Whether you're looking for a fireworks cruise, New Year's Eve parties in Chicago or just New Year's Eve dinner ideas, our list of fun things to do for New Year's Eve is sure to give you a great place to start.
NAVY PIER FIREWORKS & PARTIES, PLUS CHI-TOWN RISING
When it comes to New Year's celebrations, Navy Pier
is the epicenter of all things spectacular. Enjoy all the entertainment, rides and attractions at this family friendly destination, and at midnight, watch a kaleidoscope of colorful fireworks
, perfectly synchronized to inspiring music over Lake Michigan.
Also at Navy Pier is the annual Chicago Resolution Gala, the ultimate destination for kicking off 2016. With more than 30 bars, delectable buffet stations and access to the Grand Ballroom and the Lakeview Terrace, there are plenty of places to mingle and dance the night away. To see and be seen, hit up Crystal Gardens New Years Eve, celebrating its 10th aniversary celebration with special guest DJs like Dante and more than 20 premium liquor bars. Nosh on hors d'oeuvres and signature dishes at the food stations, and step out on the private terrace to watch the fireworks.
Or if you'd rather kick off 2016 with a completely new tradition, make sure to attend Chi-Town Rising, where musical headliners Chicago and American Authors will rock the crowd, while a stunning countdown will culminate with a grand fireworks display over the Chicago River.
CHICAGO'S TOP HOTEL PARTIES
Go big or go home! For the flashiest, most extravagent New Year's Eve parties in Chicago, head to the hotels.
Voted "Best Chicago New Year's Eve Party" by a number of media outlets, the annual Chicago Scene New Year's Eve Party at The Drake Hotel is over-the-top. With more than 2,500 guests dancing to Chicago's hottest DJs, four ballrooms, premium top-shelf liquor served at more than 40 fully staffed bars, a breathtaking balloon drop and a champagne toast at midnight, it is sure to please party goers.
For the bespoke crowd, the hotel's New Year's Eve Black-Tie Affair at Palm Court will have you indulging in Chef's small plates, food station delicacies and drinks.
At Big Night Chicago: NYE Gala at Palmer House Hilton, dance the night away with over 3,000 fellow partiers with celebrity DJ ArkiTek and live bands such as Iron Dragon, Four Star Brass Band and more providing the soundtrack for the evening throughout multiple ballrooms.While you're here, try your luck at the mock casino.
For an elegant affair beneath twinkling chandeliers, head to the luxurious NYE Soiree at Hilton Chicago, where well-heeled partiers will be enjoying hors d'oeuvres, specialty martinis, live casino gaming, celebrity DJs and swirls of confetti at the midnight hour.
The NYE Soiree at JW Marriott Chicago rings in the new year in the landmark luxury hotel designed by Daniel Burnham, where partiers will be dancing to live DJs and cover bands and toasting champagne to welcome 2016.
Wish you could party like a rock star? NYE at Hard Rock Hotel has just the thing. Enjoy everything from crowd pleasing DJs to top shelf amenities to a sultry Playboy playmate masquerade lounge and costume photo shoot at this all-night party.
Escape to Paris — or something like it — with the Midnight in Paris event at Sofitel Hotel, benefitting those afflicted with misericordia. In addition to the charity celebration, you can say bonjour to 2015 at the hotel's Le Bar party (TIP: score complimentary entry with dinner at Café des Architectes).
MUSIC & PERFORMANCE VENUES
Live music lovers will find plenty of places to catch entertaining concerts throughout Chicago.
Listen to some blues with Grammy-nominated Billy Branch & the Sons at Kingston Mines or Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings at House of Blues Chicago. Feel the beat with some heartfelt soul when you watch Windy City Soul Club at Logan Square Auditorium.
If pop-rock and folksy Americana is more your style, don't miss the live performance by Brandi Carlile at Thalia Hall.
Or head to Howl at the Moon for a gourmet buffet dinner, champagne toast, party favors and exciting dueling piano music. Andy's Jazz Club is also offering dinner and a show with A Lowdown Brass New Year's Bash, featuring lively brass music.
Travel to an otherworldy planet on a space probe mission for Voyager 2016: A Journey to the New Year. Details to be announced soon.
Looking for festive dinner ideas? Chicago's award-winning restaurant scene is pulling out all the stops.
At Riva Crab House
, enjoy spectacular views of the Navy Pier fireworks from the upstairs dining room (combined with chef specials and a champagne toast at midnight), or the downstairs dance floor. Or grab a bite along the pier at Harry Caray's Tavern
before catching the sky show just outside.
Frontier hosts a special New Year's Eve event with a whole animal (pig, goat, lamb and boar) meal package and a champagne toast at midnight. Indulge in a full dinner buffet at Bar Louie.
BARS, LOUNGES & NIGHTCLUBS
For a party with spectacular views, make a reservation at New Year's Eve at ROOF on theWit, where guests can enjoy a special party with extravagant food, dessert displays, a premium open bar and a midnight toast — 27 stories above it all. For New Year's Eve 2016 at I|O Urban Roofscape in The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, guests can enjoy bottle service, a late night snack, live music and more.
Or consider reserving a table AND a bowling lane at Lucky Strike, where the New Year's Eve Soiree includes a buffet, desserts, premium drink package and more.
DINNER CRUISES: FULL FIREWORKS VIEWS
Get the best view of the fireworks over Lake Michigan with an unparalleled vantage point on the water. Book a dinner and fireworks cruise, which includes delicious dining, music, a champagne toast and, of course, unbeatable views of the midnight fireworks. These special cruises are offered through Entertainment Cruises on their Odyssey, Mystic Blue and Spirit of Chicago vessels.
Why should adults have all the fun? Join Chicago Children's Museum for its annual Noon Year's Eve! The festivities start at 11:15 a.m. to make personalized crowns and celebrate with noise makers, confetti and a special countdown. If the Navy Pier fireworks extravaganza didn't catch your attention, try Zoo Year's Eve at Brookfield Zoo. The kid-friendly countdown occurs at 8 p.m., and the event features a DJ, fun games and party favors.