New Year in Chicago - 15 Ways to Celebrate the New Year

Are you planning a trip to Chicago in the winter? Make sure to visit in December and stay till after New Year’s day since the Windy City is no less than a wonderland during this time. Spending the New Year in Chicago means that you get to attend parties, watch fireworks shows, enjoy meals at restaurants, visit various locations adorned in bright lights, attend concerts and shows, and much more. 

Keep reading if you want to know of 15 fun ways in which you can ring in the New Year in Chicago:

1. Board a Fireworks Cruise on the Boston Harbor

New Year's Fireworks over the Boston Harbor

Get aboard a fireworks cruise on the Boston Harbor for a unique New Year’s celebration. You get to look at a gorgeous view of the lit-up Chicago skyline from a distance, and as the fireworks go off around midnight, you get to not only see the sky light up but also see the waters reflect the many colors of the fireworks. Moreover, there is dinner and drinks, a toast to the new year, a room to dance and live music. Depending upon the cruise service you choose, it may cost between USD 50 and USD 200.
Duration: 2 hours and above

2. Attend the Popular New Year’s Eve bash at the Hilton

The Hilton in Chicago

Every year, the Hilton in Chicago hosts a New Year’s Eve bash, which offers its visitors a luxurious experience between 9:00 pm and 1:00 am. You can either choose between General (USD 125) or VIP (USD 165) Admission, and depending on that, you get access to the open bar, live music, the ballroom or the silent disco, gambling tables, private buffets, and much more. What’s more, there is a champagne toast at midnight.
Address: 720 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60605, United States

3. Spend New Year’s Eve at 360 Chicago

A view of the fireworks from 360 Chicago

Fancy celebrating the New Year from on top of the 360 Chicago? On 31 December, starting at 9:00 pm, you have the option of going up to the 94th floor of the building for a New Year’s Eve in the Sky; you need to book a ticket (USD 105) in advance. It is open to people above the age of 21, and besides offering you a beautiful view of the city skyline and the fireworks, it offers some wine, beer, or mixed drinks, along with some light snacks.
Address: 875 N Michigan Ave 94th floor, Chicago, IL 60611, United States

4. Eat all you can on New Year’s Eve at Eataly

The outside of Eataly in Chicago

Don’t forget to head on over to Eataly on New Year’s Eve since they reserve their entire second floor to offer you an all-you-can-eat Italian feast! You have access to an unlimited amount of pizza, pasta, charcuterie, mozzarella, as well as wine, beer, and cocktail, the price of which is included in the ticket, which costs USD 150. At Mezzanotte or midnight, you get to ring in the new year with a prosecco toast.
Address: 43 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611, United States

5. Get a taste of Chicago’s Craft Beer at Architectural Artefacts

The inside of Architectural Artefacts

If you are like most people and want to celebrate the upcoming year with a drink in your hand, pay a visit to Architectural Artefacts on 31 December, between 8:00 pm and 1:00 am. It is a beautiful antique shop, often considered to be haunted, which serves craft beer from about 25 breweries in Chicago, alongside other drinks and hors d’oeuvres, at what is called the Brew Year’s Eve. To add to the experience, there is live music, including piano performance, and fun games, all for USD 149.
Address: 4325 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60613, United States

6. Celebrate the New Year with the Blue Man Group

A performance of the Blue Man Group

The Blue Man Group celebrates the New Year differently, with their own quirky version of the classic song Auld Lang Syne. As you get closer to midnight, you will most likely be asked to participate in the countdown as well as the toast, and if you have a seat in the first couple of rows, don’t forget to have on a poncho. The shows are on 31 December, with the timings being 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and 10:00 pm and cost between USD 49 and USD 79.
Address: Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657, United States

7. Head over to Lincoln Park Zoo for some New Year’s fun

An ice sculpture at the Lincoln Park Zoo during NYE

Lincoln Park Zoo is open to those above the age of 21 years on 31 December between 9:00 pm, and 1:00 am for some New Year’s Eve festivities. Get yourself a ticket and countdown to the New Year by enjoying the dazzling ZooLights, cash bars serving different drinks, live DJ, games, and giveaways. Furthermore, some of the animal exhibits are open during the nighttime, so if you want to get away from the festivities for a while, you know where to go!
Address: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614, United States

