Top things to do to ring in the New Year

2018 is fast approaching, and here in Chicago, New Year’s Eve is quite the event. Hundreds of events are taking place across the city to help Chicagoans ring in the new year, from masquerade balls to bowling parties to all-night blowouts. We rounded up some of the best, most unique events in and around New Eastside.

Party Animals

For the 18th year in a row, The Drake will host a New Year’s Eve bash for more than 3,000 guests, voted the “Best Party in Chicago” by ABC’s Good Morning America.

At midnight, thousands of balloons will drop from the ceiling as guests toast with free champagne to the start of 2018. Donning complimentary New Year’s party favors and celebrating with noisemakers, top shelf liquor will flow all night at the hotel’s 40 fully staffed bars, with a four hour all inclusive cocktail package. A chef’s selection of hors d’oeuvres will be served throughout the evening, with coffee and desserts after midnight.

Photo provided by The Drake.

The “Vegas style” event is hosted by Chicago Scene Magazine and runs from 9p.m. to 2a.m. Some of the city’s best DJs will take over the historic hotel, with live performances by DJ Wizz Kid and Miro and DJ Charles Protege performing top 40 songs, and house and hip hop hits. DJ Justin Dahl and Bam Bam Buddha will spin commercial, tech and progressive house in another room, accompanied by state of the art sound and lighting.

The event includes a pre-party with a free glass of champagne on Dec. 30 at The Godfrey Hotel IO Urban Roofscape in River North.

Tickets are available online with prices from $149 per person for access to three ballrooms, to $2,999 for an 8-person table in The Gold Coast Ballroom with full bottle service.

Closer to New Eastside is the Commons Club, 203 N. Wabash, which is hosting a New Year’s Eve blowout that includes a night of great drinks, talented DJs, and an exclusive pre fixe three-course dinner with Chef Moosah.

“We live our lives like every eve is New Year’s Eve, but this year let’s get a little extra glitzy and feel a little extra fizzy,” reads an event description by Commons Club. The North Wabash Avenue bar is hosting a New Year’s Eve blowout that includes a premium bar package, a midnight champagne toast, and an exclusive pre fixe three-course dinner with Chef Moosah.

Talented DJs will entertain until 2a.m. as guests ring in the New Year in their best dressed style.

Tickets are available online, and start at $249 for a drink and dinner package, with VIP packages available for parties of 10 in a VIP “shag room” for just over $4000.

 

Roaring Twenties

Throw on your best fringe dresses, pearls and tuxedos and step into one of Jay Gatsby’s 1920’s soirees at 2Twenty2, 222 S. Wabash Ave. where ladies and gentlemen are encouraged to embrace the flapper style and dance the night away.

Guests will enjoy open bar from 9p.m. to 1a.m., but don’t spread the word, it’s the 1920s after all and only “prohibition cocktails” will be served to fit the underground theme for this second annual event.

Bar owners say the party will also include free pizza, champagne at midnight and a potential photo booth on the bar stage.

Early bird tickets are $65, or tickets can be purchased at the door for $75.

To RSVP, email 2twenty2tavern@gmail.com or call 312-878-9994

 

Night Owls

Spend the first four hours of 2018 celebrating at Nova New Year’s Eve party, voted best in the city for college students and recent grads.

Guests in their best cocktail attire can ask for no better welcome than the one they’ll receive at this party – everyone will be handed a free glass of champagne as they walk through the door. Nova has rented out dance club Sound Bar, at 226 West Ontario St., for a party co-hosted by the Chicago Twenty Something group that goes from 9p.m. to 4a.m. The evening includes $1 top shelf drinks, with a promise of no long waits for drinks, a champagne toast at midnight, and a small bite buffet.

More than 1,000 people will be on the dance floors in the club’s six rooms, where Chicago’s best DJs will spin in three booths. The party will also include free noisemakers and party favors to help you feel extra festive. 

“Nova NYE is unique because we rent out Chicago’s Largest Club and bring out crowd that typically wouldn’t frequent clubs,” said Freddie Kole from Chicago Twenty Something. “Basically, we bring out customers who you would typically find in Wrigleyville or on one of our bar crawls and bring them to a huge club.”

Photo by Chicago Twenty Something, Inc.

