New Year's Eve in Chicago: Things to Do and Where to Celebrate

December 10, 2021

It’s hard to believe the year is already coming to an end. Get ready to end it with a bang!

If you find yourself in the Midwest this holiday season, look no further than Chicago to spend New Year’s Eve. There’s nothing average about this cultured city located in the middle of the country. Not to be outdone by metropolises such as New York City and Los Angeles, Chicago celebrates the new year in style.

From family-friendly events to lavish parties, there’s something for everyone in Chicago on New Year’s Eve. You won’t find a better place to feel the winds of change that come with a new year than the Windy City. Take a look at some of the city’s biggest and best New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Wide shot of the Son Grand Ballroom blanketed in pink light for Year on the Pier at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Navy Pier via Facebook

The Best New Year’s Eve Events in Chicago 

Navy Pier New Year’s Eve Events

Navy Pier is the epicenter of Chicago’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. An extravagant fireworks display over Lake Michigan lights up the night at this iconic location. Snag a spot on the lakefront to watch the magic happen. Better yet, attend one of the parties happening on the pier this year for an exclusive view!

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New Year on the Pier in the stunning Aon Grand Ballroom is an event that will exceed your expectations. Dance the night away to a live band and DJ while you fill up on gourmet appetizers and drinks galore. It all culminates in Navy Pier’s massive fireworks display at midnight. Take in the flying sparks and the dazzling skyline from your front-row view! Opt for a VIP package to reserve seating for your party.

Photo Alert: Arrive in your best party ensemble to snap some pictures at one of the multiple photo ops sprinkled throughout the night.

Get your tickets for the Offshore Rooftop party today to end the year on a high note! The venue’s airy glass atrium is the perfect place to perch as you take in the pier’s spectacular fireworks. Celebrate with a sushi station and midnight toast. Dress to impress in your finest cocktail or formal attire. 

Graphic for Zoo Years Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo with a crowd of people and trees covered in lights in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Lincoln Park Zoo via Facebook

Zoo Year’s Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo 

Start the new year with a roar at Zoo Year’s Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo! The zoo’s ZooLights displays will light up the night for a New Year’s Eve experience like no other. A DJ, games, giveaways, and the chance to see any animals that decide to make an appearance are all part of the fun.

This event is only for guests ages 21 and up, so leave the kiddos at home for this one. Super early bird tickets start at $15 and increase as it gets closer to the event date, so get yours today!

Zoo Year’s Eve at the Brookfield Zoo

Spending New Year’s Eve in Chicago with the whole family? The Brookfield Zoo’s New Year’s Eve event is an event that family members, young and old alike, can enjoy. The evening includes a DJ, games, and party favors. There will also be an early countdown to the new year at 8 p.m. for those who can’t stay up past their bedtime!

Best of all, the event is free for zoo members or included with paid zoo admission. No extra ticket is required!

close up of three Blue Man Group performers on stage with lights in Chicago, Illinois, USABlue Man Group New Year’s Eve Celebration

You’re in for a world of surprise when you celebrate New Year’s Eve with the Blue Man Group!

Related Post: Insider’s Guide to Blue Man Group Chicago

The celebration includes the Blue Men’s wacky version of “Auld Lang Syne,” a midnight confetti and streamer display, and other surprises we won’t spoil. 

Just remember, if you sit in the first five rows, put that poncho on and thank us later!

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The special New Year’s Eve show begins at 10 p.m.

Pro Tip: The Blue Man Group also hosts shows at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve for kids and those who prefer to celebrate with a good night’s rest.

Wide shot of the interior of Time Out Market with a large black and white round sign hanging in the middle and wooden chairs and tables filling the room in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Time Out Market Chicago via Facebook

Future Disco: New Year’s Eve at Time Out Market

Celebrating the new beginning of the new year doesn’t mean we have to forget about days past. Reminisce about yesterday while ushering in tomorrow as you groove to the music of decades past alongside music of today on a light-up dance floor. 

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Market vendors will provide the food and drinks -- some of which will be included with your ticket! The confetti storm at midnight will be well worth the night-long wait. 

Family with tree young boys blooming bubbles at DuPage Children’s Museum Annual Bubble Bash in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: DuPage Children's Museum via Facebook

DuPage Children’s Museum Annual Bubble Bash

This event is back for its 20th year at the DuPage Children’s Museum located in Naperville, just outside Chicago. Kids can get creative with various craft projects to choose from, such as firework paintings, confetti poppers, or DIY party rockets. In addition, the museum’s educators will host bubbling science experiments to wow guests.

