Chicago, IL

The Best Activities and Events Happening in Chicago for St. Patrick's Day

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

They may not be dyeing the Chicago River green this year but there are still plenty of things you can do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day 2021.

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Credit: Steve Hardy on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Although last year at this time, the prediction was things would be back to normal in Chicago, Illinois by St. Patrick’s Day 2021, it’s hasn’t turned out that way. Yet bars and restaurants are starting to re-open indoor seating and other establishments are likewise carefully opening while continuing to follow social distancing precautions. While the traditional Chicago parades and the yearly dyeing of the Chicago River may not be occurring this year, there are still plenty of other things you can do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Chicago style both in person and virtually while still staying safe.

Take in Some Irish Culture in Chicago at the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC)

The IAHC will be throwing its annual St. Patrick's Day celebration however, like last year, it will be online again this year. But they are going all out to present a full program of Irish music, dance and poetry that you can watch on Facebook. presenting a lineup of Irish music, dance and poetry that you can watch on Facebook. It starts at 12:30pm on March 12th. Check out the IAHC website for a complete schedule of performers. Some of the great Chicago based performers that will be participating include:

  • Whiskey Mick
  • Kennedy's Kitchen
  • Shannon Rovers
  • Trinity Irish Dance
  • Joe and Declan McShane
  • STEAM Quartet

Enjoy Guinness Green Beer, Pizza and Irish Tunes at PB&J’s Pop-Up Bar Pot of Gold

If you’re still hesitant to celebrate indoors, PB&J’s will celebrate their first St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago by offering specials at their themed outdoor pop-up bar, Pot of Gold. They’ll be serving their famous Neapolitan Pizza, Guinness Beer that’s just the right shade of green and other food and drink. They’ll also be offering specials such as the “Leprechaun Package” which includes two pizzas, green beer, a bottle of booze, and party swag. March 13th, 8:00am to 11:00pm.

Ballydoyle Irish Restaurant and Pub at Downers Grove

Ballydoyle at Downers Grove is holding indoor festivities in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Just about 20 miles outside of Chicago, Ballydoyle at Downers Grove will start celebrating March 13th at 7:00pm with the Blarney Brothers and continues through March 14th with a “Safe” Patrick’s Family Day with Irish Brunch, Irish Dancers, live music and crafts for the kids. On March 17th, there will be Irish food, cocktails, beer and plenty of entertainment. Doors open at 8:00am and you have to be 21 or older to enter after noon.

Enjoy This Look at Chicago's Trinity Irish Dancers as They Celebrate St. Patrick's Day

Koval Virtual St. Patrick's Day Cocktail Class

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago with style with this great cocktail class. Join Chicago resident mixologist Zach Overstreet for an night of delicious cocktails you’ll learn to make. The taste of Koval spirits will give a unique taste to Irish Coffee, Beer Cocktails, and a lucky green drink.

The KOVAL Spirits that will be used include Oat Whiskey, Five Grain Whiskey and Barreled Gin though there are substitutes listed on the website. The shop and prep lists will be emailed to you as soon as you register and the Zoom link will be sent 24 hours before the event.

Celebrate the Whole Week at Finn McCool's Irish Sports Pub

Located just a few miles from Chicago in Schaumburg, prepare for Finn's Fest happening Friday through Wednesday, March 12-17, in the outdoor tented patio. They’ll have a DJ starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and Wednesday and at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Specials will be served including plenty of beer, corned beef sandwiches, their fork and knife Reuben and a corned beef and cabbage dinner. The pub opens at 11 a.m. daily but there is limited seating so get there early.

Participate in a Favorite Local Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Tradition: “You Can’t Drink All Day If You Don’t Start in the Mornin’”

Along with the Dyeing of the Chicago River, this event is probably one of the best-known St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Chicago. The party starts at eight different locations across the city, most of these being out-doors such as bars like Rizzo’s, The Lodge, and Joe’s with staggered start times throughout the day on March 13th. This event is taken quite seriously, with the website warning you, “This is a rain, shine, snow or zombie apocalypse type of event!!!” They don’t call it for any type of weather so keep that in mind if you intend to participate. If after an entire day of drinking you don’t feel like you’ve had enough, you can repeat it at a smaller version of the event on St. Patrick’s Day itself.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Stan’s Donuts

With nine Chicago area locations as well as others in nearby Illinois towns and cities, it’s easy to satisfy your sweet tooth while going green on St. Patrick’s Day. They’re offering specially made emerald-dipped doughnuts, Green River glazed doughnuts, green mint hot chocolate, Irish Cream cold brew and mint cream cold brew topped with cold foam, mint Oreo shakes and more. All of this is available through March 17. They have other food and drinks as well that you can order, but why would you want to?

Relax or Kick Up Your Heels at the St. Patrick's Day Yacht Party - Cruise on Lake Michigan (21+ Only)

Boat cruises on Lake Michigan are a time-honored Chicago tradition. On this St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll have seven opportunities to take one of these cruises aboard a three story 140-foot yacht. Enjoy stunning views of the lakefront, iconic Chicago landmarks and the breathtaking skyline. Stop by one of the multiple full bars for beer, wine and cocktails.

St. Paddy’s Day 5K and 8K Run/Walk

If you're ready to get out and take part in a race in-person in Chicago, the St. Paddy's Day 5K is returning to Diversey Harbor after being canceled last year, for a limited-capacity run. They are setting up three heats spaced throughout the morning on March 13. If you would prefer to run at home or in a less crowded atmosphere, you can sign up for the virtual event. Either way, you’ll receive a long-sleeve commemorative T-shirt, a finisher medal and a participant bib. If you’ve been eating and drinking all week already, or plan to do so later in the day or evening, this is a great way to get some exercise and work off some of those calories! It’s the 20-year anniversary of this favorite Lincoln Park lakefront run, in which runners and walkers in green will make their way through the Diversey Harbor and Belmont Harbor areas. Once the race is complete you can attend the afterparty and have a cold post-race beer.

For Something Completely Different, Go to a Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Bingo Party at Pot ‘o Gold Bingo at Whiskey Business

Yes, you read that right, it says bingo. Instead of doing the standard pub crawl, why not head over to one of the best rooftop bars in Wicker Park for an afternoon of Bingo. The fun starts at 2:30pm on March 13, along with bingo, the party include green beer, whiskey, corned beef, and raffle prizes.

Do the Shamrock Shuffle

This the Shamrock Shuffle will be virtual so instead of all gathering in Grant Park, this annual 8k run and 2-mile walk will occur in neighborhoods all over Chicago. The virtual format lets participants plan their own route and the time they want to start, providing it is between March 19th and March 21st. Everyone who registers receives a T-shirt and bib number.

Do you know of other St. Patrick Day events occurring in Chicago? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.

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