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5 Free Things To Do in Chicago for New Year's Eve

By Kelly Bauer | December 22, 2015 7:13am | Updated on December 22, 2015 2:48pm
 Five free things to do for New Year's Eve in Chicago.
Five free things to do for New Year's Eve in Chicago.
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CHICAGO — Spending New Year's Eve in Chicago can come cheap.

The city has all kinds of concerts, parties and events, but it's got more than a few attractions that don't cost a dime. These events will only cost whatever it takes to get there:

ZooLights and Free Gear: Check out Lincoln Park Zoo's gorgeous holiday light display to get amped up for the rest of the night. The zoo will give out free hats, horns and party favors to visitors.

ZooLights is open 4:30-9 p.m., meaning you'll have just enough time to check out the lights and get your free gear before heading to a party.


Fireworks at Navy Pier: You can walk by the lake or come in a boat and take in a fireworks show for free at Navy Pier. There's a 7 p.m. show for the early-to-bed types, but there will be more fireworks at midnight.

You can also check out a fireworks show at Buckingham Fountain, but you should be there by 10 p.m. to beat the crowds.


Ice Skating Downtown: Trying to show off your moves on the ice? Millennium Park's ice rink, on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison streets, is free and open to the public. Bring a pair of your skates or rent them for $12, but be prepared for a line.

The Maggie Daley Ice Ribbon, where skating is free but skate rentals are $12, will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

A Romantic Night in the Park: Take a tour around Millennium Park and see some of the city's most famous landmarks. You can take a midnight selfie at "Cloud Gate," aka "the Bean", or check out the Christmas tree, which is supposed to be up until the end of December.

The Lurie Garden, 201 E. Randolph St., is open until 11 p.m., so you can bring a snack, grab a bench there and have a picnic for two.


[Dave Newbart/DNAinfo]

See the Window Displays: New Year's Eve could be one of your last chances to see the holiday window displays in the Loop. Macy's on State Street has an out-of-this-world display (literally — it's called "Santa's Journey to the Stars"), but you can check out the bright lights and flashy designs of other windows. C'mon, it's tradition.

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