But party lovers don’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve – tickets include access to two pre-parties. 

On Dec. 29, Public House, 400 N. State St in New Eastside will give free cocktails to Nova guests between 9p.m. and 1a.m., and on Dec. 30, Moe’s Cantina in River North will give each party goer two free cocktails.  

At the party, be sure to enter Nova’s photo contest by posting photos to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #NovaNYE. A panel of judges will choose a winner after the party. Photos from last year’s event can be viewed here.

Tickets are expected to sell out, and can be purchased online

Packages range from $99 for an early bird general admission to $1,000 for a 25-guest table in the main room with a bottle of Belvedere.

 

90s Nostalgia

If you’d like to commemorate everyone’s most paranoid New Year’s Eve, check out the Back to the 90’s Escape Room. The event, an escape style game that challenges you to find clues and solve puzzles, brings you back to Dec. 31, 1999  “to save humanity from the Y2K bug.”  

Photo by goldstar.com

Held at the Fine Arts Building 408 S. Michigan Ave., you’ll be pressed for time to solve the puzzle before the ball drops in New York’s Times Square and rings in the new millennium.

The game can be played daily through Dec. 31 (2017), with tickets available online for $21.

 

 

Whether you want to party all night or have a more relaxed celebration with friends, Chicago has no shortage of options for ringing in the New Year.

 

The ultimate guide to downtown Santa sightings

By Angela Gagnon and Nicole Vandeboom | Staff Writers

November 16, 2017

With the holiday season drawing near,

Santa will be in Chicago, spreading cheer.

Perched in his chair at State Street Macy’s store

Or appearing in downtown places galore.

Wonder where you’ll find him this year?

Look no further, this list makes it clear.

*Schedules subject to change. Check with locations for updates.

The Cozy Cloud Cottage

5th floor of Macy’s Department Store, 111 N. State St.

For special Santaland hours, visit macys.com

Midwest Headquarters Santa Claus House in Millennium Park

Located in Chase Promenade.

Open to children of all ages with free entry. Photography is not provided.

Friday, November 17, to Sunday, December 17, 12-6 p.m.

Santa at 900 North Michigan Shops

900 N. Michigan Ave., Level 3

Saturday, November 18, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sunday, November 19, 12-5 p.m.

Monday, November 20 to Friday, November 24, 12-6 p.m.

Santa Suite at Swissotel

Swissotel, 323 E. Upper Wacker Dr., Presidential Suite on 41st floor

Starting November 30, the entire suite will be decorated

in the spirit and magic of the season, with 12 Christmas

trees and a table set for Santa.

Entry is free. The suite is also available for private group

visits and holiday receptions.

For hours and more info, visit swissotel.com.

Santa at Water Tower Place

835 N. Michigan Ave., – Level 7

Monday–Saturday, 12–7 p.m. Sunday, 12–6 p.m.

Saturday, December 16–23, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Sunday, December 24, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Santa at Chicago Tree Lighting Ceremony

Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave.

Friday, November 17, 4-8 p.m.

Santa at Magnificent Mile

Festival of Lights

Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Ave.

Saturday, November 18, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

Parade 5:30-7 p.m., proceeds south along

Michigan Ave. from Oak St.

Santa at Thanksgiving Day Parade

Santa’s magnificent sled will cruise down State

St. from Congress Pkwy. to Randolph St.

Thursday, November 23, 8–11 a.m.

Santa at Museum of Science

and Industry

5700 S. Lake Shore Dr.

Enjoy Christmas Around the World and the Holiday of Lights.

December 2–17, 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Tickets for Santa photos in the museum’s entry

hall cost $30. Members get 10 percent off.

Santa at Merry Merry Chicago

Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.

Ashley Brown, CSO members and the Chicago

Children’s Choir will be featured performing holiday

songs and a sing-along of festive favorites. For ages five and up.

Friday, December 15, at 7 p.m.; Saturday,

December 16, 3 p.m.; Sunday December 17,

4:30 p.m.; Friday, December 22, 7 p.m.; and

Sunday December 23, 3 p.m.

Santa at Lincoln Park Zoo Lights

2001 N. Clark St., inside the Kovler Lion

House. Free Santa event with photos available for purchase.

