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Chicago River dyeing

The best places to watch the Chicago River dyeing

Get a great view of the Chicago River dyeing ceremony for St. Patrick's Day from these vantage points.

As is tradition, the Chicago River will be turned green for St. Patrick's Day on Saturday, March 11. Crews start the process in the morning, working from Columbus Drive to State Street, and the dye typically lasts a day or two ( here's how they dye the river ). After the water changes colors, it's off to Grant Park for the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade . Whether you decide to crowd onto the Riverwalk or buy a ticket to a rooftop event, here's where you can watch the St. Patrick's Day Chicago River dyeing.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

How do they dye the Chicago River green?

T he Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 pours 50 pounds of dye into a quarter-mile stretch of the Chicago River over the course of 45 minutes.

When do they dye the Chicago River green?

Crews will begin dumping dye into the river at 10am on Saturday, March 11.

Why do they dye the Chicago River green?

In honor of St. Patrick's Day! The tradition was started in 1962 when members of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union were feeling festive and decided to dump 100 pounds of dye into the water.

What is used to dye the Chicago River green?

The exact formula is a secret, but it’s an orange-red, vegetable-based powder.

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Where to watch the Chicago River dyeing

Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk

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You'll have to arrive early to get a great spot, but you won't have to shell out any cash for a spectacular view of the river dyeing on the Chicago Riverwalk. For the best views of the festivities, head for the portion of the walkway between Columbus Drive and State Street.

Michigan Avenue Bridge

Michigan Avenue Bridge

Situated in the middle of Columbus Drive and State Street where the river dyeing action takes place, the Michigan Avenue Bridge is one of the most popular spots to get a view of the festivities. People show up to claim a spot on the bridge extra-early on the morning of the parade, so be prepared to stand on your toes if you roll out of bed late and show up when the dyeing begins.

State Street Bridge

State Street Bridge

Gaze down on the western end of the Chicago River dyeing from atop the State Street bridge, which is typically lined with folks snapping pictures of the boats pouring out dye below. The views are free, but as with any other public, river-adjacent space, you'll have to claim your spot early if you want an unobstructed view.

Columbus Drive Bridge

Columbus Drive Bridge

Columbus Drive wins points for its (slight) edge on proximity to the parade route compared to the other nearby river walkways. Once you've had your fill of watching the acid-hued dye flowing into the river, you can sneak out early and simply head south on Columbus Drive to grab a parade-side spot along Balbo Drive in Grant Park.

LondonHouse Chicago

LondonHouse Chicago

  • Mar 11, 2023

Watch the river turn green from way up high at LondonHouse Chicago's St. Patrick's Day bash, where guests can imbibe bottomless green beer, dance to a live DJ, snack on breakfast bites and catch stunning views of the river dyeing revelry while atop the hotel's 22nd floor outdoor terrace (or from within the indoor lounge, if you're looking to stay warm). General admission tickets include St. Patty's Day swag, a four-hour open bar, breakfast and access to DJ areas, though you can also spring for VIP tables with bottle service.

RPM Seafood

RPM Seafood

  • Daytime parties

Want to ball out before the St. Patrick's Day parade downtown? Watch the river turn green from RPM Seafood's floor-to-ceiling windows during this all-inclusive event, which includes passed appetizers, brunch and seafood stations, an open bar and more.

Pizzeria Portofino

Pizzeria Portofino

Pizza may not be the most authentic thing to eat during a St. Patrick's Day celebration, but who can resist its appeal? The riverfront restaurant offers great views of the water shifting colors, accompanied by cocktails, passed apps and plenty of 'za. Tickets start at $175 — those who want to go all out have the option of reserving a VIP booth or patio table.

Travelle at The Langham

Travelle at The Langham

Snag a spot at Travelle at The Langham's bar and lounge to enjoy art-inspired cocktails and complimentary bar bites while taking in panoramic views overlooking the Chicago River. Reservations are $150 per person, with the deposit being applied toward the final bill.

RAISED

Looking out from the intersection of State and Wacker, you'll get a great perspective of the River Dyeing at RAISED, located atop the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel. Each ticket includes breakfast, green beer, mimosas and Bloody Marys—and it's just a short walk to the parade in Grant Park.

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise

Chicago's First Lady provides an up-close look at the green river via a series of two-hour St. Paddy's Day-themed Clover Cruises. For $109, you can climb aboard the stately ship and party amid shamrock decor, live bagpipers, Irish-themed cocktails and an open-air deck perfect for peeping the emerald waters below. Plus, all attendees get a corned beef sandwich. Cruises depart between 10am and 2pm.

