From masquerade balls at swanky hotels to live DJs at underground clubs to multi-course meals at award-winning restaurants — there are tons of memorable ways to ring in the New Year in Chicago.
1. New Year’s at Navy Pier
No New Year’s celebration in Chicago would be complete without a trip to Navy Pier. Enjoy all the entertainment, rides and attractions at this family-friendly destination, and at midnight, watch a kaleidoscope of fireworks perfectly synchronized to inspiring music over Lake Michigan.
The annual Chicago Resolution Gala is the “it” New Year’s Eve event at Navy Pier. With more than 30 bars offering unlimited drinks, tasty buffet stations and access to the Grand Ballroom and the Lakeview Terrace, there are plenty of places to mingle and dance the night away—and to take in unrivaled views of those fireworks we mentioned.
Crystal Gardens New Years Eve
To see and be seen, hit up Crystal Gardens New Years Eve, where you’ll find special guest DJs and more than 20 premium liquor bars. Nosh on hors-d’oeuvres and signature dishes at various food stations, and step out on the private terrace to watch those fabulous fireworks.
Lakefront dinner cruise
The best view of the fireworks display over Lake Michigan is from the water. Book a dinner and fireworks cruise, which includes dining, music, a champagne toast, and unbeatable views. These special cruises are offered through Entertainment Cruises on their Odyssey, Mystic Blue, and Spirit of Chicago vessels. Entertainment Cruises, NBC Tower, 455 N. Cityfront Plaza Dr., (866) 391-8439. Navy Pier: 600 E. Grand Ave., (312) 595-5300.
2. New Year’s fireworks on the water
Chicago will ring in the New Year with a bang this year. A midnight fireworks display will dazzle spectators along the Chicago river and lakefront for the first time this New Year’s Eve.
The free show will kick off at the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31. The river and lakefront fireworks will be choreographed to music to create one stunning, synchronized show. Learn more about viewing locations and partner events.
Chicago river fireworks cruise
Celebrate the New Year with a fireworks cruise on the Chicago River. Sip champagne and enjoy an up-close view of the stunning river fireworks display. All tickets to Odyssey Chicago River’s inaugural New Year’s Eve Fireworks Dinner Cruise include a plated multi-course dinner, platinum open bar, a midnight champagne toast, DJ entertainment, and a night of dancing. Odyssey River Cruise: River Esplanade, 455 Cityfront Plaza Drive, (866) 305-2469.
3. Top hotels parties
NYE Soiree at JW Marriott
This NYE Soiree rings in the New Year in the luxury hotel designed by legendary Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. Dance to live DJs and cover bands, while toasting the arrival of 2020 with champagne. JW Marriott: 151 W. Adams St., (312) 660-8200.
Chicago Scene New Year’s Eve Party at Drake Hotel
Voted “Best Chicago New Year’s Eve Party,” this event is the ultimate in extravagance. With more than 3,000 guests dancing to Chicago’s hottest DJs, five ballrooms, premium top-shelf liquor served at more than 40 fully staffed bars, a breathtaking balloon drop, and a champagne toast at midnight, this party will undoubtedly fill you with enough New Year’s spirit to last the entire year. Drake Hotel: 140 E. Walton Place, (312) 787-2200.
Chicago New Year’s Ball at Congress Plaza Hotel
At New Year’s Eve Ball, you’ll dance the night away with more than 3,000 fellow revelers under the musical stewardship of celebrity a DJs that play throughout the multiple Congress Plaza Hotel ballrooms. With multiple bars and buffets, you’ll spend less time waiting in line and more time on the dance floor. Congress Plaza Hotel: 520 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 427-3800.
New Year’s Eve Soiree at Hilton Chicago
For an elegant affair beneath glittering chandeliers, head to the luxurious New Year’s Eve Soiree at Hilton Chicago, where well-heeled partiers enjoy hors d’oeuvres, specialty martinis, live casino gaming, celebrity DJs and more, well past the stroke of midnight. Hilton Chicago: 720 S. Michigan Ave., (312) 933-4400.
