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Chi-Town Rising is planning an even bigger New Year's Eve celebration

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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As you've likely heard, Chi-Town Rising—the large-scale, televised, outdoor New Year's Eve celebration that debuted in 2015 and drew a reported crowd of 90,000—is returning to downtown Chicago on December 31. This time around, organizers are focused on making the event "bigger, better and even more accessible to Chicagoans and visitors alike," promising more viewing areas, a fireworks display and the return of the gigantic Chicago star, which will scale the side of the Hyatt Regency Chicago at midnight.

In a press release, event organizers Arena Partners revealed that all outdoor viewing areas on both the north and south side of the Chicago River will be free and open to the public. In 2015, Chi-Town Rising was initially pitched as a free event, but in mid-December, organizers began selling $150 tickets that granted guests access to "Broadcast Boulevard," the center of the festivities at the foot of the Hyatt Regency—those who didn't purchase a ticket were able to watch from a plaza across the river.

This year, Chi-Town Rising will feature a variety of ticketed parties at indoor venues around the city (including the Hyatt Regency and Howells & Hood), featuring musical entertainment, refreshments and views of the outdoor festivities. Returning attractions from last year's event include the free Family Countdown Celebration in Grant Park, which provides live entertainment and a “Halfway to Midnight” countdown for kids who can't stay up until the star rises.

New to this year's Chi-Town Rising slate is the Chi-Town Rise & Shine 5K, a timed race staged in collaboration with Chicago Sport & Social Club, which will allow participants to kick off the day with a run through Millennium and Grant parks.

More information about the event's musical lineup, private events and activities will be revealed ahead of the event, so you've got plenty of time to decide whether you'll brave the crowds downtown or simply watch the celebration (it will once again be aired on NBC 5 and Telemundo) from the comfort of your own home. For now, take a look at the full footprint of the event below and try not to think about how cold it's going to be as December ends and 2017 arrives.

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