Wendella St. Patrick's Day Cruise

Wendella St. Patrick's Day Cruise

Wendella offers a variety of cruises that allow you to take in the Chicago River Dyeing while on the water, including a 21+ curise that includes three drink tickets, a cash bar and a heated lounge to warm up in ($80). There's also a kid-friendly cruise that nixes the green beer (adults $45, kids $20).

Trump International Hotel and Tower

Trump International Hotel and Tower

  • Boutique hotels
  • River North

The hotel's Grand Ballroom is hosting a lavish ($145 for adults, $75 for kids) event, complete with a brunch buffet offering Irish-themed offerings and an open bar. In addition to sweeping views of the Chicago River, guests will also be treated to performances from the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band and the Sheila Healy Academy of Irish Dance Group. The events starts bright and early at 8am, but the Irish coffee bar should help you stay awake. Purchase tickets here .

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St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise 2022

  • Chicago's First Lady Cruises
  • Chicago's Riverwalk at Michigan & Wacker; 112 E. Wacker Drive Chicago 60601 United States
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Join Chicago's First Lady Cruises on Saturday, March 12, 2022 for our annual St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise and witness the dyeing of the Chicago River in spectacular fashion!

Don your best green attire and get ready to shake your shamrocks for a whale of a good time as you eat, drink and be merry from the comfort of our luxurious vessels.

Your experience includes:

  • 2-hour cruise experience along Chicago's green river
  • Live bagpipe performance at boarding before cruise departure
  • Specialty Irish cocktails, Guinness, green beer and more (includes 2 drink tickets + cash bar)
  • Corned beef sandwich box from the Corned Beef Factory
  • Festive photo booth with themed props
  • Climate-controlled interior salon and open-air upper deck for spectacular green river views
  • Festive decor to get you in the St. Pat's spirit

Date: Saturday, March 12, 2022

Departure Times: 10:00am, 10:30am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm, 2:00pm

Dock Location: On Chicago's Riverwalk at Michigan & Wacker; 112 E. Wacker Drive

So join your favorite leprechauns for the ultimate St. Patrick's Day Chicago celebration as you raise a glass to the Irish (and everyone who pretends to be for the day!) Sláinte!

  • Mon-Fri Closed
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THE HISTORY OF CHICAGO & THE GREEN RIVER

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated in Chicago unlike anywhere else in the world; the city celebrates the holiday with dyeing the Chicago River an emerald green. For over 50 years, generations of Chicagoans and tourists kick off St. Patrick’s Day with watching the dyeing of the river.

green river cruise chicago

CHICAGO’S GREEN RIVER

This unique tradition began in 1961 when Stephen Bailey, a Business Manager of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union saw a plumber who was wearing originally white coveralls that were stained “Irish” green from dye that was used in the Chicago River. At that time fluorescein dye was used to detect leaks and pollution in the river. Bailey thought it would be a great idea to dye the river green for St. Patrick’s Day and so the tradition was born in 1962. One hundred pounds of dye was poured in the river and the river was green for a week. The following years, they experimented with the amount and type of dye used; finally, perfecting the process of dyeing the river. Today the river is dyed with 40 pounds of environmentally friendly dye, which keeps the river green for four to five hours.

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2023 St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise

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Join Chicago's First Lady Cruises on Saturday, March 11 for our St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise!

Don your best green attire and get ready to shake your shamrocks for a whale of a good time as you eat, drink and be merry from the comfort of our luxurious vessels. Departing at 10:00am, 10:30am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 1:30pm & 2:00pm.Includes:• 2-hour cruise experience along Chicago's green river• Live bagpipe performance at boarding before cruise departure• Specialty Irish cocktails, Guinness, green beer and more (includes 2 drink tickets + cash bar)• Corned beef sandwich box from the Corned Beef Factory• Festive photo booth with themed props• Climate-controlled interior salon and open-air upper deck for spectacular green river views. This is a 21+ event. All guests must present a valid photo ID at check-in.

  • March 11, 2023

Chicago's First Lady Cruises

112 E Wacker Dr. Chicago, IL 60601

Saturday, March 11

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Chicago Green River St. Pat's Cruise

green river cruise chicago

  • 300 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60654, USA This cruise will board on the Chicago Riverwalk at Orleans and Wacker Drive (300 West Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL.) Our uniformed staff will be on site to help guide you to the boat.
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 36 travelers
  • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
  • You'll start at 300 W Wacker Dr 300 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60654, USA This cruise will board on the Chicago Riverwalk at Orleans and Wacker Drive (300 West Wacker Dr., Chicago, IL.) Our uniformed staff will be on site to help guide you to the boat. See address & details
  • Pass by Chicago River
  • You'll return to the starting point

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Chicago Green River St. Pat's Cruise provided by Island Party Boat

history of dyeing the chicago river green

Chicago’s Green River: St. Patrick’s Day History & Boating Guide

Table of Contents

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, held every year on March 17, are naturally associated with good old-fashioned fun. Green-wearing celebrants march in lively downtown parades in large cities and small towns across the United States. Each year over 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades take place all across the country, and even in other parts of the world.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago, Illinois , for instance, brings to life one infamous tradition that always turn heads—and is of special interest to boaters. The world-renowned Chicago Green River.

