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2011: A Year in Review at Navy Pier

December 27, 2011

This past year brought many changes at Navy pier; Neighborhoods of the World debuted, the Landshark Beer Garden  and Margaritaville opened their doors to visitors, and Navy Pier became a non-profit organization. Some of these changes were more apparent than others, and we’d like to take a look back at this amazing year, 2011!

As 2011 comes to a close, many of us enjoy taking a look back at the past year and reflecting on all that has happened. There are ‘Best Of’ lists and ‘Worst Of’ lists, but we at Navy Pier believe that each of our unique and amazing fans has their own idea of what constitutes the best and worst of anything and instead of following the trend, we would simply like to recall the year 2011 at Navy Pier. So here goes:

Neighborhoods of the World

2011 was the inaugural year for Neighborhoods of the World at Navy Pier! Navy Pier was proud to honor Chicago’s ethnic neighborhoods and cultural diversity with this weekly performance series. Join us in the Crystal Gardens again this year, every Sunday, for an afternoon of live music, dance, colorful costumes, authentic cuisine, folk art and more.

Landshark Beer Garden

Let the Fin Begin Chicago! LandShark Beer Garden at Navy Pier opened its doors to visitors this summer. The Landshark Beer Garden, on the East End of Navy Pier, is open to all ages and is a great place to unwind and enjoy Chicago’s lakefront. Residents and visitors alike will enjoy the outdoor atmosphere surrounded by the unique personality of Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline!


The Midwest’s first Margaritaville restaurant brought a new dining and entertainment experience to Navy Pier! The Island experience came to the Midwest as Navy Pier added Margaritaville to its exciting array of restaurant offerings. Visitors don’t have to travel any further than Navy Pier to be transported to the tropics. It’s more than a dining destination; it’s an entire change in latitude (and a change in attitude!)

Pier Walk

For the first time in 5 years, Navy Pier’s Pier Walk returned! You could walk around Navy Pier and take in some outstanding pieces of art – all for free! Navy Pier Walk 2011, was a public art showcase in Gateway Park and along Dock Street!


Always a crowd and visitor favorite, Navy Pier produced 40 fireworks shows in 2011! Some of which included  special Celebrity playlist, and others during the holidays and after the Magnificent Mile Light’s Festival! Look for more fireworks on New Year’s Eve at 8:15 p.m. and midnight!

Ferris Wheel

The famous Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier was ridden by Just over 785,000 in 2011!  That is the second highest annual total since 2000 and is all thanks to the amazing guests who braved the heights!

A Taste of Tall Ships at Navy Pier

We all remember the event that brings a bit of the Caribbean to Chicago, right? We’ve referring to “Tall Ships” at Navy Pier, of course! Those warm summer days when nothing else mattered except for walking the plank and shivering some timbers! We joke of course, what did matter was being with your loved one and enjoying the sights on Lake Michigan!

Fireworks at Navy Pier

And talk about sights on Lake Michigan, who remembers watching fireworks this summer and fall at Navy Pier? We do! Can you still feel the warm summer breeze? Can you see your friends or loved ones there staring off into the darkness of night as the sky was magically illuminated with each burst of colorful fire! The ooh’s and aah’s were plentiful! Summer, we miss you!

Germany’s Best and Oktoberfest at Navy Pier

Oktoberfest and fall were here before we knew it… but what better way to celebrate the changing seasons than with the 1st Annual Germany’s Best and Oktoberfest at Navy Pier! With German culture and businesses being highlighted along with traditional Oktoberfest festivities, Navy Pier welcomed the addition of this marvelous event!

Really Big Halloween Party at Navy Pier

As the air turned a little cooler, it was time for the Really Big Halloween Party at Navy Pier! The ghosts, goblins and characters of varying height and fright took over the pier during the not-so-scary but loads of fun Really Big Halloween Party!

Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier

As December began, so did the wonderful Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier! Offering a glimpse at what the world would be like if kids were in charge and a chance for that kid in each of us to escape and indulge in the magnificent expanse that imagination offers! Ah, to be young again! Everything from rides and games to ice skating and meeting Santa! The holidays truly are a magical time of year, especially at Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier!

New Year’s Eve at Navy Pier

And that brings us to now, New Year’s Eve, and the final hours of 2011. What a year it has been, and we want to thank all visitors who came to Navy Pier! You are the reason that this is all here and we want you to enjoy it fully. Be sure to check out the fireworks this year at 8:15 p.m. and Midnight!

If you still haven’t decided how to spend those last few hours of 2011, be sure to check out all of the options available at Navy Pier including cruises, parties and more! Follow link for more info: /things2do/entertainment/nye.html


Thanks again for everything Navy-Pierians! Happy New Year from everyone here at Navy Pier!


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