Top 10 Parades in Chicago

A parade in Chicago is always a big deal, and the ones that take place in the city's downtown are always well attended. Here's a handy list to help you find detailed information about a particular parade in Chicago.

--edited by Audarshia Townsend

  • 01 of 10
    Bud-Billiken-Parade-SPOTLIGHT.jpg
    ••• The Bud Billiken Parade takes place in August. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Defender Charities

    Every second Saturday in August is the country's largest African-American parade, which launched in 1929. Catering to families, the parade travels on the South Side, beginning at 39th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and ending at 55th Street in Washington Park (home to DuSable Museum of African American History). Marching bands, professional athletes, actors, radio personalities, politicians and more march in the parade.

    Throughout the years, a host of A-List stars and top dignitaries have participated, including the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Paul Robeson, President Barack Obama (as a U.S. senator), Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey, Billie Holiday, Diana Ross, R. Kelly and others.

  • 02 of 10

    Chinese Lunar New Year Parade

    ••• Photo courtesy of Chicago Chinatown

    The New Year Parade celebrates the Lunar New Year and marches right through the middle of Chinatown on the near South Side. It's also an opportunity to dine and shop in authentic Chinse businesses. There's easy public transportation access from downtown hotels via the CTA Red Line which stops steps away from the parade route.

  • 03 of 10

    Columbus Day Parade

    It's fitting that a city with a major street named Columbus Drive would have parade honoring Christopher Columbus and his journey to the Americas. The parade appropriate also takes place on the same street on Columbus Day each year.

  • 04 of 10
    ••• Photo: Steve Stearns

    While gay pride is celebrated throughout the month of June, the last two weekends are the most significant. Chicago Pride Festival happens in Lakeview (a.k.a. Boystown) on Halsted Street between Addison and Grace streets. It's a $10 suggested donation. The Gay Pride Parade culminates the month and kicks off at noon on the last Sunday. It begins at the corner of Broadway and Montrose avenues, and continues south on Broadway, then south on Halsted, east on Belmont, south again on Broadway, and east on Diversey to Cannon Drive. It's free to the public. 

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  • 05 of 10

    Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

    ••• Photo: GNMAA

    Mickey and Minnie Mouse, plus others kick off the holiday season during the annual parade and festival on the famed Magnificent Mile shopping district. More than one million lights on 200 trees will be lit during the event that will also include live performances. As part of Lights Festival Lane on the Plaza (401 N. Michigan Ave.), there will be a number of additional performances that are family friendly. Look also for special deals on hotel rates, shopping, and food and drink. The festival, which happens in mid-November, culminates in a fireworks show over the Chicago River at 6:55 p.m.

  • 06 of 10

    Memorial Day Parade

    One of the largest Memorial Day parades in the country, Chicago has honored U.S. fallen soldiers with a parade along the streets of the city since 1870. The parade is currently held along State Street downtown the Saturday before Memorial Day.

  • 07 of 10
    ••• Photo: Julieta Alvarez

    Chicago has a large and growing Mexican population (currently only Los Angeles has a larger Mexican-American population in the U.S.), and it celebrates that culture each year in September with the Mexican Independence Day Parade along Columbus Drive.

  • 08 of 10
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    ••• The Puerto Rican Parade takes place in Humboldt Park. Photo courtesy of TheeErin

    The Puerto Rican parade combines two major happenings: the Humboldt Park community parade as well as the one occurring downtown. The parade occurs in late June at Division and Maple streets in Humboldt Park near the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture. It pays homage to the country's largest Puerto Rican population, with the festival taking place all day at Division Street and California Avenue. All activities are free.

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  • 09 of 10

    St. Patrick's Day Parade

    ••• Green Chicago River. Photo: Richard Yuan

    Lots of Chicago residents have deep Irish roots, but we're all Irish come St. Patrick's Day, and the city gets into the spirit with its St. Patrick's Day Parade, as well as the annual green dyeing of the Chicago River. The parade is currently held the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day. It's also the most popular time of the year to check out Chicago's top Irish bars

  • 10 of 10

    New York isn't the only city with a big Thanksgiving Day parade, Chicago has one as well along the iconic State Street featuring large inflatable character balloons, marching bands, floats and more.