Shamrock shakes—an annual tradition, just like our use of this photo. Credit: Kevin Warwick

Ah, Saint Patrick’s Day—Chicago’s annual excuse to dye the river from a sick shade of sewage olive to a sick shade of kelly green. The March 17 holiday falls on a Thursday this year, but most of the big happenings, like the parades and the aforementioned river staining, go down this weekend. Here’s some of what we recommend to pair with your daytime drinking. 

Chicago Shamrock Crawl If you’re into wearing a green tutu, get decked out for this Saint Patrick’s bar crawl through Wrigleyville. If not, avoid the neighborhood like the plague today. You’ll thank us. Sat 3/12, 8 AM-2 PM, John Barleycorn, 3524 N. Clark, 773-549-6000,, $35.
Chicago Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
The annual parade travels north on Columbus from Balbo to Monroe, with a viewing stand at Buckingham Fountain. This year’s grand marshal is Illinois speaker of the house Michael J. Madigan, and the day features all things Irish, including bagpipes, Irish step dancers, and a whole lot of shamrocks. Sat 3/12, noon, Balbo and Columbus, Balbo and Columbus, Free.

Dyeing the Chicago River The Chicago River goes green for the day in one of Chicago’s most steadfast traditions. Get this year’s best views between Columbus and Wabash. Sat 3/12, 9 AM, Chicago River between State and Columbus, Free

FitzGerald’s Saint Patrick’s Day Festival A full day of live music and dance from groups like Switchback and the Colleens Irish Stepdancers, the Dooley Brothers, Beatles Band, and Cannonball. Sat 3/12, 1 PM, FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn, 708-788-2118,, $15.

Gaelic Storm The Celtic-rock giants play a pair of shows. Fri 3/11-Sat 3/12, 6:30 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, 312-923-2000,, $36.

Green Eggs and Hamburger Parts and Labor hosts a Saint Patrick’s Day brunch. RSVP for a free shot of Jameson. Sun 3/13, Parts and Labor, 2700 N. Milwaukee, 773-360-7840,

IAHC Saint Patrick’s Day Festival The daylong fest features traditional and contemporary Irish music, Irish step dance performances, food, children’s activities, and a craft fair featuring Irish goods. Sat 3/12, 1 PM-midnight, Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, 773-282-7035,

Leprechaun Leap A Saint Patrick’s Day 5K run/walk and 8K run through Lincoln Park benefits the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Themed refreshments and live Irish music will be on site. John Barleycorn hosts the postrace party. Sat 3/12, 8 AM, Lincoln Park, Cannon, north of Fullerton,, $42-$55.

Lucky Charms Amanda Lepore headlines this night of drag performances and dancing with music from Spice Boy and Claudia De Châlon. Thu 3/17, 10 PM, Berlin, 954 W. Belmont, 773-348-4975,, $10.

Northwestside Irish Parade The neighborhood parade celebrates members of the humanitarian group Brave Hearts Riding. Sun 3/13, noon, 6633 W. Raven, Free.

Off the Paddy Wagon The drinking-game comedy show goes green with Saint Patrick’s Day-themed sketches. Wed 3/16-Sat 3/19, 8 PM, Cornservatory, 4210 N. Lincoln, 773-650-1331,, $10-$15.

The Shamrock Bounce Hot and Bothered hosts an “intimate dance party” featuring music from deejays Paul Johnson, Mike Dunn, Molly Bass, and the Asian Bodybuilding Club. Sat 3/12, 10 PM-5 AM, Evil Olive, 1551 W. Division, 773-235-9100,, $10.

South Side Irish Parade A celebration of all things Irish starting at West 103rd and Western and finishing at West 115th. This year’s parade grand marshals are the South Siders Fighting Childhood Cancer. Sun 3/13, noon, Western between W. 103rd and W. 115th, Free.

Saint Patrick Slammer This Saint Patrick’s Day celebration features music by Melkbelly and the Man, specials on Irish whiskeys, and free “Irish tacos.” Thu 3/17, 9 PM, East Room, 2828 W. Medill, 773-276-9603, Free.

Saint Pat’s Trolley Tour and Bar Crawl A bar crawl through Lincoln Park featuring stops at bars like O’Malley’s West and Lion Head Pub. The journey includes a Saint Pat’s medallion, a photo hunt, drink specials, and gift cards. Sat 3/12, 8 AM-2 PM, Joe’s, 940 W. Weed, 312-337-3486,, $24.

Saint Patrick’s Day at Headquarters The arcade bar hosts an “Irish buffet of libations” featuring mimosas, Bloody Marys, and beer. Sat 3/12, 10 AM, Headquarters Beercade, 950 W. Wolfram, 773-665-5660,, $25.

Saint Patrick’s Day Backyard Bash Chef Kevin Hickey hosts an all-you-can-eat Irish pizza party to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Sun 3/13, noon, the Duck Inn, 2701 S. Eleanor, 312-724-8811,, $25, $20 in advance.

Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration This all-day celebration starts off with Irish Catholic mass, then features performances by Kathleen Keane and Friends, the O’Hare School of Irish Dance, Chancey Brothers, Trinity Irish Dancers, and Without U2. Thu 3/17, 11 AM-8 PM, Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox, 773-282-7035,, $10.

Saint Patrick’s Day River Crawl Begins at Boss Bar and includes stops at five more River North drinking establishments, including Reverie and Social 25. Guests collect $25 in gift cards along the way. Sat 3/12, 8 AM-noon, Boss Bar, 420 N. Clark, 312-527-1203,, $30.