Ring in 2020 at this riverfront hotspot. Get your ticket now because this will be the hottest ticket in town featuring multiple ballrooms of entertainment, top-shelf cocktails, a variety of hors d’oeuvres, pasta bar, custom martinis, premium champagne, online raffles benefiting a good cause, celebrity DJs, live cover band, live video mixing, midnight confetti storm, table service, + so much more. And to top it off they are including a complimentary pre-party and post party in the ticket price. Swissotel Chicago: 323 E Upper Wacker Drive, (312) 565-0565
New Year’s Eve Gala at W Chicago
Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Style at the ultra-trendy, W Chicago – City Center! This event will have you hopping from room to room with multiple party areas. Enjoy the evening with an all-inclusive package featuring top-shelf drinks, buffets, champagne, party favors, midnight celebrations, and more. W Chicago City Center: 172 W Adams St, (312) 332-1200
4. Special venues and unique events
Zoo Year’s Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo
Need a break from the typical bars? Grab your crew and head to the zoo. Spend an after-hours evening at the Lincoln Park Zoo, which will be decked out in millions of glittering lights. Plus, enjoy ice carving, cash bars serving beer, wine and champagne, a live DJ, giveaways, games, free carousel rides and more. Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N. Clark St., (312) 742-2000.
Brew Year’s Eve at Architectural Artifacts
Ditch the champagne and celebrate the new year with some local brews. This event features 10 Chicago breweries and 25 different craft beers, butler-passed hors-d’oeuvres, and a selection of craft cocktails and wine. Live music will be playing throughout the venue, the upscale architectural salvage emporium Architectural Artifacts. The artsy Ravenswood space offers plenty of unique photo opps, with your beer in hand, of course. Architectural Artifacts, 4325 N. Ravenswood Ave., (773) 348-0622.
Blue Man Group New Year’s Eve Celebration
Although known nationally, Blue Man Group are a Chicago tradition. This special New Year’s Eve performance at Lakeview’s Briar Street Theatre includes a post-show rendition of Auld Lang Syne, a countdown to midnight with complimentary party hats and noise-makers, and, naturally, a New Year’s toast. The first five rows of the theater are the “poncho section” so be ready to get a big messy. Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N. Halsted St., (773) 348-4000.
Safehouse’s Bond Ball
Celebrate the new year with a spy-themed bash. This James Bond-themed gala will include a champagne toast, cocktail specials, a live magician, and a costume contest for best dresses Bonds. SafeHouse: 60 E. Ontario St., Chicago, IL 60611.
5. Bars & lounges
New Year’s Eve Party at Barcocina
This hip spot is buzzing year round, and New Year’s Eve will be no different. Barcocina has a spectacular party in the works, featuring an open bar, complimentary hors-d’oeuvres, and live music from one of Chicago’s top DJs. Tickets start at $89 and VIP options are available. Barcocina: 2901 N Sheffield Ave., Chicago, IL 60657, (773) 687-9949
Rock Around the Clock at the Hard Rock Cafe
You’re basically guaranteed to have a late night at this raucous, till-4-am bash. The celebration includes a 4.5-hour premium cocktail reception and appetizer buffet station with a soundtrack by the official Chicago Bulls DJ, DJ Metro, playing nothing but the best Top 40 and retro hits. Hard Rock Cafe: 63 W. Ontario St., (312) 943-2252.
New Year’s Eve at Rock Bottom
End the year right at this popular dance party. The River North spot will be going all out this year, offering revelers a premium liquor package, private bartenders and cocktail servers, appetizers, party favors, a champagne toast at midnight, and more. Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery: 1 W. Grand Ave., (312) 755-9339.
Midnight at the Oasis at Three Dots and a Dash
Warm up with the tropical vibes and tiki drinks at Three Dots and a Dash’s luau bash. The evening will feature the bar’s signature cocktails and a live DJ set. Three Dots and a Dash: 435 N. Clark St., (312) 610-4220
All that Glitters at Z Bar
The rooftop cocktail lounge at The Peninsula Chicago has planned a sparkling, golden-hued celebration filled with music and Champagne to ring in the new year. A ticket includes a complimentary Champagne pour upon arrival, one complimentary Gold Magic cocktail (or well highball of choice) and party favors. Z Bar: 108 E. Superior St., (312) 573-6888.
Enjoy an elevated nightclub experience at The Underground in River North. Ring in the new year by dancing into 2030 with a star DJ lineup and join in on a champagne toast at midnight. Doors open at 9 p.m. 56 W. Illinois, (312) 644-7600.
