10 Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve in Washington, D.C.

Fireworks over the Capital Building

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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.

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Take a Cruise Along the Potomac River

Odyssey on Potomac River
Courtesy of Spirit Cruises

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

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Attend a Family-Friendly First Night Event

Kids on New Years Eve
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Head to suburbia in Alexandria, Virginia for a spectacular First Night event. This alcohol-free, family-focused celebration includes several live performances, a scavenger hunt, and children's games. Retail shops transform themselves into concert venues and museums host art classes. You can spend the whole day out and then cap off the fun with a fireworks display over the Potomac after dusk. If you can't make it to Alexandria, other nearby towns host First Night and family-centric events, too.

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Party at a New Year’s Eve Gala


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If you're looking for an adult-only affair for New Year's, several Washington, D.C. hotels, restaurants, 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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Celebrate with a Fireworks Display

Alexandria Fireworks
Victor Wolansky/Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

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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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 the prix fixe menu at All Set. Most restaurants require advance reservations for New Year's Eve, so choose wisely, but quickly, and call as soon as you can.

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Enjoy Live Music or Theater

DC Jazz Festival
DC Jazz Festival

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 hippest night spots. And, of course, there's always a lively party at Georgetown's Washington Harbour. Usually, advanced tickets are required and often sell out.

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Attend the Party on the Georgetown Waterfront

Georgetown Waterfront
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Locals love the New Year's Eve party atmosphere on the Georgetown Waterfront. You can take in awesome views of the Potomac River while choosing among the several dining options along the route. The restaurants near the Washington Harbour join together to offer a special party package including food, drink, music, and more. 

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Go Dancing at a Nightclub

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Nightclubs in the D.C. area range from large multi-level spaces, complete with state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, to small and cozy spots with live entertainment. On New Year's Eve, this is where you'll find D.C.'s party crowd.

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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 and live entertainment.

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Hit Up a Sports Bar

Nellies Sports Bar, Washington DC
Nellies Sports Bar

For a more casual option, pull up a stool at a D.C. area sports bar and watch the clock strike midnight while gathering around a large-screen TV. Many bars offer munchies alongside their New Year's Eve drink menu. The Greene Turtle has several happy hour drink specials and caters to families as well. They'll even ring in the new year early, at 9 p.m., for anyone who wants to beat the traffic home or get to bed early.

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