Credit: Christopher Bijalba courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo

Trying to make last-minute plans? Here are a few ideas for celebrating New Year’s Eve and beyond this weekend.

Note: in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that you call or email ahead for confirmation for any in-person gatherings. Venues may also have their own restrictions in light of COVID-19 that you’ll need to adhere to, so be prepared to wear a mask or show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. 

Drag, DJs, champagne, and more:

Put down the knitting, the book, and the broom, it’s time for a holiday. Life is cabaret, ol’ chum–and Berlin (954 W. Belmont) is here to slay. Starting at 9 PM, Miss Toto and friends Irregular Girl, Jo Mama, and Luv Ami will help you send off 2021 in style until 4 AM, with beats provided by DJ Greg Haus and DJ Stasney. Life is a cabaret, ol’ chum, come to the cabaret. $10 before 11 PM, $15 before midnight, $20 after midnight, 21+, RSVP at Berlin’s website.

Reflection is an all-building party encompassing Metro and Smart Bar (3730 N. Clark). On the Metro side, catch DJs Michael Serafini and Garrett David (often found at popular Smart Bar night Queen!) with DJ Heather. On the Smart Bar side, spin into the new year with Ariel Zetina, Harry Cross, Jeff Derringer, Justin Aulis Long, Phillip Stone, Shaun J. Wright, and Sevron. Resident hosts Lucy Stoole, Nico, and JoJo Baby will be joined by guest hosts Valentine Addams and Sheeza Woman. Things kick off at 9 PM, but you’ll want to wear your comfiest dancing shoes because it’ll be a long night! Tickets to this 21+ event are $49-$249 and still available.

Looking for a more intimate vibe? Ring in the New Year with DJ Zzzosma at Cole’s (2338 N. Milwaukee). This limited capacity party goes from 9 PM-2 AM, and tickets are $5 at the door. You’ll need proof of vaccination to enter and you must be 21 or older.

No cell phones allowed at Subterranean’s (2011 W. North) Social Experience New Year’s Eve Party! This event is designed to get you mixing and mingling to hopefully meet someone special. DJ Swerve will shuffle between hip-hop, R&B, house, and juke music throughout the night, and “power songs” will be played where the music is lowered to make conversation easier. Pens and paper will be provided so you can take down some phone numbers (or maybe pass notes to cuties?!). Tickets ($5 women, $10 men) include a champagne toast, and are available here. The event starts at 9:30 PM, and there will be giveaways after 12:30 AM. 21+.

Put some social distance in your holiday with Zoo Year’s Eve at Lincoln Park Zoo (2001 N. Clark). This indoor/outdoor event is open for adults 21 and older only, and is perfect for anyone craving something festive without too much crowding. While there are plenty of chances to warm up in the animal areas, you can spend the entire time outside enjoying the ZooLights display as well as a DJ, some games and giveaways, and a variety of cash-only bars. The fun starts at 9 PM, and tickets ($30-$40) are available here

Too exhausted to even put on clothes? We get it–and so does Meeting House Tavern (5025 N. Clark). That’s why they’re throwing a New Year’s Eve pajama party. Lose track of time playing board games, Super Smash Brothers, darts, Skee-ball, and more. There will be $7 Big Miller Lite drafts all day and happy hour drink specials from 5-8 PM. There’s no cover for this 21+ party, so tip extra large!

Let your mind drift to the optimistic sounds of city pop, the forgotten 70s and 80s Japanese music that Van Paugam helped reinvigorate. Starting at 10 PM, he’ll be DJing at Murasaki Sake Lounge (211 E. Ontario). You can also expect live music by Mika Bridgebook. Silver tickets ($25) guarantee entry and a champagne toast at midnight, while gold tickets ($75) guarantee entry, three Japanese New Year-inspired chef’s special tasting plates, and two drink tickets. Reservations are requested for this 21+ event; email or call (312) 266-2280 to do so.

Concerts, comedians, and online fare:

Reader Associate Editor Jamie Ludwig points you to Chicago rockers Touched By Ghoul, anchoring a New Year’s Eve bash at Liar’s Club (1665 W. Fullerton). Bands Lollygagger, Heet Deth, and Ladrone open, starting at 9 PM. Advance tickets to this 21+ show are $21.50 (available at the Liar’s Club website) and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test (taken up to 72 hours prior to time of show) will be required for entry. 

Contributor Monica Kendrick thinks you should hold out until Saturday and start off the year with a concert by California power trio Stöner (featuring Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri), who will be joined by local bands Purepilot, Cloud Cruiser, and Ricky Liontones. This stoner rock-heavy show starts at 9 PM at Reggies Rock Club (2109 S. State) and is open to those 17 years of age and older. Tickets are $20

Writer Matthew Sigur spoke to comedians Jason and Randy Sklar ahead of their two stand-up shows tonight at Aurora’s Comedy Shrine. The sets start at 8 PM and 10 PM, and both are open to all ages. Advance tickets are available

Windy City Soul Club promises rare soul cuts, Motown-style gems, and dance party favorites on vinyl at their New Year’s Eve party tonight at the Logan Square Auditorium (2539 N. Kedzie). Advance tickets for this 18+ party start at $25 each, and $45 will get you entry plus a limited edition print by artist CHema Skandal. The music starts at 9:30 PM. 

Old Town School offers Virtual Songs of Good Cheer, an online recorded version of their annual holiday sing-along. Purchasing access gets you a downloadable songbook and as many views of the show that you may like until January 2. 

Bluesman Toronzo Cannon kicks off the new year with the Altered Five Blues Band at City Winery on Saturday night. The 8 PM show is open to all ages, and tickets are available.

Staying in? Ring in the new year with new wave courtesy of Late Bar’s DJ Sonic Marchesa, who will start spinning at 9 PM Friday on Twitch. Tune in for free at (with donations and tips accepted via Venmo or Paypal).