Spending New Year’s Eve in Chicago and looking for a fun way to celebrate other than the usual dinner and drinks? There are tons of unique things to do in Chicago on New Year’s Eve to ring in 2024 whether you are looking to party all night or enjoy an early celebration and head to bed early.
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Things to Do in Chicago on New Year’s Eve 2023
New Year’s Eve is a great time to visit Chicago. There are tons of things to do in Chicago on New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2023) including watching fireworks, fun shows, enjoying holiday lights, visiting holiday attractions and more!
Below are the top unique things to do in Chicago on New Year’s Eve both for adults and families.
Watch Fireworks Over the Lake
Ring in the New Year with a free fireworks show at Navy Pier. Find a spot anywhere on the pier to welcome in the New Year with a dazzling fireworks display that will cast glows across the lakefront.
When: 11:50 pm – 11:59 pm on Sunday, December 31, 2023.
You don’t have to visit Navy Pier to enjoy the fireworks, you can also see the them from the lakefront and various restaurants.
You can also see fireworks from the water on a fireworks lake cruise.
Crawl ‘Til The Ball Falls: Chicago NYE Bar Crawl 2024
Join the Crawl ‘Til The Ball Falls: Chicago NYE Bar Crawl to experience the best bars that Chicago has to offer—all in one New Year’s Eve crawl. Go around for champagne toasts, watch the televised ball drop in Times Square, and listen to the best music across all of Chicago’s hottest venues. You’ll be able to enjoy drink specials all night for an incredible time without breaking the bank. You’ll receive a wristband that’ll grant you entry into all of the participating bars and clubs around Chicago, so you don’t have to worry about paying for covers.
Where: Clark Street Ale House, 742 North Clark Street
When: 6 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Cost: General admission is $30.
Celebrate with the Blue Man Group
Looking for unique NYE activity? Enjoy a musical and artistic show (as well as New Year’s celebrations) featuring lots of audience interaction with the blue-painted cast of the Blue Man Group.
There are 4 shows on New Year’s Eve. The 1pm and 4pm performances will feature early “midnight” countdowns after the show, party hats, noisemakers and pre-show face painting. The 7pm performance will have a celebratory champagne toast and party hats. Audiences of the 10pm performance will experience a New Year’s Eve countdown party complete with noisemakers, a midnight champagne toast and performance of “Auld Lang Syne”.
Where: Briar Street Theatre, 3133 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60657
When: Show times are 1:00pm, 4:00pm, 7:00pm & 10:00pm
Cost: Tickets range from $49 to $79 per person.
Chicago Magic Lounge New Year’s Eve Signature Show Celebration
Chicago Magic Lounge is having a special New Year’s Eve celebration event. See close-up magic performed by their house magicians at your cabaret table while enjoying their full-service bar and kitchen. After the Table Magic, there is a 60-minute magic stage show. All ticket holders will receive a souvenir champagne flute and join in a champagne toast welcoming 2024.
Where: Chicago Magic Lounge, 5050 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL, 60640
When: Starts at 10:00pm CST
Cost: Ticket prices for this show range from $85 to $120. Guests who purchase Premium tickets for the Front Row, Main Floor Cabaret, or Main Floor Banquette are invited to an exclusive close-up magic performance in The 654 Club, their 43-seat close-up gallery, right after the main stage show. Availability is limited.
ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo
ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo is a cheerful, family-friendly holiday event in the heart of the city. Zoolights features hundreds of luminous LED displays and seasonal experiences, all under the glow of millions of lights. This is a great place for a family-friendly New Year’s Eve with countdowns every hour.
When: Open 4:30–10:00 p.m.
Where: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2400 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
Cost: $10. Tickets are available for purchase online.
Disney100: The Exhibition
The Disney100: The Exhibition is ending its limited time run in Chicago on New Year’s Eve. See historical and special treasures, works of art, artifacts, costumes, and memorabilia from the Walt Disney Archives. Celebrate the magic of Disney, wonder at more than 250 artifacts and props, see costumes from some of your favorite Disney classics, and explore enchanting galleries that bring the magic of Disney to life. Featuring the latest members of the Disney family (Pixar, Star Wars, and MARVEL) along with renowned classics like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and recent releases such as Encanto.
Where: Exhibition Hub Art Center Chicago, 2367 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647
When: Last entry is 4:00 pm on New Year’s Eve.
Cost: Price varies. Click here for full prices and to purchase tickets in advance.
Go Outdoor Ice Skating
There are several places to go outdoor ice skating in Chicago for New Year’s Eve but make sure to reserve in advance!
