Hello 2024: A Guide to Lake County New Year's Celebrations

By: Jonathan Jones 12/18/2023

The year is nearing completion and with a new one approaching, it's finally time to ring out "Auld Lang Syne" or "times long past" for anyone not proficient in Scottish linguistics.

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right,” is a quote from Oprah Winfrey. We still haven’t quite finished the holiday season, but it’s always an ongoing battle for what you and your friends decide for New Year’s Eve.

From shows to deals to just plain dancing yourself away to the radio’s top hits (and, of course, Auld Lang Syne), Lake County’s the place to be during the year-end celebration. Pop the champagne, bid farewell to 2023 and peruse this handy little guide to the land of lakes New Year's celebrations and happenings. Oh, hello 2024!

New Year's Eve Family Party at the Sullivan Center





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Ring in the new year the right way with your youngster, as "Vernon Hills Time Square" (the Sullivan Center) throws an "Auld Lang Syne." Party. The New Year's Eve's Eve Box Social features a balloon drop, eats, a live DJ, games and more.

Noon Year's Eve at the Grayslake Library (Dec. 28 and 29)

Gather your whole kiddie crew for a fun-filled afternoon of family celebration! Get crafty, bust a move on the dance floor, and join in the excitement as we count down to... noon! This early New Year's Eve bash offers the perfect way to ring in the New Year kid-friendly style. Don't forget to register everyone in your party, grownups included!

25th Annual Polar Bear Plunge at Waukegan Beach (January 1)





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Tis the season to be freezin.’ Already Lake County has been hit with a lot of snow and low mercury temps. Kick 2024 off by chilling in the 25th annual Polar Bear Plunge in Waukegan. This Waukegan Municipal Beach event awards a polar plunge shirt to the first 500 brave souls that take a dip in the drink. Water shoes or other footwear are required. Food, hot chocolate and polar bear hats will be sold on-site. If a frigid hug with Lake Michigan does not entice you, cheer your friends and family from slightly warmer shores.

Noon Year's Eve at the Deerfield Park District (December 31)

On New Year’s Eve, celebrate just a bit early with Deerfield Park District’s Noon Year’s Eve celebration. You don’t have to wait until midnight to have fun, as the countdown starts at Sachs Recreation Center in Deerfield at 10:45 a.m. Your critters will experience a DJ dance party, games and balloon drop at noon.

World of Illumination: Arctic Adventure at Six Flags Great America

A holiday celebration returns Six Flags Great America. World of Illumination, a light display that makes spirits bright experience, provides its Arctic Adventure drive-through. Your host, is none other than Beti the Yeti, your shy but amiable tour guide to the illuminating outing is in cahoots with the man in the big red suit. Families will be immersed in an astounding snowflake tunnel, synced up to your favorite holiday tunes. The light display on the whole showcases over a million lights, while your drive will be about 20-30 minute experience complemented by your radio. On select days, visitors can go through the Six Flags Great America doors to ride the dolled up Columbia Carousel. Wasselers can also enjoy the eats and drinks from the Carousel Market and marvel at the park staple's lights. 

New Year's Eve Celebration Gala at Feather Glass Wine Bar and Eatery 





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The Vernon Hills restaurant and pub lives by the credo "fine wine is our native language." Owner Purvi Damani-Patel dreamed of owning an establishment like this after traveling the Land of Lincoln and other areas tasting wine. Its menu features brunch, dinner and plates like charcuteries, salads, seafood, steaks and other international cuisines. Say farewell to 2023 as you experience a three-course meal paired with vino and cocktails, live music and a champagne toast at midnight. Feather Glass will also provide a midnight snack with the popped bubbly. 

Kringle Christmas Village in Antioch

“Oh, the weather outside may be frightful,” but the holidays in Antioch are so delightful. Besides the Dickens Holiday Village wax figure exhibit spreading holiday cheer on the downtown streets, Kringle’s Christmas Village opens this weekend. The Piggly Wiggly Plaza across town hosts the magnificently illuminated shadowboxes that showcase holiday stories. The scenes at the Kringle’s Christmas Village free of admission exhibit provides that same nostalgia you attained when enjoying downtown Chicago’s Marshall Field’s windows. Kringle’s Christmas Village and Dickens Holiday Village are open daily and run through New Year’s Day.

Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge Illinois





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“Let it snow” in Lake County for all we care, because inside Great Wolf Lodge Illinois, the temperature is a toasty 84 degrees. Book an overnight stay at the resort's event called Snowland for all the season's best like visits with Santa, shimmering décor, Snowflake Story Time, Snowland Celebration complete with magical snow, Snowland Yoga Tails, arts and crafts, dance parties, and more. And of course, there's the 80,000 square-foot indoor water park for a splashing good time!

