Don’t miss it! Chicago River to be dyed green this weekend for St. Patrick’s Day 2024


St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated every year on the 17th of March, is a cultural and religious festival originating from Ireland.

In honor of this day, the city of Chicago has a unique tradition that has become a major attraction – dyeing the Chicago River green. This weekend, the city will once again transform the river into a vibrant emerald spectacle.

History of the Tradition

The tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green started in 1962. The idea was conceived by Stephen Bailey, who was part of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union.

He proposed the idea after noticing that a plumber’s white overalls had been stained green from a dye used to detect leaks in the river. The city loved the idea and decided to incorporate it into the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

The Process of dyeing the river green

The process of dyeing the river green is fascinating. Early in the morning, members of the Plumbers Union board motorboats and begin the transformation.

They use an environmentally safe, orange-colored powder that turns green upon contact with water.

The powder is poured into the river, and as the boats move up and down, the dye disperses, turning the river a bright, festive green. The entire process takes about 45 minutes, and the color lasts for about five hours.

The Parade in Chicago

The dyeing of the river is not the only event that takes place. It is followed by the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the largest parades in Chicago.

The parade features colorful floats, marching bands, traditional Irish dancers, and thousands of spectators dressed in green.

The parade route starts at Balbo Drive and continues north on Columbus Drive, with the best viewing spot being the Buckingham Fountain.

Other Celebrations in Chicago

In addition to the river dyeing and parade, there are numerous other events and celebrations around the city.

Many local pubs and restaurants offer special menus and live music. There are also several cultural and historical exhibits that showcase Irish heritage and traditions.

Tips for Visitors

If you plan to attend the festivities, here are a few tips:

  • Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot for the river dyeing.
  • Dress warmly as March weather in Chicago can be unpredictable.
  • Use public transportation as parking can be difficult to find.
  • Remember to wear green.
Don't miss it! Chicago River to be dyed green this weekend for St. Patrick's Day 2024 1

Here’s what you need to know to experience the magic:

  • When: The dyeing kicks off at 10:00 am sharp on Saturday, March 16th. Don’t be late – the festive transformation unfolds quickly!
  • Where: The best viewing spots are along the Chicago River, between State Street and Columbus Drive. Upper Wacker Drive and nearby bridges offer prime vantage points, as the lower Riverwalk will be closed for the event.
  • The Greening Process: Watch in awe as plumbers strategically release a special, eco-friendly dye from boats. Within minutes, the river will morph into a mesmerizing emerald spectacle.
  • The Celebration Continues: The dyeing ceremony is just the beginning! The festive energy explodes with the St. Patrick’s Day parade following shortly after at 12:15 pm. Expect vibrant floats, lively music, and a contagious Irish spirit filling the air.

Bonus Tip: For a truly unforgettable experience, consider booking a Chicago River cruise. These special St. Patrick’s Day cruises provide a front-row seat to the dyeing, along with festive onboard entertainment and delightful Irish treats!

Don’t just see green, experience it!

Chicago’s emerald river is a sight to behold, a vibrant symbol of the city’s Irish heritage and lively St. Patrick’s Day spirit.

So, pack your green attire, bring your cameras, and be prepared to be charmed by this unique Chicago tradition.


The dyeing of the Chicago River green is a unique tradition that adds a touch of magic to the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Chicago.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, it’s an event that’s not to be missed. So, come and join the city in its vibrant celebration this weekend.