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History of the Chicago Green River

Believe it or not, a good stretch of the Chicago River is dyed bright green on the Saturday before this iconic holiday. The river-dyeing event always takes place on the same date as Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Not surprisingly, the Green River event has a long and colorful history ( pun intended ). In fact, in 2022 Chicago will mark the 50th anniversary of this landmark occasion. Here’s how it all began…

Why is the Chicago River dyed green on St. Patrick’s Day?

In 1961, Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley wanted to spruce up the city’s riverfront section; however, the river was full of sewage, and it looked and smelled horrible. To determine the sewage’s source, and identify the responsible parties, Mayor Daley ordered public works officials to pour a bright green dye into the river.

Naturally, the job fell to the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130. It was easy to tell which members got the enviable job, as their coveralls were covered in green dye after the day’s work.

The Very First Green River Event

It didn’t take long before news spread throughout the city of this occurrence, and soon, St. Patrick’s Day Parade chairman (and Plumbers Local member) Stephen Bailey got a flash of inspiration. Why not use the same technique to give a good-sized stretch of the Chicago River a greenish tint for St. Patrick’s Day? As Mayor Daley’s good friend, Bailey easily got the approval to turn the Chicago River green.

Three months later, Plumbers Local workers poured 100 pounds of green dye into the river just before St. Patrick’s Day. The dye worked remarkably well, turning the river a bright green that lasted for a whole week.

Understandably surprised at the substance’s lasting effects, workers cut the dye back to 50 pounds over the next two years. Over the following decades, the Plumbers Local workers tweaked the dye amount again and again. Finally, workers determined that 50 pounds of dye would turn a quarter-mile of the Chicago River green for up to two days.

How does Chicago celebrate the Green River?

Chicago’s Green River plays a key role in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. For starters, the river-dyeing event is always held on the same morning as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In 2022, the event will take place on Saturday, March 12, early in the day. An entire city block, or the stretch between Columbus Drive and State Street, will be the lucky recipient.

Over 400,000 hardy revelers have two options for getting up close and personal with the Green River. First, the green-tinged section will extend for a whole city block, covering Columbus Drive to the State Street portion of the river. This means people traveling over any of four bridges can glimpse this decidedly unusual winter phenomenon.

Great land-based vantage points

For an ideal (and free) vantage point, head over to the Chicago Riverwalk. Arrive early, and stake out a spot between State Street and Columbus Drive, overlooking the scene of the river-dyeing event. In fact, the Michigan Avenue Bridge is, hands down, one of the best places to watch the process unfold.

Don’t mind shelling out a few bucks? If so, purchase a ticket to a strategically located rooftop viewing event. As a bonus, you’ll be treated to a wide-ranging view of the Chicago skyline. Dress in layers to avoid hypothermia, and get ready to enjoy a show you’ll remember for years.

Chicago River on-water viewing spots

Of course, viewing the St. Patrick’s Day Green River spectacle from the water can’t be beaten. You can easily book a boat rental of your choice using Boatsetter to fit all your St. Patrick’s Day party-planning needs. Browse boats of all different sizes and styles, and even opt to have a USCG-certified captain do the operating—that way you don’t need to worry about a thing.

If you really want to get festive, connect to the onboard Bluetooth speakers onboard to blast authentic Irish bagpipe music.

Pack Irish food and libations to enjoy, and when events wrap up, your local captain will navigate you and crew to the best viewing spots for the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Book Your St. Patrick’s Day Boat Rental Now

How is the Chicago River dyed green?

Dyeing the Chicago River green is a two-step process that takes just under an hour. A Plumbers Union crew hops in one or two large powerboats early in the morning. A smaller boat tags along behind.

First, the large powerboats’ crews disperse the dye into the water with flour sifters. Next, the smaller boat spins back and forth to churn the dye and water together. After about 45 minutes, the dye takes effect, and the Chicago River turns a bright green color.

How long does the Chicago River stay green?

