Illinois, Local, Spring

St Patrick’s Day in Chicago: 15 Fun Things to do with Friends and Family

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I'm an award-winning senior portrait and family photographer based out of Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. I love sunshine, cacti, chocolate chips, and a great cup of tea - but most of all I love photographing joyful clients. :)
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Mother and daughter smiling with white flowers during their St Patrick's Day in Chicago photoshoot

Coming from the west coast, St Patrick’s Day was never a big deal. But, St Patrick’s Day in CHICAGO, however…is a really big deal! Here are some great family-friendly St Patrick’s Day parades, festivals, and fun runs in Chicagoland so you can find something fun near you and get in the spirit!

Mother hugging young daughter under a tree with white flowers. Both are wearing pink floral dresses for their St Patrick's Day in Chicago photoshoot

St Patrick’s Day in Chicago | River Dyed Green

In 2024 the Chicago river will be dyed green on Saturday, March 16 at 9 AM, and will remain green for a few days! The river is dyed each year by the Chicago Plumbers Local 130 Union and the dye is nontoxic and safe for the river. The best place to view the river is along the Riverwalk, along Upper Wacker Drive or between the State and Columbus bridges. Go early to avoid crowds and those who have drunk a little too much.

Mother and daughter smiling with white flowers during their St Patrick's Day in Chicago photoshoot

St Patrick’s Day Parades | Chicago

There are loads of fun family-friendly St Patrick’s Day parades in Chicago! Read on to find an option near you. 🙂

Chicago Downtown

One of the largest St Patrick’s Day Parades in the country, the Chicago St Patrick’s Day Parade is on Saturday, March 16 at 12:15 PM following the green river dyeing at 9 AM. The parade goes along Columbus Drive between Balbo Drive and Monroe Drive. On display are The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band, floats, Irish dancers, pipe bands, and more! The parade is about 3 hours long!

Chicago North Side – Norwood Park

In the district of Norwood Park, the Northwest Side Irish Parade is a fun way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Chicago! It begins at William J. Onahan School (6634 West Raven St) at 12 PM on March 17, 2024, goes southwest along Neola Ave, then northwest along N Northwest Highway.

Chicago South Side – Beverly

The South Side Irish Parade in the Chicago district of Beverly, which is one of Chicago’s largest Irish communities. The parade will be on Sunday, March 17, 2024 at 12 PM. It goes along Western Ave between 103rd St and 115th St.

The story behind this parade is really sweet. Originally, the Chicago St Patrick’s Day Parade was held on the south side until 1960 when it moved to downtown Chicago. In 1979, two residents of the district decided to start a new parade in Beverly as a means of recapturing the hometown fun they experienced in their youth. What started as a handful of children parading down the sidewalk soon grew to today’s large and joyful parade. 🙂

Forest Park

The Forest Park, IL St Pat’s Parade in 2024 is on March 2 at 1 PM and goes down Madison St from west to east. Parking can be a real challenge. I suggest you park north of Washington or south of Jackson or Harrison. And, while you’re in downtown Forest Park, I recommend visiting Kribi Coffee for a caffeine pick me up! This parade hosts MANY police cars, fire engines, and noisy vehicles – if you’re sensitive to sound, consider bringing ear plugs!


For 2024, the Elmhurst St Pat’s Parade is on March 9 at 12 PM at the Wilson St and Spring Roads intersection. It will then continue north on Spring Rd and end one block south of St Charles Rd. In addition to floats, marching bands, and Irish dancers, the Elmhurst Armpit Orchestra may make an appearance! ?


Naperville’s St Patrick’s Day Parade will be held on March 9, 2024 at 10 AM. This parade is hosted by the West Suburban Irish organization. It will include pipe and drum bands and irish dancers. The crowd is expected to top 10,000, making this one of the larger parades in the suburbs! The parade route starts at Naperville North High School, and goes through downtown Naperville and ends at Naperville Central High School.


The Lemont St Patrick’s Day Parade is Saturday, March 9 at 1 PM! The parade route is down north Stephen St and then west on Main St. Also, Lemont hosts a St Patrick’s Day Festival at the Forge at the Lemont Quarries. But, it does not appear to be happening in 2024.