Monte Carlo New Year’s Eve at Roof on theWit
Roof on theWIT will be hosting its exclusive Monte Carlo-inspired New Year’s Eve Party. Guests to the sky-high event will have access to a platinum open bar, lavish food, four gaming tables with roulette, craps, and blackjack, a live DJ, dramatic dance performances, a photo booth and more. ROOF on theWit: 201 N. State St., (312) 239-9502.
6. Concerts & music venues
Battle of the Saxes at Green Mill
This grande dame of the Chicago Jazz scene will be hosting a “Battle of the Saxes” this New Year’s Eve, with the likes of Ed Petersen and Eric Schneider headlining. The price of admission includes a champagne toast at midnight. Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway St., (773) 878-5552.
Galantis at Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom
Galantis, the electronic dance duo from Sweden, will bring their signature sounds to the Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom this New Year’s Eve. The majestic theatre will be transformed into a massive dance party as party-goers dance the night away at this standing-room-only show. Byline Bank Aragon Ballroom, 1106 W Lawrence Ave.
Rod Tuffcurls and the Bench Press at the Vic
These high-energy rockers are sure to have the whole crowd on their feet. The mega-popular local cover band will be playing all your favorite hits, old and new, at this end-of-the-year bash at The Vic in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. The Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave., (773) 472-0449.
Champagne Supernova at Howl at the Moon
Howl at the Moon is a relaxed piano bar in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The first of your two celebration options is Champagne Supernova, which includes guaranteed reserved seating, tickets for six premium drinks, a two-hour dinner buffet, and a complimentary bottle of champagne per table for your midnight toast. Howl at the Moon, 26 W. Hubbard St., (312) 863-7427.
RJD2 at Sleeping Village
The beer-focused bar and music venue in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood will host RJD2 to wrap up the year. The hip-hop musician combines different elements to create a moody, soulful sound that’s all his own. Sleeping Village, 3734 W. Belmont Ave.
Guided by Voices at Bottom Lounge
Kick off the new year with indie rockers Guided by Voices. The subterranean venue in the West Loop neighborhood is the perfect complement to the group’s garage/punk-rock inspired sound. Tickets are $50, VIP tickets are $85 and include a signed, limited-edition poster. Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake St., (312) 666-6775.
Greensky Bluegrass at Riviera Theatre
End the year with a night of bluegrass at the Riviera Theatre. The show will be the grand finale of a four-night run and feature three full sets of Greensky Bluegrass. Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave.
Prime & Provisions Steakhouse
Celebrate in style at this sleek steakhouse. Starting at 5 p.m., Prime & Provisions will be offering an a la carte menu filled with favorites and a celebratory chef’s holiday menu. Reservations are now available for parties large and small. Prime & Provisions: 222 N. LaSalle St., (312) 726-7777.
Smith & Wollensky
Enjoy your last meal of 2018 with sweeping river views. This downtown steakhouse will be serving their winter dinner menu, along with specials and premium holiday wines by the bottle and glass. They’ll also have a wide selection of champagne and sparkling wines on hand for toasting. Smith & Wollensky: 318 N. State St., (312) 670-9900.
For something entirely out of the ordinary, head to West Town, one of Chicago’s most vibrant, artistic and hip neighborhoods. There you’ll find an unusual meat-eater’s nirvana. Frontier is famous for its selection of wild game and not-your-mother’s-Sunday-roast offerings. Think a whole roasted alligator, for example, or a crispy antelope leg. For Frontier’s annual New Year’s Eve Party, expect a smoked whole animal feast (pig, boar, lamb, goat), oysters, salads, sides, a dessert buffet, a midnight champagne toast, DJ, and premium open bar. Frontier: 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave., (773) 772-4322.
End the year with an endless feast. At the Crab Cellar, guests will be treated to never-ending Alaskan King Crab and Prime Filet and a glass of sparkling wine for $99.95 (plus tax and tip). Located just downstairs from Oyster Bah, Crab Cellar is a cozy, seafood-centric spot tucked away Lincoln Park. Crab Cellar: 1962 Halsted St., (773) 248-1737.
This upscale Italian spot will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on New Year’s Eve. Guests can choose between two seating times and menus. The lobster and truffle menu will be served from 5-9 p.m., and the white truffle menu will be served from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Between courses, guests can dance to live music. Pelago: 201 E. Delaware Place, (312) 280-0700.