Once the dyeing process is finished, the river will keep its green tint for 24 to 48 hours. Of course, this duration assumes that 50 pounds of dye are used for the same quantity of water. If the ratios go up or down, the dye could last longer or shorter intervals.

Is dyeing the Chicago River green safe?

In the early 1960s, the Plumbers Union used oil-based fluorescein to dye the Chicago River green. Environmentalists strongly objected to this move, saying the dye made the river’s condition even worse.

In 1966, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers agreed to stop using the toxic oil-based dye. Instead, they switched to using 25 pounds of a vegetable-based powdered coloring agent. Interestingly, the dye powder is orange until it mixes into the water.

Finally, the Plumbers Union says the new bright green dye is environmentally friendly . However, they still won’t divulge its makeup, as the green dye recipe is a closely guarded secret.

Chicago River and Lake Michigan Boating Tips

Chicago’s notoriously harsh winters drive most recreational boat owners off the water until spring. However, during the boating season, the Chicago River and Lake Michigan offer some great boating and fishing opportunities.

With plenty of room for everybody, these waters are home to numerous runabouts, convertibles, motor yachts, and sailboats. Many smaller vessels opt for day trips, dropping the hook for lunch or checking out some favorite fishing spots. Boaters on well-equipped larger vessels often enjoy a weekend or even weeklong cruises.

Boaters who are itching to get on the water, and don’t have their own boats, can take advantage of an easy-to-book boat rental with Boatsetter . Choosing the right boat takes just a few clicks, and it opens the door to some relaxing fun on the water.

Browse All Available Boat Rentals in Chicago, IL

Boatsetter empowers people to explore with confidence by showing them a world of possibility on the water. Rent  a boat,  list  your boat, or become a  Boatsetter captain  today.

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Booze cruise events in Chicago, IL

St. Patrick's Day Booze Cruise Aboard Spirit of Chicago primary image

St. Patrick's Day Booze Cruise Aboard Spirit of Chicago

Sat, Mar 16 • 11:30 AM

Spirit of Chicago (Boarding at Navy Pier)

St. Patrick's Day Chicago Green River Booze Cruise! primary image

St. Patrick's Day Chicago Green River Booze Cruise!

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Summer Of George

Sun, Mar 17 • 3:30 PM

St. Patrick's Day Chicago River Dying Booze Cruise! primary image

St. Patrick's Day Chicago River Dying Booze Cruise!

Sat, Mar 16 • 9:30 AM

Late Night Booze Cruise on Lake Michigan aboard Spirit of Chicago primary image

Late Night Booze Cruise on Lake Michigan aboard Spirit of Chicago

Sat, Apr 13 • 11:00 PM + 3 more

Late Night Booze Cruise on Lake Michigan aboard Spirit of Chicago primary image

Sat, Jun 1 • 11:30 PM

Saturday Night Skyline Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

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Sat, May 4 • 8:30 PM

Sightseer Boat located at Monroe Harbor (See map and directions at bottom of page for exact location)

Saturday Night Skyline Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Sat, May 11 • 8:30 PM

Saturday Night Skyline Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Sat, May 18 • 8:30 PM

Cinco de Mayo Wknd Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Cinco de Mayo Wknd Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar

Sat, May 4 • 4:30 PM

July 4th Premier Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

July 4th Premier Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar

Thu, Jul 4 • 8:30 PM

Cinco de Mayo Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Cinco de Mayo Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar

Sun, May 5 • 1:30 PM

Saturday Night Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Saturday Night Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar

Sat, May 25 • 8:30 PM

Saturday Night Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Sat, Jun 1 • 8:30 PM

Saturday Night Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Sat, Jun 8 • 8:30 PM

Saturday Night Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Sat, Jun 15 • 8:30 PM

Memorial Day Weekend Sunday Cruise on Lake Michigan-21+, Live DJ, Full Bar primary image

Memorial Day Weekend Sunday Cruise on Lake Michigan-21+, Live DJ, Full Bar

Sun, May 26 • 8:30 PM

Memorial Day Weekend Sunday Cruise on Lake Michigan-21+, Live DJ, Full Bar primary image

Sun, May 26 • 1:30 PM

July 3rd Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

July 3rd Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar

Wed, Jul 3 • 4:30 PM

Saturday Night Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan | 21+ | Live DJ | Full Bar primary image

Sat, Jun 22 • 8:30 PM

Things to do around Chicago

St. Patrick's Green River Morning Booze Cruise

St. Patrick's Green River Morning Booze Cruise

Tickets for St. Patrick's Green River Morning Booze Cruise in Chicago 🎫 General Admission ticket for 1 person, including entry to the boat, St. Patrick's Day Sunglasses, and green beads

