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.
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.
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.