chicago new years eve

Chicago New Year's Eve: Fireworks, Street Closures, Live Countdown

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Are you out and about in Chicago for New Year's Eve? Deciding to stay home but still want to see the fireworks?

Here are a few things to know about New Year's Eve in Chicago, including how to watch the countdown live.

Chicago Fireworks Show

A 1.5-mile-long fireworks show will explode along the city's lakefront and Chicago River at midnight on New Year's Eve, marking the city's entry into 2022.

The free fireworks display can be viewed along the Chicago River from Wolf Point near the Franklin/Orleans Street bridge to the east of Columbus Drive to Navy Pier.

The fireworks show will also air live on NBC 5's "A Very Chicago New Year" show and will be streamed live on NBCChicago.com and the NBC Chicago app. The show will also be broadcast through NBC Chicago's free apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple.

“This will be the largest fireworks display in the city’s history and one of the largest anywhere in the world,” Arena Partners CEO John Murray, who is producing the event after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, said in a statement.

The show will be choreographed to a "special music soundtrack" and will be synchronized across eight separate launch sites along the Chicago River, in Lake Michigan and near Navy Pier.

Police and Security Measures

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said residents can expect to see an increased CPD presence along the public transit system, in CTA stations and more. He urged parents not to drop children off unsupervised and warned that any criminal conduct, regardless of age, will result in an arrest.

The city also urged the public to "be aware of their surroundings and to report suspicious activity."

"If you notice something suspicious, notify onsite security or call 9-1-1," the city said in an alert.

The city noted that a new Smart911 feature is available to assist the Chicago Police Department (CPD) in better serving Chicago communities.

"Residents with an existing or new Smart911 safety profile can volunteer to share with police recorded home surveillance camara footage should a crime occur nearby or outside their residence," the city said. "By simply opting in on an existing Smart911 profile or by creating a new profile at Smart911.com, residents can agree to share home surveillance camera footage by allowing the CPD to contact them in the event of a crime. All information is private."

Street Closures

The Riverwalk will be closed early to pedestrian traffic before the fireworks.

In addition, streets and bridges in the Central Business District will close to all traffic as early as 11 p.m. Friday, with plans to reopen at 12:30 a.m. Saturday.

Here's a list of street, bridge and riverwalk closures:

  • Beginning at 4 p.m., sidewalks will close to pedestrians on one side of each of the following bridges (pedestrians will have access to the sidewalk on the remaining side of the bridge and be able to cross until the bridges are closed for the display launch between 11-11:30 p.m.):
    • Franklin/Orleans Street bridge (west sidewalk)
    • Lasalle Street bridge (east sidewalk)
    • Clark Street bridge (east sidewalk)
    • Dearborn Street bridge (west sidewalk)
    • State Street bridge (east sidewalk). 
  • At 4 p.m., the Chicago Riverwalk will close east of State Street to all pedestrian traffic. The remainder of the Riverwalk west of State Street will close based on public safety. Viewing will not be allowed from the Chicago Riverwalk. 
  • Beginning at 11 p.m., expect complete closures of the Franklin/Orleans Street, Lasalle Street, Clark Street, Dearborn Street, and State Street bridges to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic. 
  • Also at 11 p.m., eastbound Upper, Middle and Lower Wacker Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic from Lake Street to Stetson Avenue. Pedestrian traffic and viewing from Upper Wacker Drive will be permitted. 
  • Streets and bridges are expected to reopen to vehicular traffic approximately 10 minutes after the fireworks display ends. All bridges and streets are expected to reopen by 12:30 a.m. on Saturday.