Skating at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.) right in front of the famous Bean sculpture is a fun New Year’s Eve activity. The last ice skating session is last session is 9:00PM-10:30PM. Online ticketed reservations are recommended. Tickets for New Year’s Eve go on sale for the public Sunday, December 17, 2023 at 11:00 AM CST.
Another ice skating rink with great skyline views is the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park (337 E Randolph St.) located next to Millennium Park. Online reservations for New Year’s will be released at 12:00pm (noon) on Monday, December 4, 2023.
See the City of Chicago Christmas Tree
Check out the official City of Chicago Christmas Tree, a 45-foot Colorado Blue Spruce, at Millennium Park.
When: Millennium Park is open daily from 6am–11pm.
Where: Millennium Park (near the intersection of Michigan Avenue & Washington Street).
See a Show
If you want to do something fun earlier in the evening, there are several shows taking place in Chicago on New Year’s Eve – from Drunk Shakespeare, to plays and comedy shows:
– Drunk Shakespeare (The Lounge At The Lion, 182 North Wabash Avenue)
– Trickery Chicago Magic Show (3453 N Halsted Street)
– Laugh Factory Chicago (3175 N Broadway)
– Steph Tolev at ZANIES Comedy Night Club (1548 N Wells St)
You can search for more shows on New Year’s Eve here.
Last Chance to Visit Christkindlmarket
New Year’s Eve is your last chance to visit Christkindlmarket in 2023 if you haven’t already. The downtown location will already be closed for the season but the Gallagher Way location in Wrigleyville is open until New Year’s Eve. Indulge in various German food and drinks such as hot spiced wine at this authentic German-style outdoor market.
Where: Gallagher Way, 3635 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613
Hours: Open 11 am – 4 pm on New Year’s Eve.
Cost: Admission is FREE.
Winterland at Gallagher Way
In addition to Christkindlmarket Wrigleyville, you can enjoy more family-friendly festivities at Winterland both at Gallagher Way and inside historic Wrigley Field including an outdoor ice rink. Purchase tickets in advance here.
When: Open 11 am – 4 pm on New Year’s Eve
Where: Gallagher Way, 3635 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613
Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier
Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier is the largest indoor and outdoor holiday experience in Chicago. In addition to outdoor holiday lights, enjoy outdoor ice skating and axe throwing.
Where: Festival Hall at Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
When: Open 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM on December 31, 2023
Cost: Prices vary. Includes both free and ticketed activities.
THE POLAR EXPRESS Train Ride
Looking for a fun New Year’s Eve activity with kids? THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Ride is a re-creation of the classic children’s story on board a real train. Passengers are served hot chocolate and a treat by dancing chefs and enjoy a reading of the book by Chris Van Allsburg. Performers engage passengers in caroling and fun holiday activities on the return trip to Union Station. The train ride lasts an hour and passengers are encouraged to wear pajamas. Tickets are on sale now and sell out quickly.
Where: Train leaves and returns from Chicago Union Station at 500 W Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60606.
When: Train runs at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm, 6:30pm and 8:25 pm on New Year’s Eve.
Cost: Pricing varies. Visit their website for pricing and to buy tickets.
Stand on the Ledge at The Skydeck at Willis Tower
The Skydeck, the observatory on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, is a great spot to enjoy skyline views. For the best instagram photos head to The Ledge, glass balconies extending four feet outside the 103rd floor. (Click here to buy a skip the line ticket if you want to avoid long lines).
Where: Willis Tower, 233 S Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606
Hours: Timed tickets are available until 7:00pm on New Year’s Eve. Advance tickets are strongly recommended.
See Holiday Lights
Jump in the car and take a drive to see holiday lights. These holiday light shows and displays in the suburbs are open on New Year’s Eve:
Lightscape at the Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, IL 60022) – Timed entry tickets available from 4:30 -9:15 pm
Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum (4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, IL 60532 – Timed entry tickets available from 4:30 – 8 pm
Winter Lights at Central Park – Oak Brook Park District (1510 Forest Gate Rd, Oak Brook, IL) – from 4:30-9:30 PM
Naper Lights in downtown Naperville – 4 – 10 PM
You can find more details and other places to see holiday lights in Chicago and the suburbs here.
As you can see there are many things to do in Chicago on New Year’s Eve.
Planning a trip to Chicago? Check out my Chicago guides and itineraries:
- 3 Days in Chicago: The Perfect Weekend Itinerary
- 24 Hours in Chicago: A Perfect One Day Itinerary From a Local
- Most Instagrammable Places in Chicago
- Best Free Things to Do in Chicago