Explore Chicago Through Emerald Eyes This March with Events That Celebrate Irish Culture and Tradition

CHICAGO (February 8, 2012) – Don your best green outfit, or a kilt if you dare, and embrace all Chicago has to offer for those Irish at heart during St. Patrick’s Day. From lively parades and the green-dyed Chicago River to parties at hotels and pubs, Chicago visitors of all ages can “go green” all across town.


It must be the luck of the Irish: St. Paddy’s falls on a Saturday this year and locals and visitors alike will be celebrating throughout the weekend and in the days leading up to the holiday. Approximately 400,000 people are expected to come to the Loop area for the spectacular parade and to catch a glimpse of the river dyed with brilliant shades of emerald green for the occasion.


“Chicago offers family friendly fun, especially during this spirited holiday,” said Dorothy Coyle, Executive Director, Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture. “The dyeing of the river is a beloved tradition for many generations of Chicagoans. The parades and many other celebrations make Chicago a perfect getaway for a day trip or weekend stay.”


For help planning your trip and additional event and attraction details, visit the city of Chicago’s official tourism website,



Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade – FREE

Saturday, March 17

Arrive early to get the best viewing spots as theChicago Riveris colored with 45lbs of environmentally-friendly green dye at 10:45 a.m. near Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. Then catch the colorful parade floats, musicians and dancers on Columbus Drive, beginning at Balbo Drive at 12 p.m. and ending at Monroe Drive.


South Side Irish Parade – FREE

Sunday, March 11

An old favorite returns to Chicago’s South Side with a focus on family and Irish heritage. The Beverly neighborhood parade steps off at 11:30 a.m. on Western Avenue and runs from 103rd to 115th Street.


Northwest Side Irish Parade – FREE

Sunday, March 11

Enjoy the newest of the annual parades when this fun-filled community event steps off at 12 p.m. at Raven Street and Northwest Highway near William J. Onahan School in the Norwood Park neighborhood.


Festivals & Special Events

Chicago Irish Film Festival

March 2-7
Culture buffs wanting a head-start on the festivities should check out this six-day showcase, a cinematic celebration of new Irish films, insightful documentaries and highly anticipated shorts held at Beverly Arts Center.


The Chieftains 50th Anniversary Tour 2012: Voice of Ages at Symphony Center

Friday, March 2
The Chieftains, the popular Grammy® Award winning Irish folk band, appears at Symphony Center for a performance at 8 p.m. as part of their 50th anniversary tour. Start your St. Patrick’s Day celebration early with Ireland's musical ambassadors.

It’s the Real McCoy presented by the Irish-American Heritage Center
March 9-10

Get ready for an action-packed night of theater, direct from Ireland, as a brand new three-act Irish comedy comes to theIrish-American Heritage Center for two nights only. Set in rural Ireland in 1964, what unfolds on stage is a combination of high drama, amazing Irish wit and a happy ending.


South Side Irish Family Fest

March 9-11
Before the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, bring your “wee folks” to the Beverly Arts Center to celebrate Irish culture while enjoying live entertainment, crafts, food and beverages.


St. Patrick’s Festival at the Irish-American Heritage Center

Saturday, March 17

After Saturday’s downtown parade, head north to the Irish-American Heritage Center for contemporary and traditional Irish music, dance, food and activities at this family-oriented annual event from 1p.m. to midnight.


St Patrick’s Day Celebration at Navy Pier – FREE

Saturday, March 17

Join Navy Pier after the downtown parade for an exciting afternoon of Irish dance by Trinity Irish Dancers and live music by Anish from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Family Pavilion Stage.


Sightseeing: See Chicago Through “Irish Eyes”


Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises

Saturday, March 17

These popular cruises include a traditional Irish buffet, cash bar and a 90-minute tour of all three branches of the Chicago River. Feast on favorites including Corned Beef and Cabbage and Bread Pudding, and warm up with a cup of Irish Coffee. Professional docents will entertain with stories of how the Irish shaped modern Chicago while you enjoy the scenic views. Cruises are scheduled before and after the downtown Chicago parade, departing at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Navy Pier.


Chicago History Museum presents Erin Go Beer! Irish Pubs of Chicago

March 8, 11, 15

Explore your inner leprechaun on this trolley tour that visits various Irish pubs. Enjoy a foamy brew while chatting about each stop and hear about the Irish in Chicago and the history behind St. Patrick’s Day.


Chicago Greeter Tours – FREE

Get the inside scoop on the City’s rich Irish-American heritage from an enthusiastic, knowledgeable local during a free Chicago Greeter walk around the city. Eco-conscious travelers can explore the other side of “Green” Chicago with a visit to Chicago’s green buildings and park space. Customized for small groups up to six people, these insightful two- to four-hour introductions can be reserved at 7-10 days in advance.


