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How To Enjoy St. Paddy’s Weekend in Chicago During or After Your Trade Show

If you spend St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, you’ll find a peaceful, quiet, reflective day spent with family. In Chicago, however, St. Patrick’s Day brings a week’s worth of festivities, parades and parties. This time of year, Chicagoans not only wear green for the holiday, but also dye the Chicago River green… along with their hair, their pets, their food and their beer!

There aren’t many cities in the world that celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like Chicago can. Whether you’re 100% Irish or just Irish one day a year, there are lots of ways to enjoy this festive holiday in Chicago. Learn how to embrace the emerald as a “Ch-Irish” citizen of Chicago! If you find yourself in Chicago before or after your Trade Show (such as the Housewares or America’s Beauty shows) or corporate event, here are a few of the best St. Patrick’s Day events in Chicago.

Parade & Green River

Yes, you read that right — the river turns green! On Saturday, March 12, the whole city turns to the luck of the Irish by dying the Chicago River green. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but has been independently tested to be environmentally safe. The same day, Chicago comes alive with the Downtown Chicago Parade at noon, which is broadcast live. Visitors and Chicagoans alike can view from a variety of places around the city for free, or purchase VIP seating on the parade grandstand for a fee.

Dine The Irish Way

With a rich Irish heritage, Chicago is amazingly in touch with Irish culture  and that’s no more evident than in the plethora of Irish food choices in the area. Visitors during St. Patrick’s Day can indulge in corned beef, Guinness, and green beer by taking advantage of some of the great food and drink specials from area restaurants and bars. Start with Bull and Bear for bottomless breakfast bites and a 22-oz mug that you can refill all day or Commonwealth Tavern before Saturday’s parade for a filling Irish breakfast, Bloody Marys and mimosas. Get your fill of more than a half dozen vendors on St. Patrick’s Day with Sauced Night Market, a regular event in Chicago that will be even more festive this month.


For eight years, the Hard Rock Café has been celebrating and making a difference on St. Patrick’s Day with the ShamROCKED event. This family-friendly (well, part of the day…) event features food (Jameson bacon cheeseburgers), drinks (Guinness anyone?) and fun (face-painting and games), with proceeds going to a local nonprofit that helps children and adults with disabilities live fuller, more independent lives. Stop by for live bagpipe performances and green beer.

Run Before You Celebrate

For the fitness minded among Chicago’s residents and visitors, St. Patrick’s Day offers a few short and long runs to celebrate the season (that is if your feet are not too tired). The Get Lucky Half Marathon and 7K on March 12 begins at Soldier Field and moves through Jackson Park. Another option is the St. Paddy’s Day 5k and 8k, with proceeds benefitting the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

If you celebrate with running, drinking, or eating, there’s something for you in Chicago during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday!

About the Author

Mary Rita Crowe was the Managing Director at Skyline Exhibits Chicago.

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