The day has finally come.
With the chaotic year of 2020 coming to a close, this New Years’ Eve is one of the most poignant we’ve had in decades. Yet, in typical 2020 fashion, this year we are prevented from gathering together to collectively say good riddance to 2020 and welcome in 2021 with open arms. Covid-19 mitigation measures including capacity limits, business curfews, and liquor sale restrictions mean that there are none of the usual hotel soirées or firework fiestas, and very few New Year’s parties of any kind.
Instead, we have to make sure we enjoy the last day of the year in style, celebrating it within the hours that we are allowed to and saving the evening for virtual events or close-quarters activities. Here are several activities to do on the last day of 2020 so you can celebrate the end of this year with some memorable and magical moments among friends.
There’s no better way to say goodbye to 2020 than with some winter skating and here in Chicago, we have some phenomenal ice rinks. The ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park is one of Chicago’s best winter-time activities. Experience “alpine in the city” skating down a quarter-mile rink in the heart of Chicago. The winding ribbon of ice curves up and down around a 40-foot climbing wall with the city’s stunning skyline in the backdrop. It’s a must for your winter bucket list.
Rosemont’s Chicago Wolves Ice Rink in Parkway Bank Park entertainment district offers another magical skating experience on a climate-controlled NHL-sized rink. Swirl and soar under the millions of twinkling lights that illuminate the sublime open-air rink during the winter and enjoy a day out in the sensational suburb. The best part? Mention you have your own skates when making an online reservation and it’s absolutely free while renting a pair will cost only €8.
There are so many brilliant light shows in and around Chicago and luckily this year nearly all of them went ahead with only minor adaptions. Having started up in late November or December, many of them are running through January and one of the most magical times to experience them is of course, on the last day of the year. Chicago Botanic Garden’s Lightscape is in its second season after a complete sell-out in its debut season. Morton Arboretum’s immersive Illumination: Tree Lights is another light show to keep your eyes on while you’re guaranteed a memorable day out at Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual Zoo Lights. All three will finish on Sunday, January 3, 2021, so it’s the last chance to see them before they pack up for another year.
With the mitigation measures and restrictions that clamped down on social gatherings in Chicago, the hospitality industry was forced to respond by winterizing any outdoor dining space that was available. What followed was an influx of igloos and domes all over Chicago. There is nothing more magical than snuggling up with those closest to you in a snowglobe of your own and seeing out 2020 with a cocktail in hand. Whether it’s Godfrey Hotel’s River North rooftop igloos, Woodlawn’s trendy rooftop igloo, or one of the many igloos in West Loop’s Fulton Market, all are thoroughly cleaned before and after use, providing a safe and sensational way to enjoy some food and drinks among loved ones.
If your friends aren’t the sort to sit still and thrive on a bit of competition curling and cocktails could be the answer. Chicago’s second favorite ice sport has cropped up around the city providing a wonderful winter activity and potentially a perfect event for your new year’s eve. Michigan Avenue’s the Gwen Hotel offers 45-minute curling sessions and complimentary cocktails for $30 per person on its stunning rooftop. Wicker Park’s Whiskey Business is another fantastic place to finetune your finesse while drinking with your friends. There’s even a new curling rink down at Chicago Yacht Club where Monroe Street meets Lake Michigan.
If you’re looking for some drinks on new year’s eve despite the restrictions that prevent us from socializing late into the night, there are many more options than just igloos. Though it was igloos that received all of the attention when Chicago first started winterizing its outdoor spaces, other stunning solutions have emerged since the ban on indoor dining was implemented.The Darling’s Rose Garden and Uvae Wine Bar both have an array of the cutest little greenhouses offer a cute alternative while firepits in the patios of Recess and District Brew Yards provide toasty spaces to drink a few iconic beers with your friends or family.