New Year's Eve Dinner Party and Countdown at O'Toole's Libertyville, Timothy O'Toole's Gurnee and O'Toole's Lake Villa (December 31) 

You can't spell party without "O'Toole's" (no need to double check spelling on that) and this New Year's Eve is no exception. The Gurnee, Lake Villa and Libertyville locations celebrate the holiday with your choice of Champagne Split or High Life Tall Boy, Party Favors, a DJ and an irreplaceable atmosphere.

Lincolnshire Marriott Resort NYE Happenings (December 31-January 1)

Experience a NYE to remember with elegance and "rizz" as the Lincolnshire resort offers deluxe overnight accommodations and myriad New Year's packages. Continue scrolling to see what's cookin' at the resort.

New Year's Dinner - Chilean Bass at the Joyful Gourmet (December 30)

In this demonstration, chef side table event, Chef Meg will teach you how to create a delicious Carpaccio of Tenderloin Salad with Lemon, Shaved Reggiano, and Caper Berries. You will also learn to make a mouthwatering Chilean Seabass over Curry Coconut Carrot Whip with Warm Hong Kong Salad. For dessert, you will master the art of making a delectable Belgian Chocolate & Pear Tart with Apricot Glaze & Frangelico Creme Fouettee. Join this class and sip on a glass of wine while Chef Meg teaches you how to make these impressive dishes.

WhirlyBall New Years Eve (December 31) 





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Bump, collide and compete against your friends in the unique bumper car sport WhirlyBall. Everyone's favorite lacrosse/basketball/bumper car fusion game is the perfect place for New Year's Eve fun. This final day of 2023, bring your family into WhirlyBall for an afternoon of food and games! Each family receives: Three half-hour activity tickets for any combination of activities (some restrictions apply.) Two drink tickets per person (soda or juice for children, Pro Package for adults) Pro Package includes: New Amsterdam Vodka, Calypso rum, Milagro tequila, Jim Beam, Dewars, New Amsterdam gin, select rotating crafts & domestic beer, house wines & non-alcoholic beverages.

New Year's Eve at the Rink at Top Shelf Ice Arena (December 31) 

 Whatever your favorite activity is on the ice, be sure to invite friends and family to create memories on the twirl, twizzle and triple lutz on the Gurnee Mills' ice.Top Shelf's NYE party is highlighted by ice skating, a prime rib buffet, a champagne toast (for adults ages 21 and older) and a balloon drop. 

Wauconda NYE Ball Drop at The Side Lot

It's a party in Wauconda and everyone's invited. Visit The Side Lot for a blast of an occasion. Drink some libations, dance the night away and of course watch the ball drop on 2023. Hello 2024 - we hardly knew ye.

Kristof's Entertainment Center NYE (December 31)





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What's better than spending a night out with friends and family while bowling your heart out? Doing so with food and libations, of course! The entertainment center offers various packages and time slots for a full evening of fun. Celeberate New Year's with two hours of unlimted bowling (with shoe rental for up to five people per lane) a large one topping pizza and a pitcher of pop or domestic beer (for individuals 21 and older).

Santa's Rock N Lights in Grayslake (through December 31)

Before you grab drinks, get a glimpse of Santa’s Rock N Lights at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center as we journey deeper into the holiday season. The Grayslake grounds showcase a superbly illuminated show in a drive-thru format. The lights have doubled since 2019. The route is nearly a mile of 1,000 programmable and over 100,000 animated lights synced to holiday music. There are over 700 feet of tunnels and a reimagined layout with themed worlds of lights, including the dinosaur world. 

New Year's Eve Party at the Parched Pug (December 31)





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The MainStreet Libertyville eatery provides NYE ringer-inners a magical night at the dog-affinity facility. This celebration includes a dinner buffet, a comedy show featuring funny people Mike Striker, Elsie How, Tim Brennan and John McComb, "Name that Tune" trivia, late-night snack table and a champagne toast. The dinner features mac and cheese, wings, chicken and burger sliders, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, flat breasds, salads, fries and more. 

The Forester NYE Happenings (December 31-January 1) 

Ask the parents to donate their New Year's Eve to their grandchildren after a busy holiday gift-buying and party with the significant other at The Forester's Oaken Bistro. Continue below to view the Lake Forest hotel's packages.

"Eleanor's Very Merry Christmas Wish" The Musical at Citadel Theatre (Select Days from Dec. 20-31)





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Eleanor, a rag doll who lived at the North Pole, had a very merry Christmas wish: to have a best friend and a home of her own. Though Eleanor loved living with Santa, Mrs. Claus, the elves and reindeer in their magical world, she knew every toy should belong to a special boy or girl. With the help of her North Pole family, Eleanor learned that wishing alone was simply not enough to truly make her dreams come true. But Eleanor was a determined rag doll, and she wasn't about to give up on her dream. With a little perseverance and a smidgen of Christmas magic, Eleanor discovered that the greatest gift of all is the love of family and friends. The musical created by Chicagoans Denise McGowan Tracy and Kathleen Butler-Duplessis, is sure to extend your youngsters holiday spirit through the new year.

