A parade in Chicago is always a big deal, and the ones that take place in the city's downtown are well attended. Here's a handy list to help you find detailed information about a particular parade in Chicago.
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, Chance the Rapper and others.
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 Chinese businesses. There's easy public transportation access from downtown hotels via the CTA Red Line which stops steps away from the parade route.
Columbus Day Parade
It's fitting that a city with a major street named Columbus Drive would have a parade honoring Christopher Columbus and his journey to the Americas. The parade appropriately also takes place on the same street on Columbus Day each year. This parade is a rich and celebrated tradition in Chicago's Italian-American community.
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.
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, although a $10 donation is suggested.
Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and their friends 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 are lit during the event that also includes live performances. As part of Lights Festival Lane on the Plaza (401 N. Michigan Ave.), there are 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.
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. A wreath laying ceremony begins at 11:00 a.m., followed by the parade at noon, on Saturday, May 25, 2019.
Mexican Independence Parade in Chicago
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—as well as independence from Spain in 1810—in September with the Mexican Independence Day Parade along Columbus Drive. Members of the community, schools, businesses and corporate friends have lively floats and you can hear Mexican music during this festive celebration.
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 and open to the public.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
Lots of Chicago residents have deep Irish roots, but everyone is Irish come St. Patrick's Day. 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. You'll want to show up early to get a great spot along the river for the dyeing as well as for the parade. This event draws loads of party-goers.
New York isn't the only city with a big Thanksgiving Day parade, Chicago has one as well along iconic State Street featuring large inflatable character balloons, marching bands, horses, dance acts, floats and more. Grab a spot on November 28 and watch the festivities from 8:00 to 11:00 a.m.