Highlights 🚢 Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on this special morning cruise in Chicago's Green River 🏙️ Admire breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and important landmarks 🎵 Party on 2 floors with the best mix of music by DJ Tecknique and more! 📸 Photographers and videographers will be onboard 🍸 Delicious drinks are available for purchase

General Info 📅 Date: March 12, 2023 🕒 Time: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. 📍 Boarding location: Summer Of George, 900 South Wells Street Chicago 👤 Age requirement: 21+ with valid ID

Description Get up close to Chicago’s famous Green River and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the best way possible. Come along for an early morning cruise where you’ll enjoy delicious drinks and non-stop music from some of Chicago’s very best artists including DJ Tecknique. Pose for photos and videos taken by the onboard photographers and admire the breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. So bring your friends and start the celebrations early this year. Get your tickets for the St. Patrick's Green River Morning Booze Cruise in Chicago!

Getting there

Boat Boarding Location (900 S Wells)

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Chicago St. Patrick’s Day

Have you ever witnessed a river turn into an emerald sea? Ever been part of a parade that makes the heart beat to the rhythm of marching bands and Irish step dancers? Well, let me take you on a journey through Chicago St. Patrick’s Day , where tradition dances with revelry under March skies.

The Windy City bursts into life every year around this time – from dyeing its beloved Chicago River brilliant green to hosting one of America’s largest St. Paddy’s Day parades. The energy is palpable, as if the city itself wears an oversized green outfit in honor of its rich Irish American heritage.

Ready to explore the grandeur of this celebration? We’ll guide you through time-honored traditions, like the performances by Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band. You’ll also get insider info on local parades and where to find the best corned beef and green beer! So, let’s dive in.

Table of Contents:

An unforgettable celebration, dyeing the town green., a nod to the past with modern twist, beyond parades: a taste of ireland, environmentally friendly celebration, the magic of marching bands and step dancers, an unparalleled route: columbus drive, paying homage to tradition with modern flair, top irish pubs for st. patrick’s day, river cruises offering a different perspective, shopping for green outfits, the south side and northwest side parades, nightlife celebrations for adults, family-friendly events, irish american heritage center festival, what does chicago do for st patricks day, what day will chicago dye river green 2023, is chicago busy during st patrick’s day, why does chicago dye the river green, chicago st. patrick’s day: a beloved tradition.

Discover the magic of Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, a beloved tradition that brings the city to life with Irish spirit.

This event isn’t just about sporting your best green outfit or sipping on Irish beer; it’s a nod to Chicago’s rich Irish American heritage that takes over every corner of the Windy City with an infectious festive spirit.

If you’re new to Chicago St. Patrick’s Day , mark your calendar for March 17th, which falls on a Friday in 2023.

You’ll be swept up by parades featuring energetic marching bands and nimble step dancers along Columbus Drive, lighting up the streets with their joyous performances.

A signature spectacle is when they dye the Chicago River brilliant green – a sight that truly embodies St. Patrick’s Day in this metropolis. But don’t worry – it won’t harm Mother Nature as this official city celebration uses environmentally friendly dyes only.

Check out these stunning visuals captured during past events, showcasing how beautifully emerald waves flow through downtown buildings’ architecture creating quite an unforgettable scene.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day here means not just embracing fun but also remembering our roots – particularly those rooted deep into Ireland soil since many of Chicago’s residents share a proud Irish lineage.

Chicago St. Patrick’s Day is not just about celebrating one day; it’s a month-long festival, each event echoing the lively spirit of its people and their love for this cherished tradition.

Irish pubs and live music sessions. They’re an integral part of the local scene, letting you soak up all that Ireland has to offer.

Key Takeaway: 

Chicago. This grand celebration isn’t complete without the energetic parades that fill the streets with life, or without witnessing firsthand the iconic tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green. Not to mention, vibrant pub scenes offering a taste of Ireland right in our city’s heart bring together locals and visitors alike for an unforgettable experience steeped in rich Irish American heritage.

The Spectacle of the Chicago River Dyeing

St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago isn’t just about parades and green beer. It’s also about the city turning one of its most iconic landmarks, the Chicago River , into a brilliant spectacle.

A river dyed green? You may question if it harms nature. But fear not. This tradition is an official city event that respects Mother Earth while providing an eye-catching show for spectators.

The dye used to create this vibrant color display is organic and safe for our environment, so you can enjoy without guilt. In fact, as per key stats from environmental studies over 50 years ago, they discovered this unique way to celebrate St.Patrick’s day with a splash (literally).

This practice uses environmentally friendly dyes which means no harm comes to aquatic life or water quality when we paint town emerald-green.