Lake County Libation Trail





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Toast to the beginning of 2024 the right way with Lake County's Libation Trail. Plenty of live tunes, obscure conversations and of course the delectable brews, wines and spirits you love to clank glasses and mugs to the new year!

"Beautiful: The Carol King Musical" at the Marriott Theatre (through Dec. 31





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This Tony Award-winning play is a living, breathing jukebox. The story follows the dynamic and genius singer/songwriter, 11-time Grammy Award-winning Carole King through her life. The show starts with her as a 16-year-old songwriter living in Brooklyn and teaming up with notable writer Gerry Goffin at Queens College. Soon, they become romantically involved, but also bust out countless hits for artists such as The Shirelles, The Drifters, Aretha Franklin, The Righteous Brothers and more. After a broken marriage with Goffin, the production follows King's rise to fame as a solo artist leading up to her renowned album "Tapestry." 

Radiance 2024 at the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center (December 30-31)

Ring in New Year’s Eve weekend with enough bass to shake the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center's foundation. Radiance New Year’s Eve hosts two nights of electronic dance music (EDM) complemented by dazzling light shows. The Grayslake festival features 15 acts including Ganja White Night, Woolio, Boogie T and more. Bass heads can select a one-night ticket or a two-day event pass, as well as VIP status. Radiance New Year’s Eve is open only to guests ages 18 and older. 

Primo's New Year's Eve "Night at the Copacabana"





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"Her name was Lola, and she was a showgirl." Visit the Gurnee eatery's The Parlor Speakeasy for a party to remember, highlighted by an open bar, champagne toast, small bites and a grand DJ. Primo Italian American Cuisine is Lake County’s dining hot spot with five-star ratings across the board. The Gurnee establishment boasts an array of Daily Herald Reader’s Choice Awards. A wine list of 100+ flavors complements the jam-packed menu. 

Lightscape at Chicago Botanic Garden (through Jan. 7)

I said, ooh, I’m blinded by the lights. No, I can’t sleep until I feel your touch,” – The Weeknd. Meander in the illuminated world of wonder and light at Chicago Bo’s Lightscape. As you enter, you walk through a cathedral-esque threshold; you enter a world of the Glencoe sanctuary that’s as luminous as ever. This is a must-experience event for your eyes and your feels. Snap your #instagood grams and/or holiday cards here! The event runs through Sunday, January 7, 2024,

New Year's Dinner Party at The Vine Martini and Wine Bar





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The Grayslake martini and wine bar creates clever libation concoctions but doesn’t skimp on the suds. The Vine offers an array of items and specializes in tapas.  The bar/restaurant also regularly features live music acts ranging over a wide variety of genres. The downtown Grayslake mainstay oozes cool vibes. Their New Year's Dinner and Party includes a five-course meal, live piano music by Malo, a champagne toast and more. The tickets cost $250 per couple (including tax and tip). If you're not drinking, make sure to contact The Vine to hear about their non-alcoholic packages. 

Dickens Holiday Village in Antioch





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“Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.” Ebenezer Scrooge and a cast of other memorable Charles Dickens characters have lined the brick and mortar in Piggly Wiggly Plaza in Antioch to offer visitors a cheerio to the holiday. This Olde English public art exhibit has around 45 lifelike mannequins displaying over 25 different storylines and acting out unique Dickens scenes. Get the “bah humbug” out of your soul with this elegant display. After Dickens’ “spirits of all three shall strive within you” at his wax figure exhibit.

"The Snow Queen at Marriott Theatre (Children's Theatre Production) (through Dec. 31)

The Snow Queen is a winter/holiday staple as the Marriott Theatre features this production. The story, originally written by Hans Christian Andersen, follows the Snow Queen as she kidnaps a young boy named Kai and takes him to her palace. Kai's best friend, Gerda, sets out on a journey to rescue him. Along the way, Gerda meets many interesting characters, including a talking crow, a reindeer and a group of robbers. Will Gerda rescue her buddy Kai before the Snow Queen freezes his heart? This version of Snow Queen is inspired by the Disney film "Frozen."

New Year's Eve at Chessie's Restaurant (December 31)

Celebrate NYE in locomotive fashion as the renowned Barrington restaurant invites visitors to celebrate the New Year. Experience delectable bites and receive a complimentary glass of bubbly. DJ Esposito will be in attendance spinning the ones and twos.

New Year's Eve "Eve" at Fatmans

Before you get into NYE shenanigans, the eve of the eve is a hoppin' one at Fatmans. The eatery, named after a portly gentlemen, is a prime spot to get a slice of pie in the northbound land of lakes. The newly-renovated and iconic Fatmans in Gurnee is the perfect mix of casual dining, innovation and excitement. Bite into a slice of pie, listen to the acoustic strums of Dave & Taro and experience Fatmans final show of 2023 before the party-party starts. 

For more ways to give 2024 salutations, continue here.

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