8 Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve in Washington, DC

Fireworks over the Capital Building

 franckreporter / Getty Images

No plans for New Year’s Eve? The D.C. area is chock-full of New Year's celebrations to suit all tastes. From a lively night out to a romantic dinner or family-friendly event, ringing in the New Year can mean keeping it local or venturing over the border to neighboring suburbs for the night. Many events require a reservation, so call ahead and check the event-specific schedule.

Many New Year's Eve events for 2020–2021 have been canceled or scaled back. Confirm the most current event details with individual organizers before making end-of-year plans.

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Party at a Casino Resort

MGM National Harbor casino
Sean Kelley

Enjoy a night on the game floor playing slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, or poker at the MGM Casino at National Harbor or Maryland Live! Casino. The countdown to midnight includes a live viewing of the Times Square ball drop in New York City and both casinos have a variety of great dining venues. Both casinos are open for New Year's Eve 2020, although they have new guidelines in place, such as temperature checks, reserved time slots, and mandatory mask use. Confirm the most up-to-date protocols at the casino you choose before arriving.

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Enjoy New Year's Eve Dining Specials

Couples having dinner

Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

A quiet, romantic dinner is on every D.C. foodie's New Year's Eve agenda. Many restaurants even offer special menus and entertainment to celebrate the occasion. A few of the city's favorites include a traditional Balkan Peninsula dinner at Ambar Restaurant on Capitol Hill or you could enjoy some tropical cocktails at Cuba Libre and Rum Bar. Most restaurants require advance reservations for New Year's Eve and fill up quickly, so call your choice as early as possible.

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Attend the Party on the Georgetown Waterfront

Georgetown Waterfront

Hisham Ibrahim / Getty Images

The New Year's Eve Party on the Georgetown Waterfront is canceled in 2020, but some restaurants are open for New Year's Eve dining.

Locals love the New Year's Eve party atmosphere on the Georgetown Waterfront. Even though the annual New Year's Eve festivities are not taking place to close out 2020, some individual restaurants on the waterfront are open on New Year's Eve, such as Sequoia or Fiola Mare, so call ahead to make reservations and take in awesome views of the Potomac River.

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Attend a Family-Friendly First Night Event

Kids on New Years Eve

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All First Night Events have been canceled or downscaled for New Year's Eve 2020. Check the details for the specific town you plan to visit to confirm.

Head to suburbia in Alexandria, Virginia, for a spectacular First Night event. This alcohol-free, family-focused celebration usually includes several live performances, a scavenger hunt, and children's games, while retail shops transform themselves into concert venues and museums host art classes. However, the 2020–2021 First Night Alexandria event can be enjoyed from your vehicle at the Alexandria Drive-In Theater, or from your own home via a live stream of the event.

If you can't make it to Alexandria, other nearby towns host First Night and family-centric events, too.

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Take a Cruise Along the Potomac River

Odyssey on Potomac River
Courtesy of Spirit Cruises

As of December 2020, Hornblower Cruises are not running until further notice.

You can spend the last night of the year by taking in the view of D.C.'s magnificent skyline from the Potomac River. Hornblower Cruises offer unforgettable New Year's Eve cruises, complete with dining and dancing. ​A cruise makes for a great fun evening with friends or a romantic night with your special someone.

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Celebrate with a Fireworks Display

Alexandria Fireworks

Victor Wolansky / Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

Many firework events in the D.C. area have been canceled or modified for New Year's Eve 2020. Check with individual event webpages to confirm.

Start the new year out with a bang by braving both the cold weather and the crowds to watch one of the region's fireworks displays. Most events are family-friendly and include a full evening of activities. Some of the best fireworks shows in the area can be found at the National Mall, over the Potomac River, and in not-too-far cities like Annapolis and Baltimore.

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Party at a New Year’s Eve Gala


CaiaImage / Getty Images

Most party and club events are canceled for New Year's Eve 2020.

If you're looking for an adult-only affair for New Year's, several Washington, D.C., hotels and nightclubs host fabulous parties, many with an open bar and a wide variety of music and entertainment. Young professionals will enjoy the Professionals in the City New Year's Eve Gala hosted by Embassy Suites, which includes a speed-dating event for singles and a champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight. Book a room at one of the area's hotels for a safe night of celebration. Tickets sell out, so plan ahead.

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Enjoy Live Music or Theater

DC Jazz Festival
DC Jazz Festival

Entertainment venues across Washington, D.C., have paused their live shows in 2020.

Washington, D.C., is a prime venue for live entertainment, and concerts top the list on this special night. Attend A Jazz New Year's Eve at the Kennedy Center to watch world-renowned jazz artists. Or enjoy rotating artists at The Hamilton, one of D.C.'s hottest nightspots. And, of course, there's always a lively party at Georgetown's Washington Harbour. Usually, advanced tickets are required and often sell out.