Magic in Action: The Dyeing Process

Imagine standing by on Columbus Drive or taking a stroll down Balbo Drive as early morning light peeks through skyscrapers – suddenly you witness something extraordinary happening right before your eyes. A fleet of boats cruises along dispensing what initially appears orange but soon transforms into an astonishingly brilliant shade of green – pure magic indeed.

thelimitlesscompass shared some fantastic photos during previous year celebrations showing exactly how enchantingly surreal these moments can be.

What to Expect?

This incredible show continues for approximately five hours, allowing locals and visitors to take in the marvelous sight. Whether you’re on a river cruise or standing on the Chicago Riverwalk, it’s an unforgettable experience that adds a special charm to St.Patrick’s Day celebrations.

But here is where things get interesting – this vibrant green color isn’t permanent. It fades away as the day progresses making way for usual blue hue once again.

visitors and locals alike to marvel at the radiant spectacle. The river’s emerald transformation isn’t just a sight to behold, it’s also a testament to Chicago’s commitment to eco-friendly practices and celebration of cultural traditions. So make sure you don’t miss this unique display that perfectly captures the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago.

Unforgettable Parade Experience at Chicago St. Patrick’s Day

Chicago is renowned for its annual St. Paddy’s day parades, but what sets them apart? Let’s dive into the heart of this vibrant tradition.

A highlight of the parade is undoubtedly the spectacle presented by marching bands and Irish step dancers from across the country. The sound of bagpipes fills Columbus Drive as marchers clad in green outfits sway to traditional tunes.

This grand display isn’t complete without mentioning one group – the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band . They’ve been a fixture in Chicago since 1926, spreading Irish culture through their stirring performances.

You’ll also get swept up by energetic high-kicking routines performed by skilled Irish step dancers. It’s not just an event; it becomes part of your rhythm too.

Columbus Drive transforms into a hubbub on parade day, acting as both stage and spectator stand. With Millennium Park on one side and Grant Park on another, you’re surrounded by iconic sights while immersed in festive cheer.

This Instagram post gives you a taste of that energy captured during past celebrations.

In addition to honoring age-old customs like donning brilliant green attire or displaying shamrock decorations, Chicago has incorporated unique elements over time – such as ensuring environmentally friendly practices are followed during these large-scale events .

So, whether you’re a local or visiting from out of town, don’t miss this annual spectacle. You’ll be partaking in one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades and immersing yourself in an unforgettable cultural experience.

Exploring Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day: Must-Visit Spots

The vibrant city of Chicago bursts into brilliant green each year for St. Patrick’s Day, turning it into a haven for those looking to celebrate the Irish tradition.

You can’t truly experience St. Patrick’s day without visiting some of the best pubs in town that turn this holiday into an unforgettable event. The Kerryman Irish Bar & Restaurant is known to serve traditional corned beef and offer refreshing green beer which makes it one great spot to enjoy the festivities.

A little closer to downtown, after you’ve soaked up all the fun from parade along Columbus Drive, make sure not to miss out on D4 Irish Pub & Café too – another gem renowned for its warm hospitality and amazing selection of food and drinks during this festive season.

Check out the range of bars and eateries in town where you can savor local specialties while listening to live music or simply conversing with other patrons who share your enthusiasm.

Take a look at how our followers enjoyed their time last year at these top spots.

If pub hopping isn’t your thing but you still want something unique then why not consider an architecture river cruise? On such cruises like Chicago Line Cruises’ Architectural Tour, not only do you get stunning views of buildings lit up against the night sky but also witness how emerald green dye transforms the iconic Chicago Riverwalk – making it yet another must-visit spot during this holiday.

The Chicago River turns into a dazzling display of emerald green color, that stays for about five hours. This environmentally friendly celebration is something you won’t want to miss.

Last but not least, no St. Patrick’s Day would be complete without wearing at least one item in the traditional brilliant green. Luckily, shops all around the city offer special discounts and have an amazing variety of outfits to help you get into the spirit.

Experience Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day in full swing by visiting top Irish pubs like The Kerryman and D4 for traditional fare, green beer, and warm hospitality. If pub-hopping isn’t your style, opt for an architecture river cruise to see the city lights and watch as the Chicago River transforms into a dazzling emerald spectacle. And remember, no celebration is complete without wearing some festive attire.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago: Events Beyond the Parade

Chicago offers a plethora of exciting events to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day beyond just the main parade. From neighborhood parades to festive parties, there are numerous ways for both locals and visitors alike to enjoy this beloved Irish holiday.

If you want more local flavor, be sure not to miss out on the South Side Irish Parade and the Northwest Side Irish Parade. These community-based celebrations bring an authentic touch of Ireland right into Chicago neighborhoods.

This year, these vibrant processions will kick off on Sunday, March 12th. So mark your calendars. You’ll get an intimate glimpse into how Chi-town celebrates its rich Irish heritage during one of America’s largest St Paddy’s day events.

A highlight from last year was seeing everyone dressed up in brilliant green outfits with plenty of laughter echoing down every street corner – it truly encapsulates what it means to celebrate St Patrick’s day in Chicago.

You don’t have only stick around parades; after all, ’tis a grand excuse for merrymaking. Several pubs host their own mini-festivals complete with live music and traditional corned beef meals that provide another fun way to join in on the festivities while enjoying some delicious grub as well.

BEST DATE FOOD Instagram Post , shows how people enjoyed dining at these venues last year – I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

For a more family-oriented experience, the Irish American Heritage Center’s St Patrick’s Day Festival offers fun activities like dance performances and face painting to celebrate the vibrant culture and traditions of Ireland. For example, the Irish American Heritage Center hosts a St Patrick’s Day Festival that offers fun activities like dance performances and face painting.

the vibrant culture and traditions of Ireland. It’s a fun, family-friendly event that lets your children experience the richness of Irish heritage firsthand.

Center. It’s not just about the parades and pubs though. Families can enjoy activities at the Irish American Heritage Center, where there are loads of things to do for kids and adults alike. So whether you’re into traditional meals, live music or local festivities, Chicago’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations have something for everyone.

Embracing Chicago’s Rich Irish Heritage

Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are not just about wearing a green outfit or joining the crowd at Columbus Drive for the parade. It’s more about acknowledging and appreciating Chicago’s rich Irish heritage .

A key event that showcases this deep-rooted connection is the St. Patrick’s Festival at the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) . The festival presents an authentic slice of Ireland in Chicago, making it one of the most anticipated events on every true-blue Chicagoan’s calendar.

The IAHC is a beacon for all things Irish, keeping alive traditions such as music, dance, and storytelling from across the Atlantic Ocean.

This vibrant cultural hub transforms into a lively celebration space during St. Patrick’s day where you can witness traditional performances by talented Irish step dancers and enjoy foot-tapping tunes from bands like Shannon Rovers – well-known rovers who’ve mastered playing melodious notes on their prized possession: The bagpipe.

An Instagram post shared last year by ‘thelimitlesscompass’, perfectly captures how people come together to celebrate these enchanting traditions during this special occasion.

In addition to cultural programs and performances featuring local talents, there are also language workshops where you can learn Gaelic – spoken fluently among first-generation immigrants but less so today amongst younger generations of Irish-Americans.

If learning new languages isn’t your thing though don’t worry, you can still indulge in some traditional Irish cuisine. There’s no better place to try authentic corned beef and cabbage or shepherd’s pie.

For the wee ones, there are special activities designed to keep them engaged while introducing them to their cultural heritage. So it’s a family affair that guarantees fun for everyone.

Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day is more than just a parade; it’s a vibrant tribute to the city’s deep Irish roots. The festival at the Irish American Heritage Center offers an authentic taste of Ireland, from traditional music and dance performances to language workshops and delicious cuisine. It serves as a lively family-friendly celebration where all generations can connect with their cultural heritage.

FAQs in Relation to Chicago St Patricks Day

Chicago celebrates with a river dyeing spectacle, vibrant parades, lively pub gatherings, and local neighborhood events reflecting its rich Irish heritage.

In 2023, the tradition of dyeing the river green is expected to happen on March 17th, aligning with St. Patrick’s Day.

Absolutely. From locals to tourists alike, they flock to enjoy various festivities that transform the city into an Irish wonderland every year.

Dyeing the river green has been a beloved tradition in Chicago since 1962. It pays homage to Ireland and brings joyous visual flair to their celebrations.

Now you’re ready to dive into the heart of Chicago St Patrick’s Day . You’ve got the inside scoop on how this beloved tradition transforms a bustling city into an Irish spectacle.

You know about the eco-friendly dyeing of Chicago River, creating a brilliant green spectacle. You can feel the energy of marching bands and step dancers in your bones already.

You have earmarked must-visit spots for traditional corned beef and green beer. And, let’s not forget about neighborhood parades that paint every corner with joyous celebrations!

So grab your best emerald outfit, soak up Chicago’s rich Irish heritage, and be part of one unforgettable celebration!

Chicago St. Patrick's Day

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Valentine’s premier plus dinner cruise on the chicago river.