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There are two countdowns -- one at 11 a.m. and one at 12:30 p.m. Count down with confetti, bubbles, or a party rocket launch! The choice is yours at this family-friendly event. 

Noon Year’s Eve at the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn

Families traveling with little ones likely won’t make it all the way until midnight. Fortunately, just south of Chicago, the Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn offers the Noon Year’s Eve event for young children and parents! This year, the event is going virtual, so grab your Noon Year’s kit and forget worrying about the commute. 

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The festivities include entertainment from The Awesome Squad, a countdown, and a confetti cannon craft. The celebration begins at 11:30 a.m.

Close up view of the pink neon sign that says "The Drake" in black letter font on top of The Drake Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: The Drake Hotel (140 E Walton Pl, Chicago) via Facebook

Where to Stay (and Party) on New Year’s Eve in Chicago

New Year’s Eve Party 2022 at The Drake Hotel

This year, head to The Drake Hotel for Chicago’s longest-running New Year’s Eve party. All the glitz and glamour will span five ballrooms, so you’ll have plenty of room to celebrate.

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Several DJs, an all-inclusive drink and appetizer package, two balloon drops, and desserts and coffee after midnight will keep the party going all night long. 

JW Marriott Chicago New Year’s Eve

Party tickets and room packages at the JW Marriott Hotel are a great way to celebrate and save at the same time. The party takes place in multiple rooms and includes three top DJs to get the party started. There are three events included with your ticket!

The Hilton Chicago New Year’s Eve Gala 2022

Put on your best semi-formal attire and head over to this unforgettable event at the Hilton Chicago. A buffet, desserts, and both hot and cold hor d'oeuvres are all ready to satisfy your appetite at this smashing party.

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There will be no shortage of entertainment with 12 party acts.  Don’t be a party crasher -- get your tickets today! 

Chicago New Year’s Eve Party at the Swissotel Chicago Hotel

Grab an all-inclusive ticket to the New Year’s Eve Party at the Swissotel Chicago Hotel to turn the page on 2021 in style. Food, drinks, and entertainment are all on the itinerary for this glamorous night. 

New Years Eve Family Cruise graphic with white lettering and boot with the city of Chicago in the background in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: The Chicago Daily Event List via Facebook

Sail Away on Chicago New Year’s Eve Cruises

If you’d prefer to head to the open sea instead of spending your New Year’s Eve landlocked and fighting the crowds to catch a view of the fireworks over Lake Michigan, a cruise may be more your style. 

Related Post: 11 of the Best Things to Do in Chicago at Night

Chicago offers a myriad of dinner and fireworks cruises. Take in the magnificent skyline view under the starry sky as you sail into the night. Reserve your spot on one of these cruises today:

Psst… don’t brag to your landlubber friends, but you’ll have the best seat in the house for all the New Year’s Eve fireworks displays!

Chicago Attractions and Museums Open on New Year’s Eve

Since most New Year’s Eve events take place at night (understandably), you’ll need something to fill your time during the day. Why not visit some of the city’s iconic attractions?

Related Post: 11 Exciting Things to Do in Chicago with Teenagers

Check out these destinations on New Year’s Eve:

Looking down at several different plates of food from Alla Vita in Chicago, Illinois, USA

photo credit: Alla Vita via Facebook

The Best Chicago Eats on New Year’s Eve 

Chicago has dining options galore on New Year’s Eve. The trouble will be narrowing it down! We’re here to help.

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Be sure to call ahead to ensure they have regular hours on the holiday. These spots are usually buzzing, so check to see if you need reservations!

Here’s where to go if you’re craving… 

A Four-Course Italian Dinner

Alla Vita is hosting special dinners from 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

A Michelin Star Restaurant

Next Restaurant is open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Freshest Pan Asian Food

Noodles Etc. is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Classic Deep Dish Pizza

Giordano’s is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Authentic Middle Eastern Food

Al Bawadi Grill is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Chicago this Year

A trip to the Windy City is one of the best ways to kick off the new year. Whether it’s the breathtaking lakeside, the exciting downtown happenings, or the deep dish pizza that draws you in, you’re sure to find a spectacular spot to shake off the old year and get a fresh start!

Head to Tripster to bundle hotels and attractions so you can get the biggest bang for your buck while you’re there!

michaela smiling holding magazine with body of water in background

Written By Michaela

Michaela is a journalist who views every story she writes as an adventure, leading her to explore new places and meet new people. She is based in the Midwest ...

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