One of the largest cities in the United States, Chicago is a lakeside metropolis famous for its bold architecture and world-renowned museums. It also features many public art—such as the Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean”.
Many of the nation's best museums, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago and the WNDR Museum, also call the Windy City their home. The Chicago climate is moderate, with cold winters and mild summers, but not to worry because the Chicago skyline will give you wonderful views no matter the time of year.
With its skyscrapers, accessible art museums, conference centers, parks and other attractions, it's no surprise that Chicago has many incredible options for event venues. From the urban spots in the heart of Chicago to the artsy, bohemian stomping grounds in the West Town, there’s an event space perfect for any occasion!
Party Options in Chicago
While party planning can be fun, sorting out the details can be time-consuming and stressful. No worries! Chicago abounds with party service professionals who can help.
With hours of dancing and singing, having great food is so important! Caterers in Chicago offer different cuisines and one-of-a-kind menus. Whether you're planning a small private dining night with a few guests, a large private party with hundreds of people, or you just need a reliable caterer for executive board meetings, there's a professional company in Chicago that can ensure everyone is satisfied.
Bands and DJs
Good music is often synonymous with a good party, and Chicago is the city that won’t let you down. There are cover bands offering their take on popular songs (perfect for wedding receptions and birthday parties!) and there are also bands that play blues, jazz, and rock for those with different tastes. Scout around downtown Chicago on a Friday night to discover hidden talent who can serenade you at your next event!
Finding a perfect party venue is hard enough, but decorating hundreds of square feet can be equally challenging! Make your birthday party or wedding reception more fun with gorgeous balloon arches or flowers cascading down floor-to-ceiling windows. Your corporate events can even be gussied up with elegant backdrops and tablecloths. Artistic talent runs deep in every Chicago neighborhood, so you're sure to find an expert decorator for your party!
Whether it’s to add a romantic touch to your wedding venue, or you want to liven up the club you’ve chosen for a huge birthday party, having the right lighting in your event spaces will definitely help. Lovely string lights, gobo lights with their moving shapes, black light that will make you shine in the dark, or dance lights flashing around – you can find anything you want to create the unique event vibe in Chi-Town.
If you decide to mix it up a little and throw a costume party instead of a regular one, you’re all covered – Chicago offers a number of stores specializing in different kinds of costumes for all types of special events, from Halloween to the theme of your choice. One such store is Fantasy Costumes, which has been in business for over fifty years. Find amazing costumes and accessories to transform yourself for your upcoming event!
Party Companies in Chicago
Ready for your party in Chicago? Event venues are top on any prep list, but you might need some extra help from a party and private event planner. They can help organize your party, set up your event spaces, and iron out every detail so you can relax and focus on hitting that dance floor!
Affairs with Linda
Affairs with Linda organizes social and corporate events and parties. They can help cover everything from finding event venues and transportation, to organizing the ceremony and the reception. They have experience organizing both cozy intimate gatherings and larger events such as galas or wedding receptions.
Liven It Up Events
Whether you’re throwing birthday parties, holiday parties, parties for wedding anniversaries, or even art shows, Liven It Up Events will help you bring your vision to life. They will help you develop a theme for your event, find the ideal location, and execute it from start to finish!
A Perfect Event
A Perfect Event is an award-winning event planning and design firm with years of experience in executing social gatherings. They've done everything from birthday celebrations and baby showers, to wedding ceremonies, cocktail parties, and even industry-wide corporate events. They can help you find the best Chicago event venues, take care of the decorations, catering menus, and event coverage!
Pros and Cons of Throwing a Party in Chicago
Finding an excuse to party is easy enough, but a good party planner has to know their chosen location well!
Get to know the pros and cons of organizing a party in Chicago before you decide.
- Lake Michigan
Chicago’s location right on the vast Lake Michigan offers a great opportunity for throwing an unforgettable beach party during the warmer months.
- Great venues
Chicago has venues that will cater to anyone’s taste. Fancy a garden party at Lincoln Park, a sophisticated cocktail party in a historic hotel lobby with floor-to-ceiling windows, or maybe a groovy music night in a jazz club off South Loop? With so many event spaces available, you'll definitely find the perfect location for all your private events!
The best thing about Chicago: event venues and event-related services are plentiful! Whether you need a party planner, a chef for an evening of private dining, or a facilitator for a corporate gathering, you’ll find many professionals that can help you execute any type of event.
Unfortunately, even the Windy City isn’t immune to traffic jams. Make sure to plan your routes ahead if you’re transferring from one event venue to another to ensure you minimize any delays.
- The weather
While summer is warm and pleasant, Chicago winters can be freezing. Luckily, many event spaces are usually indoors, which make them the perfect venue for parties, sun or snow!
- The price
Typical of a big city, some private event spaces in Chicago can be more expensive than others—think of the Gold Coast or event halls in Hyde Park. Party planners should ask about an event venue’s packages and discounts to get the best deal.
Famous Party Locations in Chicago
Situated in a renovated historic building in Chicago’s West Loop, this large space has the power of transformation. You can change its original industrial design into a wedding venue, a space for film and photo production, a distinguished corporate event, or a neon-light party for a truly unique event!
Another amazing party venue in Chicago, Park West has a century-long tradition. It serves as a concert venue, but it can also be rented for parties, formal galas, or turned into a big conference center for a corporate event.