8. Partake in the festivities at Noon Year’s Eve

Meant for families with children between the ages of 0 and 12, Noon Year’s Eve is held annually at the Chicago Children’s Museum. It is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the next year's arrival without having the kids stay up late. The countdown to 12 noon begins at 11:00 am and includes fun activities such as a dance party, making crowns, face painting, and ultimately a colorful confetti finish! 
Address: 700 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, United States

9. Make your way to a spy-themed bash at Bond Ball

The Bond Ball at Safehouse Chicago

A completely different kind of New Year celebration, the Bond Ball at Safehouse Chicago is essentially a secret agent-themed event between 10:00 pm and 1:30 am. Make sure to dress well for the event since there are cash prizes for the best-dressed, and of course, there are drinks, a late-night buffet, live music, a magician, and a dance floor so you can go into the next year shaking a leg. Admission is based on a ticket which costs about USD 75.
Address: 60 E Ontario St, Chicago, IL 60611, United States

10. Experience one of the biggest New Year’s Eve party at Offshore

NYE fun at Offshore

It would be a wonderful idea to spend New Year’s Eve at the world’s rooftop bar, and in case you wish to do so, make your way to the New Year’s Eve party at Offshore between 9:00 pm and 2:00 am. You need to get a ticket (USD 125) to be a part of this party and will also need to dress up in cocktail attire, but the drinks, hors d’oeuvres, live music, food stations, and of course, the view of the midnight fireworks are sure worth it.
Address: 1000 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, United State

11. Ring in the New Year at the Drive-in

The popular Drive-in in Chicago

No New Year celebrations are complete without getting to witness the grand fireworks, and a unique way of doing so is by going to the Drive-thru. Join Julian’s NYE Party (USD 55 - USD 225) between 7:00 pm and 1:00 am, which is held outside SeatGeek Stadium, and watch performances by Stevie B, Lamar “Hula” Mahone, and Angel Civilleé, amongst others. There are concession stands on site which sells delicious food and drink. Around midnight, keep your eyes open for the fireworks!
Address: 7000 S Harlem Ave, Bridgeview, IL 60455, United States

12. Catch the New Year Zeve

The famous Zanies Comedy Club

Another fun virtual event to be a part of is the New Year Zeve. If you don’t feel like stepping out to celebrate the New Year but want to do something interesting, hop online and join the live stream by Zanies for a comedy show. The tickets cost between USD 10 and USD 25. It shall be broadcast twice in the evening and feature comedian Calvin Evans hosting many “funny people” from the city itself.
Timings: 8:00 pm and 10:30 pm

13. Join the Drake Hotel’s Live Stream on New Year’s Eve

The exterior of the Drake Hotel

If you want to do something different for New Year’s this year, consider donating. Dress up in some festive clothes and join the Drake Hotel’s virtual New Year’s Eve party and be a part of an initiative that seeks to raise money for charities dealing with homelessness, cancer, and suicide prevention. Moreover, you get to see DJ Jem and DJ Sye Young while taking advantage of dinner packages from restaurants in Downtown Chicago like Tavern on Rush and Gibson’s, all for no admission fee.
Timings: 9:30 pm onwards

14. Witness the fireworks from the Navy Pier

Fireworks from the Navy Pier

One of the most common ways to celebrate the New Year while in Chicago is to go over to the Navy Pier and watch the midnight fireworks over Lake Michigan. It is a free 15-minute event which starts at 12:00 am sharp. The location is a top-rated tourist destination. It is filled with thousands of people on 31 December, so ensure reaching early since the gates close once it reaches maximum capacity.  
Address: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, United States

15. Take part in the virtual New Year’s Eve 5K run

With the way things are this year, the annual New Year’s Eve 5K run is being held online, which means you get to be part of a noble cause, helping Direct Relief procure more protective gear for health workers. It will be held between December and January, and you can do it on your own time, share your results and then dive into a goody bag, which comprises a performance full-sleeve pullover, a medal, a personalized bib, and more, for USD 40.
Dates: 26 December to 3 January
These are just 15 of the numerous ways in which you can celebrate the New Year in Chicago; the city is home to a plethora of fun New Year’s events for both adults and children, which are sure to make for an unforgettable experience!

This post was published by Arushi Bhowmick

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