It is time to ring in another year! Chicago is a very memorable spot to celebrate the year that has passed, and look forward to the year to come! Whether it is fireworks, galas, a cozy bar, music venues, or dinner at an award winning restaurant, there is something for everyone to toast in the new year.
Below we have listed some of the most popular New Year’s Eve traditions in the Windy City, including some that are perfect for the whole family!
Do not forget that the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) offers free rides from 10:00pm on the 31st- 4:00am on the 1st to make your ride home a little safer and more affordable.
Navy Pier puts on a good show for the New Year. Come enjoy the family friendly activities, rides, and shows during the day, then stick around for the real performance at midnight for the lakefront fireworks. This beautiful show is synchronized to inspiring music and will set the mood for the New Year.
December 31st, 2017: 8:15pm- 2:00am
The 6th annual Resolution Gala is hosted in the Grand Ballroom at the end of Navy Pier. It is one of the top parties in the city at New Year’s, and hosts 3,000 guests! Ring in the new year with food, drinks, top DJ’s, party favors, and a perfect view for the fireworks.
Crystal Gardens New Year's Eve 2018:
December 31st, 2017: 9:00pm- 2:00am
The Crystal Gardens is another beautiful venue to ring in 2018 at Navy Pier. NBC’s BIG Live NYE Show will be filmed at this party, so it is one you won’t want to miss! This promises to be a good party with premium bars, hors d’oeuvres, special guest DJs, and a private terrace to admire the fireworks.
Board: December 31st, 2017: 8:30pm, Cruise: 9:30pm-12:30 am
Why stick to land when you can celebrate the new year at sea sea? Join the New Year’s Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise aboard the Odyssey. Enjoy a plated dinner, open bar, champaign toast, dancing, and the sweeping views of the city with the fireworks lighting up the skyline.
A lot of the more famous and popular hotels will also put on a show for the New Year!
The Drake Hotel: Chicago Scene New Year's Eve Party
December 31st, 2017: 9:00pm- 2:00am
This historic and beautiful hotel has been throwing a great New Years Eve party for the past 17 years. With 3,000 guests, there are 5 ballrooms to explore where you will discover premium bars, hors d’oeuvres, DJs, and top off the night with a beautiful balloon drop accompanied by a champagne toast at midnight.
Congress Plaza Hotel: Big Night Chicago New Year's Eve Gala
December 31st, 2017: 9:00pm- 1:30am
The Congress Plaza Hotel is another historic spot to celebrate a new year with 3,000 guests spread throughout 8 different party areas. Dance the night away with live bands and some of the city’s best DJs as you enjoy the stocked bars, food buffets, and party favors.
Like many historic hotels, this one has sordid past. Find out more on our Chicago Ghost tour.
December 31st, 2017: 9:00pm- 2:00am
This iconic Chicago hotel offers another elegant option to ring in the new year. With celebrity DJs, hors d’oeuvres, live casino gambling, and lots of confetti to add to the festive party.
Chicago is a great city to catch some live music. Famous for its rich musical scene with Chicago Blues and Jazz music, this could be a perfect, and more affordable, way to celebrate a new year.
The Green Mill Lounge: Battle of the Saxes:
December 31st, 2017: 8:00pm- 12:30am
This historic bar is known for being one of Al Capone’s favorites, and maintains its original charm. Throughout the year this is a favorite spot to catch some jazz music, but on New Year’s Eve they will be hosting a “Battle of the Saxes” with headliners such as Ed Petersen, Eric Schneider, and Willie Pickens. Your $30 ticket also includes a champagne toast at midnight!
Learn more about the best historic bars in Chicago on our blog post.
Kingston Mines: New Year’s Eve Celebration
December 31st, 2017: Doors open at 5:30, last show starts at 2:30am
This is another famous music venue, and is the longest continually run blues club in the city. Open 365 days out of the year, this spot makes it extra special for the new year, with performers such as the Joanna Connor Blues Band, accompanied with party hats and favors. Our Lincoln Park Blues tour includes this historic spot (from the outside) so join the learn more before you party here!
Chicago is a rich culinary city. Perhaps your perfect New Year’s Eve is a nice dinner out. There are many restaurants that can provide a beautiful and festive meal, and include a special NYE multi-course meal.
For a more original food menu at New Years, head to Frontier in Chicago's vibrant West Town neighborhood. Expect a feast this New Year’s Eve, as your $85 ticket will get you a smoked whole animal feast (such as a boar, pig, lamb, goat), accompanied by salads, sides, dessert, an open bar, and champagne toast at midnight.
Dusek’s is found in the heart of Pilsen, a colorful and artistic neighborhood with strong Hispanic roots. For New Year’s Eve, Dusek’s has prepared a special New Years Eve menu by Michelin-starred Chef Henry Hill . Dishes such as Chestnut gnocchi with porcini ragu, black truffle and Parmigiano Reggiano will have you ready to make your reservation. 5-course menus start at 6:00 for $65, and 7-course tasting menus are at 9:30 for $95, and includes a champagne toast.
GreenRiver also hosts a special NYE meal, offering multiple courses at different times throughout the night. Tucked away in Streeterville is this elegant, Michelin star rated restaurant that offers delicious menu items such as dry-aged rohan duck breast and trout tartar parfait. The first seating is at 5:30, offering a 5-course meal plus dessert for $125, and second seating is at 8:30 with a 6-course meal plus dessert for $155.
While you may not be spending a lot of time outdoors, GreenRiver has one of the best rooftop bars in Chicago
For the Kids:
Kids love a good party too, so be sure to look into some of the great New Year’s Eve traditions that are perfect for the whole family! Find out all the great family-friendly activities in Chicago on our post.
December 31st, 2017: 4:30pm- 9:00pm
ZooLights is a favorite holiday tradition in Chicago, and they make it extra special for New Year’s Eve. This beautiful light display makes for a festive atmosphere as you stroll through the zoo with the complimentary party hats, horns, and party favors.
Children's Museum Noon Year's Eve:
December 31st, 2017: 10:30am- 12:15pm
Start the party early this year at the Children’s Museum Noon Year’s Eve. Housed at Navy Pier, the Children’s Museum hosts this annual event which includes crafts, activities, and a special countdown accompanied by confetti.
December 31st, 2017: 1:00pm + 4:00pm
The Blue Man Group is a Chicago tradition, and they make the New Year extra special for families. They host kid-friendly performances at 1:00pm and 4:00pm. Children can get decked out to look like a Blue Man with face painting before the show. The party keeps going during the show with party hats and a fake countdown to midnight.
A lot of bars will also offer tickets to their events that include drink packages, hors d’oeuvres, and entertainment of their own. Check here for a list of some great bar options for New Year’s Eve.
Also, check out our post on Bars in Chicago - historic bars, game bars and the best happy hours.