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Fireworks over Navy Pier  | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
Fireworks over Navy Pier | © Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar/Flickr
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The Best Places To Spend New Year's Eve In Chicago

Picture of Elizabeth Newhart
Updated: 28 November 2016
With Thanksgiving officially behind us, it’s time to nail down your New Year’s Eve plans. Chicago has every type of event available for ringing in 2017, and they’re all sure to be popular options. Whether you’re looking for a black tie party at one of the Loop’s fanciest hotels or a family-friendly event in the suburbs, there truly is something for everyone.

Family Events

Chicago joined the ranks of New York City and Los Angeles last year when they premiered their new Chi-Town Rising party, and it returns for a second round. The main event is an outdoor countdown to midnight, complete with a massive lit star ascending a Loop skyscraper. Everything starts at 8pm, and as with many New Year’s Eve parties, there will be booze, fireworks, and live performances.

The day is finally here!! We're ready for this beauty to rise! #chitownrising 🎉🌟

A photo posted by Chi-Town Rising (@chitownrising) on

Just a few blocks west is the party on the pier. Navy Pier lights up with ballroom galas, televised fireworks, and Lake Michigan cruises. Check out Winter Wonderfest, Crystal Gardens, Spirit of Chicago, and Mystic Blue. And if you’re looking for something even more low-key than fighting the downtown crowds, spend your New Year’s at Brookfield Zoo for their Zoo Year’s Eve. Their magical lights and friendly animals will make for an unforgettable New Year’s countdown with the kids.



Most major hotels in the Loop host New Year’s Eve parties in their grand ballrooms, and they end up being much of the same. Expect to pay a pretty penny for tickets, but then enjoy open bars, dinner buffets, dance floors, and hundreds of other partygoers like yourself. Look into Big Night Chicago New Year’s Eve Gala at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, the JW Marriott New Year’s Eve Soiree, and the Chicago Scene New Year’s Eve Party at The Drake Hotel.

The Palmer House | © WikiCommons

The Palmer House | © Kris/WikiCommons


Bars and Clubs

Choose a bar, or several, in which to spend your New Year’s Eve night. Realistically, every single bar in Chicago will be counting down to midnight, and you can head down to your favorite like always. Or you can branch out to an unfamiliar bar or club party to usher in new experiences for the New Year. Kick back at Howl at the Moon for live dueling pianos and flowing booze in River North. If you’re a young 20-something, Nova’s annual party has been voted the best venue for college students and recent grads. John Barleycorn is just one of several Wrigleyville spots offering food and drink packages for their all-night bash, and The Mid is a sleek clubbing option near Fulton Market.