St Charles

The St Charles St Patty’s Day Parade is on Saturday, March 9, 2024. It starts at 2 PM at the intersection of 6th St and Main and ends at 4th Avenue. There is an Opening Ceremony with pipes and music at 11 AM at 1st St Plaza. If you’re looking for a cute photo op, check out the Lucky Photo Station across the street from the Pollyanna Brewing Company.

Grainy black and white photo of a mother hugging her daughter during their St Patrick's Day in Chicago photoshoot

St Patrick’s Day Festivals in Chicagoland

Chicago – West Loop: Shamrock’n the Block; St Patrick’s Day Block Party

Old St Pat’s Church is hosting a pop-up Irish Pub for their annual Shamrock’n Event. This is a particularly family-friendly event that includes activities for kids. The event requires tickets to get in and takes place on Saturday, March 16. New for 2024, the celebration will be held at 625 W. Adams, across the street from Old St Pat’s. Admission is free for kids under 5 and includes a kids meal, and $10 for kids 6-10 and includes a kids meal. For adults, general admission is $25, while an adult pub pass is $50 and comes with 3 drinks and a meal. This event offers pipe bands, Irish dancers, and a balloon artist to name a few!

Chicago – Wrigleyville: St Patrick’s Day on Gallagher Way

This is a free event offering live music and Irish dancing, along with lots of activities for kids including face painting, lawn games, and arts and crafts! Festive alcoholic drinks are served as well for the older crew. In 2024 this festival will be on Sunday March 10 from 11 AM to 3 PM at Gallagher Way in the Wrigleyville district, 3635 N Clark St.

Chicago – Northside; Mayfair: St Patrick’s Day Festival at the Irish American Heritage Center

Another St Patrick’s Day in Chicago family-friendly celebration is the St Patrick’s Day Festival at the Irish American Heritage Center. It showcases loads of Irish music and dancing, food and drink, and gifts for sale at the Arts and Crafts Fair. While as of this writing the Irish American Heritage Center has not shared the festival date and time, it is typically right after the downtown Chicago parade (which is on March 16 in 2024). Tickets are required and are $15 for adults purchased in advance and $20 for adults purchased the day of the celebration. Children 12 and under are free.

Little girl in pink floral dress running across a green field with yellow dandelions

St Patrick’s Day Runs in Chicago

Chicago – Shamrock Shuffle 8K

This is a beautiful run with 8K in downtown Chicago and 2K along the lakefront! The 2024 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle will be on March 24. It starts in Grant Park in downtown Chicago with gear checks starting at 7 AM and the first wave of runners starting at 8:30 AM. There is a post-race party at 1 PM at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. 🙂

Naperville – St Paddy’s Day 5K

Not a festival, but an honorable mention as it’s so popular! The Naperville Saint Paddy’s Day 5K is one of the first accredited 5ks in the country! It’s a popular run on March 9, 2024 starting at 8 AM from Naperville’s Centennial Beach at 500 Jackson Ave. Costumes are encouraged!

St Charles – Shamrock’n St Charles 8K

A walk/run starting in St Charles at Pottawatomie Park, then ending at Pollyanna Brewing Company with a post-race party. Shamrock’n St Charles takes place on March 9, 2024 at 10 AM, a few hours before the St Charles St Patrick’s Day parade.

Mother and daughter smiling with white flowers during their St Patrick's Day in Chicago photoshoot

I hope you found a fun way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Chicago! If you’re interested in a beautiful spring photoshoot I’d love to be your photographer. Reach out and let’s get planning! 🙂 Not quite ready for portraits? Sign up for my newsletter and stay in touch! 🙂

Kristen Hazelton is an award-winning Oak Park, IL (West Chicagoland) and Livermore, CA (San Francisco East Bay Area) graduating senior, and family photographer. She occasionally photographs in San Diego, CA, Tucson, AZ, and Seattle, WA. You can inquire about your own photoshoot here!

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