CTA Reroutes and NYE Plans

  • CTA will be operating on a Sunday/Holiday schedule on Friday. 
  • Free Rides: CTA will provide free bus and rail rides beginning at 10 p.m. Friday (12/31) and continuing through 4 a.m. Saturday (1/1); customers do not need to tap their Ventra Card or other payment methods to board buses or enter rail stations during this time (more info). 
  • Bus Service: Beginning as early as 10 p.m. Friday and until as late as 2 a.m. Saturday, the following CTA buses running North and South over the river will operate only to Wacker for the duration of the fireworks event:
    • #3 King Drive
    • #6 Jackson Park Express
    • #22 Clark
    • #36 Broadway
    • #62 Archer
    • #146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express
    • #147 Outer Drive Express
    • #151 Sheridan
  • Other buses in the vicinity of the fireworks, including those serving Wacker Drive and Navy Pier are subject to temporary, rolling reroutes to adjacent streets. 
  • A complete listing of all CTA bus service impacts is available at www.transitchicago.com/travel-information/bus-status/ 
  • Properly worn masks are required at all times while on CTA buses, trains and properties. 

Watercraft Impacts

  • Increased security measures will be in place.  
  • No boats are allowed to transit within the USCG Safety Zone, which includes the area just west of the Franklin Street bridge and continuing east of the Columbus Drive bridge. 

COVID Guidelines

City officials say while the historic fireworks display comes at a time COVID cases are surging, they encourage residents to celebrate the holiday safely.

“I’m thrilled that we are able to welcome back our New Year’s Eve fireworks and hope to continue this tradition into the future,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Importantly, the display can be viewed outdoors where the spread of COVID-19 is less likely, so our residents and visitors should feel comfortable while masking up and social distancing or even watching safely from home. I look forward to welcoming a happy new year."

The city reminded residents that mask mandates remain in place indoors and said many venues will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter holiday events.

Earlier this week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker offered a blunt message in hope of persuading residents to say home for the holiday.

"Omicron and delta are coming to your party," the governor said, as he urged people to take care and think twice about taking part in large gatherings.

When it comes to overall gatherings, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, acknowledged "people are going to do what they want to do." But she explained those who do decide to take part in celebrations can employ strategies to reduce the likelihood of contracting COVID-19.

"...If you're going to be in a gathering, there are a lot of people that you keep your mask on the entire time, and you put on a high-quality mask," she advised. "Then, when you have to take it off to eat or drink, keep some distance from other people so that you're not swapping air with people right in your face..."

Some people may think that once they arrive at a party, the masks can go away, the doctor said, but stated "that's absolutely the wrong strategy."

"Next year, you know, for 2023, you can have your... maskless face," she said. "For this year, let's do New Year's small, with our masks."

How to Watch

NBC 5 Chicago will ring in the New Year with a special show, "A Very Chicago New Year," hosted by Cortney Hall and Matthew Rodrigues of "Chicago Today." The program celebrates some of the best the city has to offer.

To help kick off 2022, several celebrities make guest appearances, including Chicago New Year’s Eve icons Janet Davies and Mark Giangreco. Reuniting Chicago’s unofficial New Year’s Eve couple leads to fun antics the pair have been known for during the past 20 years.

"We’re thrilled to bring this very Chicago ensemble together to start the New Year and provide viewers with an expanded show this year," said Kevin Cross, president of NBC Universal Local Chicago.

It wouldn’t be New Year’s without a few fun games and reminiscing with celebrities Buddy Guy, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Giuliana Rancic and more. Plus, performances by rock legends Chicago and The Blues Brothers.

The show will be broadcast on Friday, Dec. 31 at 11:08 p.m. on NBC 5, streaming on NBCChicago.com and through NBC Chicago's free apps on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple.

How to Get Alerts

OEMC will issue any alerts and notifications needed to keep residents and attendees up to date on weather conditions and emergencies.  Sign up for NotifyChicago alerts at NotifyChicago.org. OEMC also issues TEXT alerts for lakefront notices, issues affecting businesses or COVID-19 updates: 

  • CHILAKE: For lakefront notices, TEXT “CHILAKE” to 7-8-0-1-5 
  • CHIBIZ: For alerts affecting businesses, TEXT “CHIBIZ” to 6-7-2-8-3 
  • COVID: Get COVID-19 updates by TEXTING “COVID19” to 6-7-2-8-3 
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