Sun., 9 a.m.-1 a.m.
Admission is free, but donations requested for the American Cancer Society
McGonigal’s Pub, 105 S. Cook St., Barrington
photo: jpmpinmontreal via flickr
Elmhurst St. Patrick’s Day Parade
If you call the suburbs home or just want to start your parade-going early this March, check out Elmhurst’s parade. Now ranked as the second largest St. Patricks’ day parade in the Chicago area, this year’s bash will include 80 floats, Irish Dancers, the Shannon Rovers, and local team mascots including Benny the Bull, Southpaw and Tommy Hawk. And don’t miss your chance to see the world’s largest drum along with the impressive York High School Marching Band! With ample parking and lots of participating restaurants and vendors, this year’s celebration will be one for the books!
Sat., Mar. 9, noon
Begins at the intersection of Wilson St. & Spring Rd. & continues north on Spring Rd.
West Suburban Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade and 5K
If you’re in or near Naperville on March 10th, be sure to check out the festivities hosted by the Rotary Club and the West Suburban Irish. A 5K chip-timed Race, Run or Walk will kick things off at a perky 8 a.m., followed by the parade at 10 a.m through historic downtown Naperville. Come to participate or to spectate – people arrive early to cheer on the runners and claim their territory for parade-watching!
Chicago Gaelic Park
While Chicago Gaelic Park celebrates the Irish culture all year round on its 62-acre Oak Forest campus, things really ramp up in March! From a theatrically staged show that journeys through the songs, speeches and images that honor and celebrate the Irish road to freedom to a family fun lunch, you’ll find something that’ll excite the Irish lover in you.
Sun., Mar. 17, starting at 9 a.m.
Chicago Gaelic Park, 6119 W. 147th St., Oak Forest
photo: courtesy of Guiseppe Milo via Flickr
Little Leprechauns Parent/Child Program at Cantigny Park
If you’re in the mood for just a bit of shenanigans this year, gather your wee ones for a day of stories, crafts and Irish treats courtesy of the Cantigny Park in Wheaton. These St. Patrick’s Day festivities add up to just the right amount of fun.
Fri., Mar. 15, 10 a.m.-11 a.m.
$12/child (free parking)
1s151 N. Winfield Rd., Wheaton
Register by calling 630-260-8162 or go to cantigny.org
photo: Picography via Pexels
BEST SPOTS FOR IRISH GRUB
If you’re going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, you’ve got to do it right. Wear some green, learn the lyrics to The Unicorn and feast on traditional Irish fare! Chicago and its suburbs has no shortage of spots to sample the best of what Ireland has to offer. Here are our favorites:
Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant
Named one of the “Top Ten Irish Pubs in the World” by Irish of the Welcomes magazine, Chief O’Neill’s could not feel more authentic if it were in the heart of county Cork itself. Home to the Irish Music School of Chicago, Chief O’Neill’s serves up traditional dishes such as lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, and Guinness-infused meatloaf. With live traditional Irish music and a “little leprechauns” menu featuring more American than Irish fare, you can’t go wrong!
3471 N. Elston Ave., Avondale, 773-583-3066 or chiefoneillspub.com
Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro
The Chicago Tribune called Mrs. Murphy’s “one of Chicago’s most authentic Irish restaurants,” and for good reason. The menu is vast, with everything from a traditional Irish breakfast to Guinness mac n’ cheese to award-winning barbecue – not to mention its intriguing collection of craft beers and vast whiskey selection. Starting March 1st, this place really gets into the spirit with their 17 days of St. Patrick countdown, hosting Irish-themed events like Whisky and Guinness samplings, Irish music sessions, a Guinness Beer Dinner and more. Mrs. Murphy’s is a must-do this March!
3905 N. Lincoln Ave., North Center, irishbistro.com, Reservations: 773-248-3905
Quigley’s Irish Pub
Talk about authentic… Quigley’s was designed and built in Ireland and then shipped to its current location in the Jefferson Hill shops of downtown Naperville. The interior includes an authentic antique fireplace and bookcases from Dublin and custom glass and Irish prints fill the walls. The pub hosts live bands on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Of course, the menu is filled with traditional Irish favorites, such as corned beef, lamb stew and beef braised with Guinness. The littles can feast from their own menu, and even for free on Mondays!
43 E. Jefferson St., Naperville, quigleysirishpub.com
Irish Times Pub
The Irish Times is a unique combination of old-school tradition and new-school thinking. Inside this “cozy cottage” you’ll find genuine Irish whiskeys, ales and beers (and faces) behind the bar. If you could see the back office, you’d find a progressive recycling program, a commitment to efficient gas and electric usage and a dedication to sourcing as much local produce as possible, including beers from local craft breweries. These ingredients are used in classic, homemade favorites such as corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, all from family recipes.
8869 Burlington Ave., Brookfield, irishtimespub.com
Enjoy a special St. Pat’s Family Day at Ballydoyle! Bring the kids into the pub for from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for face painting, live music, jewelry making, the McNulty Irish dancers and more! Enjoy a traditional pub menu with Irish classics including boxty (a potato pancake folded over and filled with different meats and vegetables) and treat yourself to Irish bread pudding for dessert. As they like to say, “Come for the food, stay for the music!” Family day is March 10th at the Aurora location; March 11th in Downers Grove.
28 W. New York St., Aurora and 5157 Main St., Downers Grove ballydoylepub.com
BRING IT HOME
Throwing a St. Paddy’s bash at your place? Get all the goods for your guests at these Irish import shops and markets:
Since 1957, Gaelic Imports has carried the largest selection of Irish groceries in the Midwest, including freshly made sausage rolls, bridies, steak & kidney pies and soda bread to name a few. Oh, and if you’re looking for something to wear to the party or something to serve the punch in, they sell clothes and Galway crystal too!
6346 W. Gunnison, Portage Park, gaelicimportschicago.com
Jack and Pat’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop
This is the epitome of a family-run business. Started by brothers Jack Powers and Kenneth Patrick Powers in 1972, the quaint and aptly named old-fashioned butcher shop is now run by three of Jack’s children (though Jack still stops in every day to help out!). If you’re in the southwest suburbs, be sure to stop at Jack and Pat’s for every kind of meat you can imagine, or have them cater your corned beef and cabbage dinner!
10717 S. Ridgeland Ave, Chicago Ridge, jackandpats.com
— Maria Chambers & MaryKate Hickey