The Absolute Best Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve in Chicago

Start the year off with a bang.

After the relatively low-key and largely virtual affair that was last New Year’s festivities, Chicago is ready to explode with two years’ worth of pent-up party aggression to close out 2021. From fireworks-studded cruises and ping-pong tournaments to bar crawls and pajama parties, here’s everything fun you can do in Chicago this New Year’s Eve.

Events listed here may be subject to cancelation depending on the developing situation with COVID-19's Omicron variant, please call or check websites before booking.
Navy Pier
Navy Pier

Navy Pier
Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom is the setting for this over-the-top celebration with live entertainment, Chicago’s largest dance floor, and, of course, fireworks at midnight.
Cost: Tickets start at $105 per person

Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo
Party like an animal at this romantic event under the illuminated glow of the millions-strong ZooLights display along with open animal exhibits, a live DJ, games, giveaways, and more.
Cost: Tickets start at $15 per person

Hideout Inn
Hideout Inn

Hideout
One of Chicago’s most beloved dive bars gets into the NYE fray with this unique combination of comedy, live music, drag performances, DJ sets, and—in their words—“chaos, calamity, balloon animals, and more.”
Cost: Tickets run $25 per person

Morgan MFG
Morgan MFG

Morgan Manufacturing
Since NYE isn’t NYE without at least one Roaring ‘20s party, there’s this stylish shindig in cool warehouse digs with ever-flowing Champagne, high-end chocolates, and DJs spinning throughout multiple rooms.
Cost: Tickets start at $99 per person

Boards at DuSable Harbor
Step aboard the three-story, 140-foot luxury Anita Dee II yacht for this nautical NYE bash complete with an open bar, midnight Champagne toast, desserts, and the best damn fireworks in the city.
Cost: Tickets start at $100 per person

SPIN (Chicago, IL)
SPIN (Chicago, IL)

SPIN
This Chicago Sport & Social-hosted NYE gathering sets up shop in SPIN’s boozy ping-pong den for a night of games, photo-ops, appetizers, bottle service, confetti cannons and, of course, that old NYE staple—ping-pong.
Cost: Tickets start at $75 per person

Theater on the Lake
Exercise more than just your digestive system at this festive 5K taking place along the scenic shores of Lake Michigan with food and drink, a post-race Champagne toast, and a virtual option.
Cost: Tickets run $60 per person

Meeting House Tavern
Meeting House Tavern

Meeting House Tavern
Press “reset” on the year with this laid-back pajama party featuring classic Nintendo Switch games like Mario Kart 9, plus board games, Skee-ball, shuffleboard, darts, pool, and drink specials like $5 Chicago Handshakes. Your 12-year-old self will thank you.
Cost: No cover; menu prices vary

District Brew Yards
Chicago’s premiere pour-your-own brewery hosts this suds-soaked affair with 40 taps to pull in between brewer-curated specialty shots, a barbecue buffet, DJ sets, dancing, and more.
Cost: Tickets start at $69 per person

Choose Chicago
Choose Chicago

Various locations
Why wait an entire year to build up regrets when you knock them all out in one night? That’s the idea behind this bar crawl with check-in spots spanning infamous dens of debauchery such as Beaumont and Bourbon on Division, with scavenger hunt and shuttle service, to boot.
Cost: Tickets run $30 per person

HUSH Chicago
HUSH Chicago

Secret location
Cannabis-friendly event company Hush Chicago hosts this covert shindig with interactive live experiences (including an ice-sculpting demo), DJ sets, a marijuana bar, food and drink, masquerade décor, and more.
Cost: Tickets start at $100 per person

Hilton Chicago Hotel
Hilton Chicago Hotel

Hilton Chicago
One of Chicago’s largest NYE affairs is this long-running gathering of the throngs with seven party areas across several huge ballrooms featuring casino gambling, a comedy show, KISS FM DJs, buffets, and a midnight “confetti storm.”
Cost: Tickets start at $125 per person

The Newport Theater
The Newport Theater

Newport Theater
Newport continues to do things a little differently with this speakeasy-style NYE session featuring burlesque, fire performers, bellydancing, sketch comedy, specialty cocktails, and a best-dressed contest.
Cost: Tickets start at $59 per person

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Jay Gentile is an award-winning freelance journalist specializing in travel, food & drink, culture, events and entertainment stories. In addition to Thrillist, you can find his work in The Washington Post, The Guardian, CNN Travel, Chicago Tribune, Lonely Planet, VICE, Outside Magazine and more. Follow @thejaygentile.