Parades in Chicago

Parades in Chicago

Two of the city's longest running parades, The Bud Billiken Day Parade and the Thanksgiving Day Parade, began when organizers wanted to do something special for Chicagoans. The Billiken parade was created to celebrate the kids who sold the Chicago Defender newspaper, and the Thanksgiving parade emerged as a way to cheer up the city during the Great Depression.

To this day, all of Chicago's parades are free to attend. Find some of Chicago's most popular parades here and information about their dates, times, starting and ending points, and other essential information.

Bud Billiken Parade

Since 1929, the Bud Billiken Day Parade and Picnic has been a central part of the Chicago African-American community's summer. Held every year on the second Saturday in August, the parade emerged as part of the Chicago Defender newspaper's desire to do something nice for the kids who helped sell the paper. It is believed the be the nation's oldest and largest African American parade. This year, the event turns 84 years of age and the parade date falls on August 10, 2013.

Chicago's Memorial Day Parade

Location: State Street from Lake to Van Buren
Date: May 25th
Start Time: 12:00 Noon
The Chicago parade is considered one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation. Since 1870, Memorial Day parades have graced the streets of Chicago.

Columbus Day Parade

Location: Columbus from Balbo to Monroe
Date: October 14th
Start Time: 12:30 pm
The Columbus Day Parade celebrates Christopher Columbus historic voyage to America and Italian-American culture.


Disability Pride Parade

Location: Clark from Van Buren to Washington
Date: July 20th
Start Time: 11:00 am
The City of Chicago celebrates the American's with Disability Act (ADA) with the 10th annual Disability Pride Parade.


Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

Location: Michigan Ave. from Oak St. to the Chicago River
Date: November 23rd
Start Time: 6:00 pm
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival officially kicks off the Christmas season in Chicago, with numerous fun family activities and the highlight, the Mickey Mouse parade illuminating over one million lights along Michigan Avenue.


McDonald's Thanksgiving Parade

Location: State Street from Congress to Randolph
Date: November 28th
Start Time: 8:00 am
Fun is to be had by all at the the biggest holiday parade in Chicago.

Mexican Independence Parade

Location: Columbus from Balbo to Monroe
Date: September 14, 2013
Start Time: 12:00 pm (Noon)
Celebrate Mexican culture at the annual Mexican Independence Parade in downtown Chicago.

Polish Constitution Day Parade

Location: Columbus from Balbo to Monroe
Date: May 4th
Start Time: 11:30 am
The Polish Constitution Day Parade is the largest Polish parade outside of Poland, and celebrates the anniversary of the ratification of the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791.

Puerto Rican Parade

Location:Columbus from Balbo to Monroe
June 15th
Start Time:
12:00 pm (Noon)
The annual downtown Puerto Rican Parade brings families together to celebrate Puerto Rican culture. The parade includes a procession of floats, folk dancers, reggaetón music groups and salsa dancers.

St. Jude Police Memorial March

Location: Museum Campus Dr./Solidarity to Waldron
Date: May 5th
Start Time: 8:00 am
Thousands of uniformed Chicago Police officers will honor their fellow officers who were killed in the line of duty through the years.

St. Patrick's Day Parade

Location: Columbus from Balbo to Monroe
Date: March 16th
Start Time: 12:00 pm Noon
One of the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the country, the annual downtown St. Patrick's Day Parade celebrates the patron saint of Ireland Irish heritage.