Toasting St. Pat

The Irish saint and his fans are back for a weekend packed with festivities.

A reveler at Milwaukee's St. Pat's Day parade.
Milwaukee's big St. Patrick's Day parade draws revelers from around the region.

Why do we love St. Patrick? Because when the landscape still is icy and white, he makes everything else turn green — clothes, beer, even rivers.

For that, the legendary Irish priest deserves sainthood.

Here are some good ways to celebrate his day in 2024.

Before you go, check websites for schedule changes.

Pub crawls and parties

In the Chicago suburb of St. Charles, the St. Pat's Celebration will include a downtown parade at 2 p.m. on March 9.

In northeast Illinois, there's a McHenry ShamRocks the Fox festival March 15-17. On Saturday, there's a 5K Shamrock Shuffle, the Fox River will be dyed green at 10 a.m. from the Pearl Street Bridge and the parade begins at noon. On Sunday, there will be music and kids' activities in Miller Point Park, plus fireworks at 7 p.m.

In Milwaukee, the big St. Pat's parade is at noon March 9. It starts at Third and Wisconsin downtown and is followed by music, dancing and pipes and drums at the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center.

In Chicago,  the St. Pat's Day parade is at 12:15 p.m. March 16 along Columbus Drive past Grant Park. The river dying is at 10 a.m. between State Street and Columbus Drive. The water stays green for about five hours.

The Chicago River dyed green.
In Chicago, the river is dyed green.

Also in Chicago, there's a parade at noon on the South Side March 17 and one on the Northwest Side at the same time. In nearby Palatine, there's an 11 a.m. parade March 16, followed by an Irish market and entertainment.

In traditionally Irish St. Paul, the annual parade is March 16. The Landmark Center on Rice Park is holding a a St. Patrick's Day Irish Celebration March 16 and a Day of Irish Dance March 17.

Normally, Metro Transit offers free rides home on buses and trains on the day of the parade (print or download the pass).

The city's early power brokers were Irish. Up on the hill, the James J. Hill House normally holds an Irish Heritage Weekend.

Across the street, tour the magnificent Cathedral of Saint Paul, commissioned by Archbishop John Ireland.

In Madison, the Shamrock Shuffle walk/run is on March 16. The St. Patrick's Day Parade is at 1:30 p.m. March 17 and proceeds around Capitol Square.

More parades

On the east shore of Lake Michigan, Ludington offers a parade, scavenger hunt, 5K-10K run and pub crawl. Two other towns on Lake Michigan hold March 16 parades: Holland at noon and Muskegon at 11 a.m.

In Galena, Ill., there's a St. Patrick's Day parade at 2 p.m. March 16.

In Minneapolis, the parade will be in the suburb of Columbia Heights, followed by a Blarney Blast party.

Trinity Irish Dancers perform.
The Trinity Irish Dancers are parade favorites.

In northwest Iowa, Emmetsburg is the state Irish capital, and it celebrates with a long weekend of festivities, including a parade at 1:30 p.m. March 16.

In eastern Iowa, the Cedar Rapids parade will be March 17.

In the Quad Cities, the St. Patrick's Day parade on March 16 starts at 11:30 a.m. in Rock Island, Ill., and crosses the Mississippi River to Davenport, Iowa.

In the Brainerd area of Minnesota, Crosslake's St. Patrick's Day Parade & Celebration is March 16.

Around Wisconsin, there are parades March 16 in Rhinelander, Fond du Lac, Prairie du Chien, La Crosse, Racine and Sturgeon Bay.

In the usually German capital of New Ulm in Minnesota, there's a downtown parade at 5 p.m. March 17.

St. Brendan's Inn in Green Bay.
In Green Bay, St. Brendan's Inn includes an Irish pub and restaurant.

Near Appleton, Wis., the festivities in New London — that is, New Dublin — start with Leprechaun Day on and wind up with Irish Fest and the Grand Parade at 1 p.m. March 16.

Irish dance

The Trinity Irish Dancers, from the Trinity Academy of Irish Dance branches in southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois, always have a very busy performance schedule around St. Patrick's Day.

They perform in pubs, libraries, museums and nearly every St. Pat's parade.

Music, beer and a bed

If you really like beer, you may want to stay put on the big day. Each of the Irish inns below has handsome rooms and a pub that serves up Irish specialties and live music. Check for on-line specials.

In the eastern Wisconsin town of Plymouth, Walk of the Irishman ends at 52 Stafford, an 1892 hotel renovated into a Irish inn with a beautiful restaurant and pub that features cherry millwork and Celtic-themed stained and etched glass.

Finland celebrates St. Urho's Day.
In Finland, Minn., there's a St. Urho's Day parade.

The Stafford has two sister inns, St. Brendan's in Green Bay and County Clare in Milwaukee. The St. Brendan's Inn is on the Fox River in downtown Green Bay.

On the edge of downtown Milwaukee, which has one of the region's biggest parades, the County Clare has comfortable rooms above the pub.

In Galena, the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel includes Frank O'Dowd's Irish Pub & Grill, which celebrates St. Pat's Day with Irish dancers and music.

In Finn country, two saints

The northern Minnesota town of Menahga, home of a fiberglass St. Urho, celebrates St. Urho Days March 15-16 with a Saturday parade at 12:20 p.m.

A pitchfork-wielding St. Urho is said to have banished the grasshoppers from Finland, thereby saving the grape harvest in the vineyards.

Just off Minnesota's North Shore, the village of Finland celebrates St. Urho's Day March 16 with a craft fair, tug of war across the Baptism River and parade.

Last updated on February 4, 2022

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