Fun Chicago NYE Traditions to Try This Year

Ring in the New Year with an exciting, new tradition shared with family or friends. The third-largest city in the U.S. offers countless ways to celebrate the year gone by and usher in a new one. From a special midnight dinner to spending the evening with a few furry friends, we’ve compiled a list of fun Chicago NYE traditions to check out this year. 

chicago NYE traditions marathon 5k
Image Credit: Chicago Sport & Social Club

Sprint into the New Year with a 5K

Kick off the last day of the year with a scenic race along the Chicago lakefront. Chicago Sport and Social Club’s annual New Years Eve 5K begins at 9AM at Theater on the Lake and includes a virtual option for those wishing to stay at home. All runners receive a finisher’s medal, branded t-shirt, and the chance to enjoy a champagne toast at the end! Entry for the race costs $60, and participants must register online.


Enjoy a celebratory dinner

Restaurants throughout the city are pulling out all the stops on New Years Eve with multi-course meals and other specials. You can purchase pre-paid meals for the evening at Geja’s Cafe in Lincoln Park, which include full fondue dinners and champagne selections. Packages range from $120-$150 per person. 


The New Years Eve dinner at Alla Vita in West Loop encompasses a family-style meal that highlights the restaurant’s most famed Italian dishes. With prices ranging from $125-$165 per person, the special includes a complimentary midnight toast. 

Enjoy live Latin jazz music at Artango Bar & Steakhouse in Lincoln Square as you eat your way through their four-course holiday offering, which starts at $95 per person.


Catch a spectacular fireworks show

Chicago’s most famous firework shows take place at Navy Pier and over the Chicago River this year. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and a spot along the lake or the river near midnight to watch as beautiful colors light up the sky. Rather be on the water? Check out dinner cruise options on the Chicago River to be right in the middle of the action.


Cheer on the New Year under sparkling lights

Did you miss out on seeing ZooLights in time for Christmas? Now is your chance to ring in the New Year under millions of glittering Christmas lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo. This 21+ event offers a cash bar, games, giveaway, and even features a live DJ both indoors and outdoors.

The festivities begin at 9 PM with tickets starting at $15 for the evening.

Ring in 2022 with a win

Get into a competitive spirit this New Year at WhirlyBall’s New Year’s Bash. Enjoy unlimited WhirlyBall, bowling, laser tag, and other pop-up games. A $75 ticket includes access to a buffet for the evening as well as a drinks package. The games begin at 9PM and end at 12:30 AM for this 21+ event.

Featured Image Credit: Chicago Sport & Social Club