The best places to watch the Chicago River dyeing

The best places to watch the Chicago River dyeing

  • by Zach Long, Emma Krupp & Jeffy Mai
  • 03/8/23

As is tradition, the Chicago River will be turned green for St. Patrick's Day on Saturday, March 11. Crews start the process in the morning, working from Columbus Drive to State Street, and the dye typically lasts a day or two (here's how they dye the river). After the water changes colors, it's off to Grant Park for the Chicago St. Patrick's Day Parade. Whether you decide to crowd onto the Riverwalk or buy a ticket to a rooftop event, here's where you can watch the St. Patrick's Day Chicago River dyeing.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago

 

How do they dye the Chicago River green?

The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union 130 pours 50 pounds of dye into a quarter-mile stretch of the Chicago River over the course of 45 minutes.

When do they dye the Chicago River green?

Crews will begin dumping dye into the river at 10am on Saturday, March 11.

Why do they dye the Chicago River green?

In honor of St. Patrick's Day! The tradition was started in 1962 when members of the Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Local Union were feeling festive and decided to dump 100 pounds of dye into the water.

What is used to dye the Chicago River green?

The exact formula is a secret, but it’s an orange-red, vegetable-based powder.

Where to watch the Chicago River dyeing

Chicago Riverwalk

  • Things to do
  • Loop

 

You'll have to arrive early to get a great spot, but you won't have to shell out any cash for a spectacular view of the river dyeing on the Chicago Riverwalk. For the best views of the festivities, head for the portion of the walkway between Columbus Drive and State Street.

 

Michigan Avenue Bridge
Photograph: Max Herman

Michigan Avenue Bridge

 

Situated in the middle of Columbus Drive and State Street where the river dyeing action takes place, the Michigan Avenue Bridge is one of the most popular spots to get a view of the festivities. People show up to claim a spot on the bridge extra-early on the morning of the parade, so be prepared to stand on your toes if you roll out of bed late and show up when the dyeing begins.

 

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State Street Bridge
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

State Street Bridge

 

Gaze down on the western end of the Chicago River dyeing from atop the State Street bridge, which is typically lined with folks snapping pictures of the boats pouring out dye below. The views are free, but as with any other public, river-adjacent space, you'll have to claim your spot early if you want an unobstructed view.

 

Columbus Drive Bridge
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Columbus Drive Bridge

 

Columbus Drive wins points for its (slight) edge on proximity to the parade route compared to the other nearby river walkways. Once you've had your fill of watching the acid-hued dye flowing into the river, you can sneak out early and simply head south on Columbus Drive to grab a parade-side spot along Balbo Drive in Grant Park.

 

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LondonHouse Chicago

  • Things to do
  • Loop

 

Watch the river turn green from way up high at LondonHouse Chicago's St. Patrick's Day bash, where guests can imbibe bottomless green beer, dance to a live DJ, snack on breakfast bites and catch stunning views of the river dyeing revelry while atop the hotel's 22nd floor outdoor terrace (or from within the indoor lounge, if you're looking to stay warm). General admission tickets include St. Patty's Day swag, a four-hour open bar, breakfast and access to DJ areas, though you can also spring for VIP tables with bottle service.

 

 

RPM Seafood

  • Nightlife
  • Daytime parties
  • River North

 

Want to ball out before the St. Patrick's Day parade downtown? Watch the river turn green from RPM Seafood's floor-to-ceiling windows during this all-inclusive event, which includes passed appetizers, brunch and seafood stations, an open bar and more.

 

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Pizzeria Portofino

  • Things to do
  • River North

 

Pizza may not be the most authentic thing to eat during a St. Patrick's Day celebration, but who can resist its appeal? The riverfront restaurant offers great views of the water shifting colors, accompanied by cocktails, passed apps and plenty of 'za. Tickets start at $175—those who want to go all out have the option of reserving a VIP booth or patio table.

 

Travelle at The Langham

  • Things to do
  • River North

 

Snag a spot at Travelle at The Langham's bar and lounge to enjoy art-inspired cocktails and complimentary bar bites while taking in panoramic views overlooking the Chicago River. Reservations are $150 per person, with the deposit being applied toward the final bill.

 

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RAISED

  • Things to do
  • Loop

 

Looking out from the intersection of State and Wacker, you'll get a great perspective of the River Dyeing at RAISED, located atop the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel. Each ticket includes breakfast, green beer, mimosas and Bloody Marys—and it's just a short walk to the parade in Grant Park.

 

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago's First Lady Cruises

St. Patrick's Day Clover Cruise

 

Chicago's First Lady provides an up-close look at the green river via a series of two-hour St. Paddy's Day-themed Clover Cruises. For $109, you can climb aboard the stately ship and party amid shamrock decor, live bagpipers, Irish-themed cocktails and an open-air deck perfect for peeping the emerald waters below. Plus, all attendees get a corned beef sandwich. Cruises depart between 10am and 2pm.

 

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Wendella St. Patrick's Day Cruise
Photograph: Courtesy Wendella

Wendella St. Patrick's Day Cruise

 

Wendella offers a variety of cruises that allow you to take in the Chicago River Dyeing while on the water, including a 21+ curise that includes three drink tickets, a cash bar and a heated lounge to warm up in ($80). There's also a kid-friendly cruise that nixes the green beer (adults $45, kids $20).

 

The Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown

  • Things to do
  • Loop

 

The Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown is offering two ways for Chicagoans to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. For those who want an unparalleled view, take the elevator up to the penthouse on the 39th floor for a party that will feature a breakfast buffet, open bar, live DJ and more. You can also visit Hoyt's Tavern on the hotel's ground floor and watch the action unfold while sipping on a la carte specialty cocktails and green beer, and snacking on Irish-inspired dishes. Entry is free but groups can reserve a table for up to six people.

 

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Trump International Hotel and Tower

  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • River North

 

The hotel's Grand Ballroom is hosting a lavish ($145 for adults, $75 for kids) event, complete with a brunch buffet offering Irish-themed offerings and an open bar. In addition to sweeping views of the Chicago River, guests will also be treated to performances from the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band and the Sheila Healy Academy of Irish Dance Group. The events starts bright and early at 8am, but the Irish coffee bar should help you stay awake. Purchase tickets here.

 

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