Say "yacht party" and watch your guest list blow up! Adeline's Sea Moose is a yacht docked in Burnham Harbor that can serve as an event venue for romantic dinners, a fun twist for bridal showers, or a beautiful venue for intimate wedding receptions, this definitely one of the more special event spaces that only Chicago can offer!
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By Emma Madden
Famous party venues from Chicago history
Nearly two centuries ago, on March 4, 1837, Chicago was incorporated. Yet even in its relatively short history, the White City has played host to iconic supper clubs, jazz nights, balls, and overall budget-busting shenanigans.
Most of Chicago's epochal parties hail back to the Gilded Age, when socialites frequented private, swanky clubs that played host to all kinds of decadent and debonair scenes. Remnants of that time still remain, even if the venues have since gone through several transformations. No matter the change, the stories from those heady nights have been recirculating for decades, and there's no doubt those legendary tales will keep being passed down for years to come.
Undeniably, the city's nightlife has played a pivotal role in shaping Chicago into the storied and bustling hub that is today, turning it into the sophisticated metropolis that it's become. To celebrate some of the very best nights out in history, Giggster has spotlighted five iconic party venues—and the shindigs that made them famous—in the Windy City.
The Biggs Mansion
Chicago's historic Biggs Mansion was originally home to the high-flying John DeKoven, a banker who commissioned the eminent architect Edward Burling to design the structure. Burling decked out the mansion in tiered chandeliers and Italian fireplaces—a decadent setting for the extravagant parties DeKoven would host in his home, the likes of which made the city's society pages for decades to come.
Today, the property largely functions as a cigar aficionado's haven. After a renovation project spanning two years that spared no costs and cut no corners, the Biggs Mansion was reopened to the public in September 2014. It now maintains the property's legacy as one of the very finest cigar emporiums, lounges, and member's clubs in Chicago. Fred Latsko, the venue's current owner, poured several million dollars into the restoration project—and it shows. While the building was left in a somewhat sorry state prior to the 2010s, Latsko managed to return Biggs Mansion to its former glory.
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Right at the tail end of the 19th century, Chicago elected two aldermen to serve each ward: John "Bathhouse" Coughlin and Michael "Hinky Dink" Kenna (his small stature earned him that nickname). Their First Ward Ball developed an infamous reputation in the papers for being riotous and obscene, so much that the 7th Regiment Armony banned the pair from hosting the party there again.
The event nevertheless grew an even bigger crowd at the Chicago Coliseum—where circus acts and horse shows were among the biggest events in its early years—and lasted from 1896 until 1908, when prohibition laws spoiled the party. The annual political fundraiser developed an infamously lewd reputation across its two-decade existence, with parties attended by everyone from society thrill-seekers and noblemen to policemen and politicians. Even the waitresses are said to have paid $5 to attend (mostly on account of the tips they'd make).
The drink-guzzling was so legendary that, as soon as invites were issued, merchants began offering discount prices to the party's organizers, knowing they'd make more money than they knew what to do with. In the First Ward Ball's final year, around 20,000 guests drank in excess of 10,000 quarts of champagne and 35,000 quarts of beer, making it a solid candidate for one of the booziest nights in Chicago's history.
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Named after the 1920s neo-classical building it occupied, Michigan Avenue's London House encompassed a pair of nightclubs that were founded by brothers George and Oscar Marienthal in the mid-'40s. Toward the end of the decade, London House had become famed for its supper clubs. For a time, it was considered one of the most exquisite eateries in the city, a reputation it earned in part by its ties to the popular Fort Dearborn Grill. In the following decade, the venue became one of the country's foremost jazz venues and welcomed the likes of Dave Brubeck, Erroll Garner, and Frank Sinatra Jr. to its stage.
The history of Chicago jazz wouldn't have been the same without London House. However, in the 1970s, alongside the decline of jazz and the rise of rock 'n' roll, London House transitioned into none other than a Burger King. The suburbanization that overtook the city that decade had certainly dampened the party spirits, though it's since been somewhat revived. Today, the building serves as a high-end hotel that has been welcoming guests since 2016.
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The Gaslight Club
If you truly wanted a glimpse into Hugh Hefner's world, you'd sooner enter The Gaslight Club than the Playboy Mansion. The original bachelor's paradise, The Gaslight Club is said to have inspired Hefner's vision for Playboy, what with its va-va-voom girls and atmosphere. A throwback to the decadence of the early 1900s, The Gaslight Club opened in 1953 as an updated form of a speakeasy, handing out exquisite cocktails to its tens of thousands of guests each year.
Dixieland jazz was the venue's specialty, and the genre's contagious fun soon spread throughout the city, though it was sadly short-lived: The glamorous club closed its doors in the 1980s. However, a watering hole bearing the club's name is now in operation at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport in tribute to the glittering venue.
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The Tavern Club
Situated on North Michigan Avenue, the Tavern Club has served up shots to some of Chicago's most revered city-dwellers. The 1960s were the club's heyday, when it played host to the likes of Carl Sandburg, Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as Mayor Daley. A vital component of Chicago's high-flying social life, the club boasted some of the city's finest wines and food, which were enjoyed alongside a panoramic view of Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan, as well as an ice-skating rink that once sat on the terrace of the 26th floor.
Sadly, the club closed shop after losing its lease in 2007. However, it was revived in the 2010s as part of a $60 million renovation and now serves as a luxury social space and tavern with capacity for 125 guests.