Chicago, IL

Experience the magic: Where to view the St. Patrick's Day Chicago River dyeing

Jennifer Geer

Chicago's iconic St. Patrick's Day tradition of turning its river a vibrant green continues another year. From the best free viewing spots to the ultimate in luxury viewing, we've got you covered.

(CHICAGO) The Chicago River will once again turn green on Saturday, March 11. The dyeing crews start in the morning from Columbus Drive to State Street, and the whole affair is followed by the St. Patrick's Day Parade kicking off in Grant Park.

"The countdown is on for one of Chicago’s most beloved traditions," according to a recent Choose Chicago's Instagram post.

When does it happen?

Saturday, March 11th at 10 AM.

How long does the river stay green?

Back in the day, the emerald green color came from an oil-based product and lasted at least a week. These days, the more environmentally safe orange powder (it turns green when it hits the water) only lasts about 24 to 48 hours.

Best free spots for viewing the Chicago River Dyeing

If you'd like to keep things free and don't mind crowds (as in 400,000 spectators crowding around the river), rise and shine early to snag your viewing spot along the Chicago River.

Chicago Riverwalk: It's free, but expect it to be crowded. The best viewing spot will be between Columbus Drive and State Street.

Columbus Drive Bridge: Claim your spot here and you'll be close to where the parade kicks off.

Michigan Avenue Bridge: This is a top spot to get a view which means it fills up fast.

State Street Bridge: You'll get great views of the river, but expect early crowds.

If you don't mind paying for tickets, and you'd like to rise above the crowds while maybe sipping a mimosa while you watch the festivities, here is our list of restaurants and bars with optimal views of the river.


Enjoy your choice of green beer, mimosas, bloody marys, and signature cocktails with an expansive Irish-inspired brunch buffet. The rooftop bar on top of the Renaissance Hotel at 1 W. Wacker Drive is offering adult-only tickets for $175. The event lasts from 9 AM to noon.

RPM Seafood

From 9 AM to noon, guests can watch the river from floor-to-ceiling windows while enjoying brunch, seafood stations, and a premium bar package at RPM Seafood located at 317 N. Clark. This event is for adults only. Tickets are $195.

Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown

Watch the river dyeing from 39 floors above at the Royal Sonesta at 71 E. Wacker Drive. The event runs from 8 AM to noon and includes breakfast and Irish-inspired cocktails. Tickets are $75 for kids and $120 for adults.

Wendella St. Patrick's Day Cruise

Grab a front-row seat of the river dyeing aboard an adults-only cruise. Tickets are $80 and include three drink tickets in the price.


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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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