Open 4:30–9:00 p.m. November 24-26, December 1-3 and December 8-22.

Santa at Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest

600 E. Grand Ave.

Go inside Santa’s home at the foot of the giant tree,

available December 2–24.

Open Fridays through Sundays, 11 a.m.–6

p.m.; Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m.–4

p.m.; and Sunday, December 24, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

Skate with Santa at Maggie Daley Park

337 E. Randolph St.

For ages 2-13, morning skate, holiday crafts

and pictures with Santa.

Saturday, December 16, 10 a.m.-noon.

Entry is free. Skate rental is available for

purchase.

Holiday Breakfast with Santa at the Shedd Aquarium

1200 S. Lakeshore Dr.

Hot chocolate, Polar Express, and meet and

greet with Santa.

7:45 a.m.–11 a.m. on weekends, December 9–10, 16–17 and 23.

Entry costs $49.95 for adults, $39.95 for children,

is free for kids under age 3 and includes admission to the aquarium.

Spirit of Chicago Santa Lunch Cruise

Departs from Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.

Holiday lunch buffet, DJ for music, dancing

and dazzling views of the water.

Saturday, December 9, 1:15–3:15 p.m.

Boarding begins at 12:30 p.m. $44.90 per person

CTA Holiday Train and Bus

Traveling all el lines in late November and

December as part of regular rail service.

3-7 p.m. on select weekdays and 1-8 p.m. on

weekends. Visit transitchicago.com/holidaytrain for full schedule.

Five quirky gift ideas

By Gianna Annunzio | Staff Writer

November 16, 2017

Adopt a Catfish

Any Chicagoan can help make the Chicago River healthier by adopting one of its 277,000 channel catfish. These fish were released into the river as part of the “Friends of the Chicago River” restoration project. By adopting a catfish or giving one as a gift, you will make it possible for Friends to advocate for clean water and a healthy habitat. You can help the environment, and celebrate any occasion with this gift.

For more information, visit www.chicagoriver.org/get-involved/donate/adopt-a-catfish

Whirlyball

Give the gift of lacrosse, basketball and bumper cars all in one with a Whirlyball gift certificate. ThisChicago-native game is a classic in the local scene, where a minimum of four players can drive a “souped- up” bumper car and shoot a whirly ball into the net. Some locations even include additional games like laser tag, bowling, pool and arcade games.

For more information, visit www.whirlyball.com

Chicago Snuggie

There are numerous ways to support your favorite Chicago sports team, like gifting a team snuggie this holiday season. The MLB store offers a range of team options from the Chicago Cubs, Bulls, Blackhawks and Bears. Instead of offering your sports-obsessed friend or family member commonly gifted sportswear—like a t-shirt or jersey—mix it up this season with a comfortable way to support their team.

For more information, visit www.mlbshop.com

Ritualistic Mist

The holidays are the best time to ask for something you want, even if it means using a ritualistic mist. Augustine’s Apothecary on Halsted offers the “Come to Me” kit, used to attract a person you love, a job, wealth, abundance— anything you want to bring into your life. The kit includes ritual instructions, sea salt, a piece of rose quartz,  a white votive candle, a Come to Me Mist-Spray and a love-drawing herbal sachet.

For more information, visit

www.augustines.biz/product/come-to-me-kit

Nose Warmer

Cold noses are now a thing of the past during Chicago’s cold winter months. The nose warmer is a unique way to keep your nose from freezing up when the temperature drops below zero. These crocheted beauties are available in different colors and designs, making your face the center of attention at any outdoor event.

For more information, visit www.etsy.com/shop/auntmartymadeit

Local grocers make holiday feast prep a breeze

By Nicole VandeBoom | Staff Writer

November 16, 2017

If you find the concept of preparing, cooking and cleaning up after holiday meals daunting—or if you are busy this holiday season and unsure how to fit in meal prep—cater your meal from a local grocery store and you can still be the host with the most.

We scoped out four options in the New Eastside, their menu offerings, ease of ordering and bonus features.

