One of the best things about living in is enjoying that small town feel while at the same time knowing that it's a city large enough to have something to appeal to everyone. No time is that more true than around the holidays. When Naperville throws itself a party, it throws a serious party: our fair city offers activities and events this New Year's Eve for children, families and teens; for serious foodies and pizza lovers; for those looking to enjoy a night of sophisticated jazz or those who want to dance until the wee hours as DJs spin records.
Our guide to Naperville's 10 biggest New Year's Eve events should get you where you want to go, wherever that is.
New Year's Eve day starts off at 9 a.m. sharp at the DuPage Children's Museum 2011 Bubble Bash. All three floors of the museum are tansformed into a paradise of children's partying for this reservations only event. The party features kid favorite rock and roll band The Boogers, refreshments, arts and crafts activities, and, as the name of the event implies, a good deal of bubbles. Tickets are $20 per person for members, $25 for non-members.
The biggest New Year's Eve event around this year takes place in downtown Naperville itself. Starting at noon on the last day of the year, this family friendly event for kids and parents features a wide range of activities and free entertainment, from face painters, caricature artists, harpers and magicians to sledding (if there's snow), hot chocolate and scavenger hunts. Throughout the event, many of the stores downtown offer special deals, like buy one get one free offers and prices from 10 percent to 50 percent off. If that weren't enough, 50 attendees chosen at random will receive $50 gift cards good at participating downtown shops. The fun continues until 5 p.m. After that, the fun relocates to the for a 6 p.m. countdown to 2012. It's all the fun of ringing in the New year without staying up for it.
Have something different in mind for your family New Years Eve outing this year? The Comedy Shrine offers kid, young adult and late night adult comedy all day long. Kids 6-16 years old and adults can enjoy two shows early on in the day, starting with the Running With Scissors show at 4:30 p.m. and The Bar Show at 6:30 p.m. At 8 p.m., kids 16 and older as well as adults can enjoy a Whose Line Is It Anyway improv show. Later, at 10:15 p.m., the Comedy Shrine offers a show for adults 21 and over that ends in a champagne toast at midnight. Prices and drink minimums vary, see their website or call for details.
The amazing chefs at the Sugar Toad restaurant at the Hotel Arista have several options in store for New Years Eve. The award winning eatery serves up two seatings on the 31st. The first is a six course, $90 per person seating from 5-7:30 p.m., centered around a lamb dish with sumac, chestnut and goat's milk. The second seating is from 8:30 to 10 p.m., and features eight courses at $105 per person. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
If you're looking for a more casual but no less culinary experience, the City GateGrille right next door. The comfortable Italian steak house features a wide array of hearty, traditional dishes as well as a good selection of wine, beer and cocktails. The staff here are open and friendly: on slow nights at the bar, befriending the bartender can pay off in the form of a a complimetary glass of ouzo. New Years Eve features the musical stylings of the New Image Band playing a mix of Motown, Jazz, Funk and dance. Call to inquire about reservations.
For familes looking for quality Italian dining without the expense of a high end restaurant like Sugar Toad or the City Gate Grille, Lou Malnati's offers the perfect casual alternative. The regional pizza favorite is making sure that hungry partygoers get a chance at their famous pies on New Years Eve by offering special seatings throughout the day. The staff advises that those interested in the 3 p.m. or 6 p.m. seating best get a jump on reservations, as they're filling up quickly, but say that there will be a general seating area available as well, though it'll most likely have a wait.
If a day of dining is less your thing than a night of dancing, Esteban's has the event for you. Those looking to push away from the table and get on their feet will be more than happy here as the staff rings in 2012 with a night of red hot salsa music and dancing. Esteban's NYE event features four hours of premium open bar from 8 p.m. to midnight, two hours of dining, and several live bands. Best of all, partygoers here can dance the night away well into 2012: Esteban's will be open til 3 a.m. The price is $40 per person, and reservations are strongly recommended.
Those looking to make the scene of New Year's Eve can head to downtown's lofty, loungey nightspot Two Nine. Located above Potters Mexican restaurant, Two Nine offers a hip space with exposed brick, dim lighting, cushy, stylish furniture and loud dance music. The bar also mixes a mean martini. This NYE, Two Nine throws a party featuring an appetizer bar, live DJ, party favors and a champagne toast. The doors will be open til 2 a.m. and tickets are $20 per person presale or $25 at the door.
This younger skewing dance club throws the biggest party of the year for teens (or those who simply miss their teens). The club caters to those ageed 16 to 25, and this year, Zero Gravity goes all out and throws another legendary New Year's Eve bash. The club features three rooms of music with ten different DJs, as well as a giveaway of over $2012 in cash and prizes and a 2,012 balloon drop at midnight. This years theme is 'Blacklight Edition,' so expect the action to take on an otherworldly glow all night long. Ticket prices include a free food buffet and party favors like noisemakers, hats and horns. VIP tickets are available as well, and offer extra perks like the opportunity to arrive at the club in a limo. Prices start at $33 per person.
Those who have safely escaped their teens (and never want to return) might find their crowd at LIT Nightclub. The sharp, darkly lit club, with it's purple ambient lighting, VIP areas, and high end design furniture appeals to those who appreciate a finer club. This New Year's Eve, Lit offers up an array of Djs, like the locally famous Julian Jumpin' Perez spinning top 40 hits, house and video mixes. The price for the night includes a four hour premium open bar, complimentary appetizers and hor d'oeuvres and discounts on other services. Prices start at $75 per person.