312 Day is right around the corner, and Chicagoans are already gearing up for the city’s biggest event. Since Goose Island Beer Company initiated the annual tradition on March 12, 2011, the people of Chicago have been proudly celebrating what their hometown has to offer.
Whether it’s your first time hearing about Chicago’s area code-inspired holiday or you’re a true-blue Chicagoan, there’s something you can enjoy on this special day. Here's everything you need to know about this year’s 312 Day festivities.
Back then, the Chicago metropolitan area used 312 as its area code. 312 is one of the original 86 area codes established by AT&T and the Bell System in 1947. However, in 1995, area code 773 was added. Because of this, the existing 312 area code was split into two distinct areas.
In 2009, another area code, 872, was added, and with it, 11-digit dialing was introduced to the Chicago region. Currently, the newest area code is an overlay to 312 and 773.
Overlay refers to multiple area codes serving the same geographic area. Unlike its predecessors, area code 872 was overlaid with the 312 and 773 area codes, which is why it serves every part of town.
One day, in 2011, while eagerly waiting for winter to be over, the folks at Goose Island Beer Company had the brilliant idea to make up a holiday event to enjoy Chicago’s almost-spring weather.
Call it destiny or pure coincidence, but the day they chose was March 12, which they immediately connected with Chicago’s original area code of 312. Thus, the legendary 312 Day was born.
Goose Island President Todd Ahsmann shared this remarkable story with Forbes:
“In the Midwest, we all understand how brutal the winter season can be,” he said. “A small group of us started a made-up holiday as an excuse to get out and enjoy Chicago. Flash forward to the present day; it’s bigger than ever, with a ton of celebrations happening all around Chicago.”
Due to the outpour of support from locals, in 2014, the mayor of Chicago declared March 12 an official city holiday. Today it’s one of the most well-loved and celebrated urban holidays. It encourages Chicagoans to show their love for their hometown by spotlighting everything and anything that makes it special—from culture to food, music, and homegrown talents.
This kind of celebration isn’t unique to Chicago, as other cities like Saint Louis and Milwaukee also have their area code day celebrations. However, Chicagoans’ enthusiastic commitment to 312 Day makes it the country's most extensive city area code-inspired holiday. Not to mention it carries an incredible backstory!
Even though the 312 festivities have spread throughout Chicago, Goose Island remains connected to the holiday. They even leveraged it by promoting their first canned beer product, the 312 Urban Wheat Ale.
As the yearly March 12 traditions draw nearer, Chicago natives and visitors alike are keen to know the events going down on this anticipated day.
From the brewery that started it all, Goose Island has special activities lined up for March 12, 2023. In their Clybourn Brewhouse location, guests of legal drinking age can enjoy the annual discount on 312 variants, which you can get for only $3.12 each. The brewery also offers its smash burger, trivia night, and ticket giveaways for Wilco, Bulls, Blackhawks, and White Sox games.
Guests planning to head to their Fulton St. Brewery and Taproom location can also catch the 312 variants discount, ticket giveaways, and StopAlong pizza.
Eventbrite is another great resource for upcoming 312 events. You can visit the Rebuilding Exchange open shop, enjoy a drag brunch at The Grand Cabaret, dance and party with a fun crowd, or play a game of Dungeons & Dragons at the Replay Lincoln Park. If none suit your fancy, you can still choose from other exciting events this month!
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events hosts various monthly activities. They offer cultural events, art exhibitions, family activities, parades, outdoor art appreciation, performing arts shows, and walking tours.
You can also visit the Do312 website to learn about other events happening on March 12 and for the rest of the month. Public activities occur on 312 Day, such as art classes, entertainment performances, music events, and business affairs. Sign up early for the activities you are eager to join, and don’t miss the opportunity to dress up with your own Chicago 312 graphic tee from Allegiant Goods Co.!
Even beyond the 312 celebrations, Chicago has a lot to offer. The third-largest city in the country is known for its delicious food, vibrant art and music scene, incredible architecture, and famous landmarks.
Never miss the chance to try their famous deep-dish pizza with layers of cheese, meat, and various toppings, garnished with tomato sauce. It comes in a deep pan lined with a thick crust, producing a delicious fragrant pizza you won’t forget.
Locals also highly recommend the Chicago-style smokey barbecue made from mouth-watering ribs and their homegrown hot dog sandwiches with all-beef franks and loaded toppings.
There’s also an abundance of art installations around town, like Millennium Park’s digital fountain. You can expect to see abstract art, murals, and statues anywhere you turn in a public place.
On the other hand, there’s Chicago’s vibrant music scene, which attracts diverse crowds. Watch a jazz performance or a poetry reading at the famous Green Mill Cocktail Lounge in the Uptown neighborhood, or enjoy live jazz music in the historical Jazz Showcase.
Architectural admirers will find the city’s buildings and design a huge treat. From the Gothic-revival design of the Tribune Tower to the historical Rookery Building and the stunning Chicago Cultural Center, you won’t find anything quite like it. Also, see if you can spot the 37 movable bridges spread across the Chicago River around town!
Don’t forget to watch a ball game at Wrigley Field, the home of the Cubs. You’ll enjoy strolling along the Riverwalk if you love the skyline view. And before you leave, visit the Navy Pier, a historical landmark along Lake Michigan with loads of attractions.