Whole Foods

Ordering from Whole Foods, 225 E. Grand Ave., is easy with their full online menu. The store has special holiday menu items including cooked turkeys, side dishes and desserts. The menu changes based on each upcoming holiday. You can schedule your pick-up by date and specific time. For catering and holiday menus, visit whole foodsmarket.com

Treasure Island

A separate online holiday menu is available from Treasure Island, 680 N. Lakeshore Dr., but you must either call or email their catering department to order. Treasure Island offers traditional choices like turkey and ham dinners, as well as other meals like roast duck and prime rib. The store also offers a catering service, where uniformed staff set up and serve your meal, for $35 to $45 per hour. Orders require 24 to 48-hour notice, but Treasure Island works to accommodate customers based on their needs. “Our great customer service, our great food quality, freshly made, and our best prices, is what sets us apart from other grocers,” said Ariel Morales, Treasure Island’s deli buyer and merchandiser. For more information, visit tifoods.com

Mariano’s

Mariano’s Lakeshore East location, 333 E. Benton Pl., keeps around 70–80 holiday meals in stock and usually sells out each year. Meals include turkeys, spiral hams, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry relish. All meals are fully cooked, but are packaged cold and need to be reheated when served. Orders can be placed as early as a month in advance and according to catering department employee Adam Heusinkveld, “The sooner orders are placed, the better.” For more information on catering and holiday menus or to place an order, call (312) 228-1349

Bockwinkel’s

Bockwinkel’s, 155 N Harbor Dr. and 222 N. Columbus Dr., offers a smaller grab- and-go selection consisting of deli and bakery trays. For the customer who needs to bring an appetizer or dessert to a holiday party, this store is a quick and easy option. Choose from meat and cheese trays, sandwich trays, all meat trays, fruit trays, veggie trays, and many more. Their bakery options include dessert trays, croissant trays, breakfast trays and decorated cakes. For more information, visit bockwinkels.com

Lakeshore East Mariano’s deli department offers a wide variety of meals, sides and trays for your events. Photo by Nicole VandeBoom.

Best doorperson gifts

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

November 16, 2017

For many of us in the neighborhood, one of the most enjoyable holiday traditions is to show appreciation for the staff who work in our buildings by donating to our buildings’ holiday funds. A nice monetary contribution dropped into the managers’ designated “gift fund” box is the standard way of giving, but we thought we might offer you some inspiration to stir your creative juices a little, and perhaps you will be inspired to give something a bit different this year.

Chalres Mosley, who has worked as a doorman for seven years at the 400 E. Randolph Condominium, recalls his most memorable holiday gift–a gallon bottle of Jack Daniels.

We surveyed the staff at local apartment and condo buildings about the best or most unique holiday gifts they have ever received.

Here are some of the responses:

“Bulls tickets to go watch my favorite

team.”

—Mike Watts, Shoreham employee for

four years and now at the Aqua, 225 N.

Columbus Dr.

“A big jar of pickled pig feet, Southern

style and cooked just right.”

—Darryl Alexander, head doorman

at Park Shore Condominiums, 195 N.

Harbor Dr.

“Somebody bought me a car! 2005

Ford Explorer, only slightly used.”

—Floyd Daniels, employee for six years at

the Chandler, 450 E. Waterside Dr.

“$200 cash—the best kind of gift.”

—Andre Johnson, employee for 24 years

at Harbor Point, 155 N. Harbor Dr.

“Someone bought me a gallon of Jack

Daniels–took me a whole year to finish

it.”

—Charles Mosley, employee for seven

years at the 400 E. Randolph building.

“I received a vacation to the Dominican Republic.

All expenses paid. Hard to beat that!”

—James Hatter, employee for 10 years at

Shoreham, 400 E. South Water St.

“One of the kids brought me a cupcake.

She made it herself. I loved that

it was a gift given straight from the heart.”

—Tawny Gray, employee for two years

at the 340 At The Park building, 340 E.

Randolph St.

So, there you go. No pressure. You don’t have to buy a car or give someone a vacation to show your appreciation. Just a little originality and a small piece of your heart will do just fine.

Live holiday entertainment warms New Eastside

By Gianna Annunzio | Staff Writer and Ben Kowalski | Copy Editor

November 16, 2017

New Eastsiders searching for live entertainment this holiday season may find just what they’re looking for, without going too far from home. Options range from jazz music to improv comedy and include high-quality offerings at hotels.