Chicago Neighborhood Tours presents Bridgeport

Saturday, March 31

The city’s historically Irish-American Bridgeport neighborhood comes alive, revealing a rich history that sheds light on its working-class past. Chicago Neighborhood Tours are half-day motor coach trips that offer fully-planned itineraries and an expert local guide to lead the way. These affordable and convenient excursions depart from the Chicago Cultural Center at 10 a.m. and can be booked at


Green Grub and Irish Pubs

Visitors staying in the Loop don’t have to venture far to find some of Chicago’s best Irish pubs. Poag Mahone’s, Timothy O’Toole’s, Kitty O’Shea’s, and Emerald Loop are some downtown favorites. Looking for a laugh? Head to the Green Door Tavern, built just a year after the Chicago Fire and said to be the city’s oldest tavern, on Friday night, March 2, and witness the Speakeasy Improv Players in action. Throughout the neighborhoods, popular bars will celebrate into the night, such as Temple Bar in Lakeview, Mrs. Murphy's & Sons Irish Bistro in North Center and The Abbey, home to live music, good food and an annual all-day St. Patrick’s Day festival of their own. Two Irish-owned restaurants are sure to please St. Patrick’s Day appetites: The Gage on South Michigan Avenue offers a contemporary American menu of Irish classics with a twist, while the Irish Oak features traditional St. Patrick’s Day pub fare and great Irish brews on tap.

Hotels With a View

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, the AAA Five Diamond hotel known for its spectacular bird’s eye views of Lake Michigan, the Chicago River and the city’s historic architecture – will re-introduce its St. Patrick’s Day Skyboxes in conjunction with the dyeing of the Chicago River green and the Columbus Drive parade. Located in the hotel’s four spacious salons on the 17th Floor, the Skyboxes can accommodate up to 40 people for a unique, cheerful outing with the choice of either a breakfast or lunch package featuring traditional, gourmet Irish fare. In addition, Rebar, the hotel’s chic mezzanine-level lobby that overlooks the Chicago River, will offer a signature Shamrockatini cocktail, crafted to fill St. Patrick’s Day revelers with the “Luck o’ the Irish.”


Located across from the Michigan Avenue Bridge on Wacker Drive, the riverfront boutique Hotel 71 offers a prime central location between the nearby parade route and the dyeing of the river just across the street. In addition to spacious guestrooms with open views, its modern American tavern, Hoyt’s, on the first level has grand floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of the downtown scene.


Cozy seats on the plush windowsill cushions of Hotel Monaco Chicago’s rooms offer striking views from above the river without the crowds. This luxury Loop hotel is just steps from the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, as is its restaurant South Water Kitchen. For Midwestern neighbors looking for a deal while they’re in town, their License to Stay rate saves guests from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin 20% off their stay with a valid state driver’s license and promo code MIDWEST (valid Thursdays-Sundays through March 31).


See the downtown parade unfold right outside your hotel at the Renaissance Blackstone. Situated on South Michigan Avenue at Balbo Avenue, this distinct Chicago landmark blends classic architecture with contemporary design. For a sophisticated dining option, look out onto Michigan Avenue while enjoying Catalan fare at Mercat a la Planxa or grab a quick bite at Bodega No. 5 below.


Visitor Information Resources
Visitors and residents entertaining out-of-town guests will find helpful trip-planning tools and tips on Chicago’s top-ranked travel and tourism website, For daily alerts about things to do and see in Chicago, follow Explore Chicago on Twitter at (COTC’s free Twitter Concierge service @explorechicago) and on Facebook at Discover fun itineraries on the Explore Chicago blog at and on Foursquare at

Expert advice and information about the city’s events and attractions are also available at the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture’s Visitor Information Centers located across from Millennium Park in the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph Street, and at the historic Water Works pumping station, 163 E. Pearson Street.


Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture
The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture markets Chicago as a premier cultural destination to domestic and international leisure travelers; provides innovative visitor programs and services; and familiarizes visitors and residents with the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, cultural attractions and creative industries. The Chicago visitor industry serves 40 million visitors annually, generates $11 billion in direct spending and $616 million in taxes, and sustains 124,000 jobs. For more information, visit


Visiting Media Resources
Visiting journalists on assignment can receive assistance by calling 312.742.0821 or visiting – including help with accommodations and customized itineraries; story ideas, fact-checking and images; and the Passport to Chicago program with complimentary and discounted access to more than 100 cultural and tourist attractions.

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