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Chicago March 10–16: St. Patrick's Day Starts Early & Spring Flowers Bloom

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The Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day
Photo by Scott L/Flickr

The Chicago River dyed green for St. Patrick's Day

The best of what to do in and around Chicago this week

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No, it’s not St. Patrick’s Day yet, but it might as well be in Chicago. The city is hopping on that bandwagon early by dyeing its river green, bringing out the Irish dancers, and pulling out floats to celebrate. Between green pints and Irish songs, you can celebrate spring at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show.

AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what's happening in cities around the U.S.

March 10 | Film
70mm Film Festival: Ultimate Edition
The Music Box Theatre installed a 41-foot screen and a 7.1 channel sound system to present nearly three weeks of classic films for their ultimate film fest, which ends on Thursday. A 70mm film has four times the resolution of 35mm film or digital projection, so the viewing experience is unparalleled. Music Box saved the best films for last, with Lawrence of Arabia and Interstellar playing on the big screen on the fest’s final day.
Times vary | 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago | $13 | website

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March 12–13 | Escape the city
It’s less than an hour outside Chicago, but this time of year, Naperville feels like it could be Ireland. On March 12, the city hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade—and if you get up early enough, you could do the St. Paddy’s Day 5K just before the parade. Top off your day with a few drinks and some classic Irish fare at Quigley’s Irish Pub, and be sure to make time to stroll down the Riverwalk, which is beautiful any time of year.
8 a.m. | Jackson and West St., Naperville | From $35 | website

March 12 | Parade
St. Patrick’s Day Parade and River Dyeing 
This is a big one. Chicago is home to many Irish folks, and many more who want to be (especially around this time of year), and so the city's traditions are strong. At 9 a.m., be part of the 400,000-person crowd cheering on as 45 pounds of green food coloring is dumped into the Chicago River. The transformation takes about 45 minutes, so don't sleep in (though the color lasts for five hours). Grab breakfast and hang out till noon, when the annual St. Paddy's Day parade—including like floats, Irish step dancers, marching bands, and bagpipes—gets underway from its starting point of Columbus Drive and Balbo Avenue.
9 a.m. | William P. Fahey Bridge, Chicago | Free | website

Chicago Flower and Garden Show

March 12–20 | Flower show
Chicago Flower and Garden Show
This isn’t your typical garden show. In addition to featuring more than 20 life-sized gardens, the event will have a cake-decorating contest, potting classes, and chef demos so you can learn how to cook from edible gardens you can recreate in your own backyard (or patio or kitchen shelf). There’s also plenty for the kids to do, including kiddie potting parties and crafts, so don’t leave them at home.
From $15 | Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago | (312) 241-1250 | website

Now open | Restaurant
Take a break from all the Irish fare to check out this new restaurant, which is quickly gaining fame for its Sunday brunch ($25 gets you two cocktails and as much Latin food as you can consume) and for its dinners, which offer an innovate twist on Latin American street food. The experience leans more toward cafeteria meals than fine dining, with stations set up for tacos, tortas, and guacamole. The crowds here are no joke though, and neither is the food. Pro-tip: Avoid the lines by stopping in during happy hour, when you can get at all that delicious food minus the lunchtime rush.
108 N State St., Chicago | (312) 795-4444 | website

Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.

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