Kick off the new year at this trendy spot in the Gold Coast neighborhood. The American-focused restaurant will be open all day on New Year’s Eve with their full dinner menu, plus seasonal additions from Michelin-starred Chef Lee Wolen. The best part? Your room for the night could be right upstairs. Somerset is tucked inside the trendy Viceroy Chicago, which also features a luxe rooftop bar. Somerset: 1112 N. State St., (312) 586-2150.
The new kid on the block is making its mark in Pilsen. New Year’s Eve at Monnie Burke’s will include live music, a special menu and a champagne toast at midnight. Monnie Burkes: 1163 W. 18th St., (312) 243-2410.
Indulge in all things Italian at NYE at Eataly: Mezzanotte. The all-inclusive bash will feature unlimited food and drinks, including bites from all of Eataly’s second floor restaurants. Sample authentic favorites like never-ending fresh pasta & risotto, pizza napoletana, arancini, mozzarella, and focaccia. Italian wine, cocktails and house made beer will be flowing (plus a Prosecco toast at midnight). Eataly: 43 E. Ohio St.
Tavern on Rush
Welcome 2020 at the buzzing Tavern on Rush, located in the heart of the bustling Gold Coast. Choose from classics off their regular dinner menu, with a steak and seafood focus, or try their New Year’s specials. Dinner will be served in the bar area and dining room. The kitchen will be open till 1 a.m. and diners can enjoy festive decorations, party favors and a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. Tavern on Rush:1031 N. Rush St.
Duck Duck Goat
Stephanie Izard’s “reasonably authentic” Chinese restaurant will be hosting a family-style meal for New Year’s Eve. The feast will begin with dim sum dishes and progress to larger shared plates. Reservations are now available, each will be allotted 90 minutes for tables of 2 and 120 minutes for parties of 3 or more. Duck Duck Goat: 857 W. Fulton Market
Chicago’s most romantic restaurant is hosting an intimate New Year’s Eve celebration, complete with classical/flamenco guitar music. Guests will enjoy a four-course fondue dinner with Swiss Gruyere cheese fondue appetizer, salad, lobster, shrimp and beef entrée and Geja’s famous flaming Belgian chocolate dessert fondue. Reservations are available for 5:00 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Geja’s Café: 340 W. Armitage
Sepia will be holding an elegant celebration featuring elevated wine pairings. The New Year’s Eve menu will be a prix fixe dining experience. Diners can choose a four course or six course menu. The first seating will be from 5 – 6:30 p.m., the second seating 7:30 – 10:15 p.m. Sepia: 23 N. Jefferson St.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve at the uppermost restaurant and lounge in Chicago featuring sparkling views of the city. The Signature Room offers a three-course prix fixe menu until 6:30 p.m. After that, there will be a five-course prix fixe menu until and 9 p.m. The later seatings are for guests over 21, and include a balloon drop at midnight and live music until 1 a.m. Signature Room: 875 N. Michigan Ave.
New Year’s Eve guests at Proxi will find a lively and festive menu, showcasing Chef Zimmerman’s globally-inspired
Toast to 2020 at Aba with craft cocktails and wines served alongside festive dinner specials including lamb osso bucco with hand-rolled saffron couscous and greek orzo with winter black truffles. Keep the celebrations going until midnight with complimentary pours of champagne. Aba: 302 N. Green St. 3rd floor
8. Kid-friendly celebrations for all ages
Chicago Children’s Museum Noon New Eve
Located at Navy Pier (which is a bonus, since its oozing with activities for kids), the Chicago Children’s Museum hosts an annual Noon Year’s Eve, with festivities beginning at 11:00 a.m. This event features fun activities such as personalized crown making and noise-making, not to mention confetti and a special countdown. Chicago Children’s Museum: Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave.
Zoo Year’s Eve
Want to escape the crowds? Then head to New Year at Brookfield Zoo‘s family-friendly celebration, featuring a live DJ in the Holly Jolly Theater. There are fun games, party favors, prizes and an early countdown at 8 p.m. Brookfield Zoo: 8400 W. 31st St.
New Year’s Eve Family Cruise
Celebrate the start of a new year on an all-ages afternoon cruise aboard the Anita Dee II. Take in stunning views of the skyline while enjoying a live DJ and a full bar with cocktails for you and mocktails for the kids. DuSable Harbor, 200 N. Breakwater Access