New Year’s Eve in Chicago on a Budget

Sample sushi or enjoy other fun New Year's Eve events that won't break the bank!

In an effort to ease you in to 2012, we’ve highlighted some fun and unusual New Year’s Eve events happening in Chicago that, at $10 to $50 per person, won’t break the bank! Choose from a sushi buffet in Lakeview; a hilarious theatrical event in Andersonville; an evening with a Blues band in the South Loop; an avant-garde burlesque show in Wicker Park; Bavarian beer and riotous polka in Lincoln Square; or a sure-to-make-you-boogie evening of soul music.  

Have a New Year’s Laugh at Too Much Light (Andersonville): The hyperactive and wildly creative actors and improvisers known as the Neo-Futurists have been performing “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” each and every weekend since 1988, often to sold out audiences. The show, which invites audiences to shout out a number corresponding to one of 30 plays the company attempts to squeeze into a 60 minute time slot, attracts an all ages audience and is often full of bawdy humor. A special New Year’s Eve show starts with appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages at 9:30pm; the show itself starts at 11pm with a pizza party and champagne toast at midnight. Tickets are $50.

Boogie Down to JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound at Schubas (Lakeview): Dance all night at Schuba’s, an intimate Chicago music venue, to the soul and R&B stylings of up-and-coming local artists JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. Catch them on December 30th or on New Year’s Eve for just $25, or get a discounted 2-night pass.

Go Back to the Future at the Metropolis Ball (Wicker Park): Fill your New Year’s Eve with a little hotcha and wowee at a night of burlesque and avant-garde performance art. The Metropolis Ball transforms Wicker Park’s Flat Iron building into a futuristic nightclub inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film Metropolis. Starting at 8pm and running till 5am, you may come out in the early hours of 2012 wondering if you’ve time traveled back or forward in time. But don’t worry, you’re still in Chicago.  Tickets are $30 in advance, or $35 at the door, with pricier VIP packages available.

Start a New Tradition at Chen’s (Wrigleyville): Some people eat black-eyed peas to bring themselves luck in the New Year; others nibble on grapes, lucky greens, or even sauerkraut! Start a new New Year’s tradition by feasting on sushi and Chinese food at Chen’s Chinese, Sushi, and Thai. Their New Year’s Eve celebration includes a sushi and Chinese buffet, an open bar from 10:30am-1:30am, and a champagne toast at midnight. Tickets are $45. Get more information on their Facebook page and contact them to reserve your spot.

Break Out Your Leiderhosen for New Year’s Eve at DANK-Haus (Lincoln Square): Lincoln Square’s German Cultural Center, the DANK-Haus hosts the hipster-friendly Polkaholics once again this year from 8pm-2am. Dance until you drop, and enjoy German beer (available by the liter!), sausages, champagne and more. At some point in the night, a sugar cone soaked in rum will be lit on fire and fortunes will be fortold in a demonstration of German New Year’s traditions. Admission is $10 in advance, or $15 at the door. Food and drink cost extra.

Have a Big Party with Lil Ed at Buddy Guy’s Legends (South Loop): Blues group Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials will set your feet to dancing at Buddy Guy’s Legends. Tickets will set you back $25 and the price of admission to the show includes a champagne toast at midnight. Music runs from 9pm until after midnight. Grab some great, affordable Creole comfort food at Buddy Guy’s Legends beforehand.