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Revel in an unparalleled evening with your special someone aboard our Chicago Premier Plus Valentine’s Day Dinner cruise. Panoramic views of the city’s unique architecture will dazzle you from our glass-enclosed vessel on the Chicago River. Savor a delicious three-course meal and specialty cocktails as we cruise under the city’s famous bridges and past iconic landmarks including Navy Pier and the Willis Tower. Our exceptional service and masterful DJ create a most romantic atmosphere on our boat’s climate-controlled interior and open-air deck. Make life-long memories with your loved one aboard a spectacular Valentine’s Day celebration as you dine and dance on the alluring Chicago River. Enjoy the early bird discount code VDAY20 for 20% off cruises that run from 2/1 to 2/17. Offer valid between 1/15 to 1/21.

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On Chicago River hot tub boats, the good times are rolling — maybe too good

A headshot of Jack Grieve.

Jack Grieve is a Crain’s reporter covering the news people are talking about, from Chicago and West Michigan to Cleveland , Detroit and New York .

Hot tub cruise

Don Julio Reposado is the drink of choice for the first cruise group of the day. It's a Wednesday and not even 1 p.m. yet, but this is a hot tub on the Chicago River in the middle of winter. It's no place for conventions.

The docks are located at the lower level of the iconic Marina City towers. Candle mood lighting and flower bouquets do their best to distract from the dumpsters and loading docks that surround the waiting area.

The first group comes prepared with grapefruit juice to use as a mixer, ear muffs to keep warm and a selfie stick to document the experience. The rental company provides a portable speaker. Their sail-off song: "Fuck The Club Up" by Waka Flocka Flame.

A separate group boards the second tub. One woman wears a captain hat, although she's not the designated driver. That's the role of another guest who is supposed to be wearing an orange wristband to show his status as the sober navigator. But there's no orange wristband on this boat, and the responsibility of skipper shifts as freely as their bottle of wine changes hands.

green river cruise chicago

It's been just over a month since the Chicago Electric Boat Co. launched the city's first hot tub cruise program . The season has largely been a success in the eyes of company president Ron Silvia, who said the company has fulfilled more than 100 reservations and is almost entirely booked through March.

The cruises are wildly popular and offer a unique way to experience the city. The vessels float freely around the main stem of the Chicago River and provide exceptional views of the downtown skyline from the comfort of a relaxing warm tub. "Especially at night, the lights of the city," Silvia said of the appeal, "it's pretty awesome."

Awesome as it may be, the first month of the hot tub program has not gone without incident. Just two weeks after the boats debuted, a video surfaced on social media that appeared to show two individuals engaging in sexual intercourse aboard one of the hot tub boats.

"While our team likes to promise customers the ride of their lives, those folks certainly took that idea to a whole new level," Silvia wrote in a statement to Crain's. "The actions in the video were firmly against the policies we have in place, which are outlined in the waiver each guest signs, as well as the law."

Silvia said the Chicago Police Department is looking into the incident. He emphasized that the boats undergo an extensive sanitization process between each rental "allowing customers to cruise with peace of mind."

The incident is an extreme example of the free-for-all nature of the hot tubs. Drivers of the boats are not licensed. Groups are encouraged to stay within eyesight of the docks, but that is not strictly enforced. As is the case for any unsupervised boat rental, it's nearly impossible to ensure the sobriety or attentiveness of the vessel operator.

green river cruise chicago

Silvia said the company terminates any cruise in which passengers are not following the rules. "I don't mess around, this is not my first rodeo," he said.

Still, the leisure boats have caused some issues for other parties that share use of the river. While the winter months turn the main stem into a near ghost town, a few vessels continue to operate, including the Wendella Architecture Tours.

"The rate at which our captains are reporting negative interactions with these craft are at a pretty high rate," said Andrew Sargis, chief of operations at Wendella. "We are not at all adverse to new craft on the river, but this particular type of attraction has been mostly a disappointment."

Sargis said he sees potential for something like the hot tub program to work but said the nature of the way the vessels currently operate is a safety concern, even during the slower months. That's in part because the operator of the boat has to be physically inside the hot tub itself. "The actual setup of the vessel ensures that whoever is operating it is distracted," he said.

green river cruise chicago

The CEBC plans to suspend the hot tub boat program in April when river traffic picks up.

Silvia pointed out that the hot tub boats move extremely slow, about 1 mph, and passengers are given detailed instructions on how to navigate the vessel.

"We orient every customer, we don't just let people go out on the water," he said, noting that the company has been renting boats and instructing passengers how to operate them for 13 years. "I want people to be safe and have fun and enjoy the city."

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  23. Chicago St Patricks Day 2024

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