November marks the first anniversary of Winter’s Jazz Club, 465 McClurg Ct., where cartoon classics come to life.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will be performed a day before Thanksgiving on November 22. Additionally, A Charlie Brown Christmas will be performed on December 5 and 14. Winter’s owner Scott Stegman said the Charlie Brown Christmas show, for audiences aged 12 and above, was so popular last year that the club decided to add a second performance this year. “We recreate the exact [soundtrack] album with a three-person choir, so it’s really a charming little evening,” Stegman said.

Local hotels are also a convenient and high-quality option. This season, enjoy Latin

(Top) Winter’s Jazz Club. Photo courtesy Winter’s Jazz Club

Rhythms and pop grooves with acoustic artist Joey Edwin. This November, Edwin, whose musical career includes performances on MTV and at the House of Blues, showcases his talent at THE BAR in Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park hotel, 200 N. Columbus Dr.

Colleen Sweitzer, the Fairmont Chicago’s marketing manager, said Edwin’s music has a great rhythm, but isn’t overpowering. “He’s the perfect mix of great background music that you can also sit and enjoy it like it’s the center of your attention,” she said. “For those who are looking for something a little different, he’s great.”

While Winter’s Jazz Club and the Fairmont Chicago hotel combine live music in a comfortable atmosphere, Second City’s Up Comedy Club, 230 W. North Ave., pairs improv comedy with theater and audience participation.

Joe Ruffner, producer of Second City’s touring company, said the holiday show, titled Holidazed & Confused: Mandatory Merriment, is an annual production.

“It’s a fresh take on the holidays,” he said. “Parental advisory is recommended—it’s not your kid’s holiday show.”

Laughs can also be had closer to home at Seven Bar & Restaurant, 400 E. Randolph St., where Chicago’s best local comedians have been rounded up with Backyard Besties performing varying acts on the third Friday of every month.

Maya Epstein, a New Eastside local, helps produce another comedy show at Seven titled “Bad People, Good Comedy.” Erica Nicole Clark of Comedy Central will headline their next show on November 3, alongside comedians St. James Jackson, Chris Higgins, Tessa Orzech and Sabeen Sadiq.

“We get a mix of people from the building, comedy lovers and Lakeshore East neighbors,” Epstein said. “Entertainment options are few and far between. Seven is great because it’s this unexpected bar in the middle of a condo building. You’d never know it was there, which makes for a fun surprise for the people who come to our shows. It’s pretty amazing to see such a great line-up in an intimate space.”

Seven’s owner Mohammed Rafiq said attendees enjoy the performances Seven puts on, because there is no other club like it in the area. “We get a very good turn out with the show. If you’ve ever come to a show of ours, it’s very well produced and very overdone,” he said. “We have lights, music, a very good sound system, and very good microphones.”

If New Eastsiders are searching for a solid meal with nightly jazz performances, Bandera restaurant and bar on 535 N. Michigan Avenue is the location they’ve been waiting for. Offering American cuisine with a southwestern flair, Bandera provides great views of Michigan Ave. and live music every night from 6–11 p.m. Rebecca Schwartz, Bandera’s general manager, said nightly jazz performances have always been part of the restaurant’s feng shui. “We have three different trios that rotate each day of the week,” she said.“The Dave Williams Trio, the Paul Martin trio and the Jo Ann Daugherty Trio.”

Musical-enthusiasts young and old can also enjoy the Chicago Cultural Center’s (78 E. Washington) performance of The Nutcracker while participating in their free holiday event, “Dance-Along Nutcracker” on December 3.

Ballet Chicago performers at the 2015 Dance-Along Nutcraker performance.Photo by Elizabeth Johnston.

Members of Ballet Chicago will teach basic movements at an optional lesson at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Then, at noon and 3 p.m., participants are invited to join the dancers of Ballet Chicago for a Nutcracker performance. The Lakeside Pride Music Ensemble will also perform live music.

Mary May, the Cultural Center’s special events coordinator, calls Dance-Along Nutcracker a “darling event.” “Kids from all ages dress up and get to be a Sugarplum Fairy or a Mouse King for the day,” she said. “It’s all levels of dancing as well. What’s more ‘holiday’ than Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic?