Because NYE bar parties are overrated
There evidently was a meeting where it was decided the Great Gatsby and casino night are the official themes of every New Year's Eve party until the end of time? If you're tired of the "been there, done that" bar and party scene, there are some great alternatives to tie up 2019 with a bow and kick off a new decade.
From outdoor recreation to a night of live music and dazzling lights there's something for everyone, whether you're ringing in 2020 solo or with a crew. Some events do require having tickets in advance, but there are a few you can just show up to.
1. Say Good-bye to 2019, Go Go style
Dance the last night of the year away with E.U and Sugar Bear, two of the biggest and best names in DC’s Go Go music scene! A legendary fixture in DC, E.U. has collaborated with Kurtis Blow on "Party Time," Salt-N-Pepa on their hit jam “Shake Your Thang” and the legendary Grace Jones on her anthem "Slave To The Rhythm,” but are probably best known for their #1 smash hit "Da Butt" from the soundtrack to Spike Lee's movie "School Daze." The song is an all-time classic on the radio and the dance floor still today! E.U. has performed on tour around the world and appeared in music videos on MTV and BET, as well as national television shows including Arsenio Hall, Soul Train and Showtime At The Apollo. Ring in the New Year in true DC style! 9PM show at Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club; tickets are $59.50 - $79.50.
2. Celebrate at First Night Alexandria
Now in it’s 25th year, First Night Alexandria is a celebration of the new year through the performing arts. Retail stores, churches, museums and public buildings are turned into performance venues to showcase incredible local and regional talent. This year's celebration will include more than 100 live performances at more than 30 venues, the Annual Fun Hunt, plus children’s entertainment and interactive games, and a spectacular midnight finale with fireworks over the Potomac River. Tickets: $30 December 1 – 30; $35 December 31.
3. Visit Miracle on 34th Street in Baltimore
Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th Street is a holiday tradition that was started in 1947 but a couple that loved decorating their homes for Christmas. Each year, the 700 block of 34th Street in Hampden lights up with holiday decorations, one-of-a-kind sculptures, and more lights than you could imagine. The streets are crowded with hundreds of people, taking a stroll down to enjoy the displays while meeting residents of Baltimore who are just as unique as their decorations. A few even allow visitors to peek inside. Lights will stay on all night on New Year’s Eve.
4. Rock out at the Oh He Dead & Color Palette NYE Show
Catch an amazing double-bill of amazing music from two area bands! Since moving from their folky sound toward a funkier genre that they call “indie soul,” the five-piece band Oh He Dead has had audiences grinding on the dance floor. The group has blown up since the release of their song “Lonely Sometimes” for the 2019 NPR Tiny Desk contest, thanks in part to lead singer Cynthia Johnson’s vocals, which have been described as a combination of Stevie Nicks and Tracy Chapman. They’ll be joined by other local faves, electro-pop outfit Color Palette, who are touring their newest album, Shed Your Skin. Union Stage; tickets: $30 - 35.
5. Take a Cooking Class
Get a jump start on your 2020 resolutions to improve your culinary skills with an end-of-year cooking class at Sur La Table. Or learn to make Top Chef-worthy food in the comfort of your own home, solo or with a group for your own DIY dinner party.
6. Binge movies about DC
With its epic backdrops of monuments and memorials, plus all of the scandals and intrigue, DC is a great city; no wonder so many movies are set here. Few movies show the real DC, but there are some great ones that have been filmed in, or are set in and around the District, so microwave some popcorn and enjoy a DC-themed binge movie night. Free
7. Carry-out and dine-in
If cooking or getting a restaurant reservation is off the menu, try one of the DMV’s ever-growing food hall options for dining selections that will suit every palette, diet and budget. Sample a little bit of whatever catches your fancy and make a “no cooking required” night of it at home.
8. Take a late night walk to see the memorials
DC is magical at night with the monuments and memorials bathed in the glow of the moon. Bundle up and go for a late night stroll to admire the city without the hustle and bustle. Free
9. Delight in DC’s holiday decorations
Make it a night full of holiday cheer and walk or ride for a tour of DC’s Christmas trees; most are within walking distance of each other if you’re in a very holiday mood! Or admire the holiday handiwork in your neighborhood if you want to stick closer to home. Free
10. Have the coolest night out in an igloo
The beginning of a new decade is a big deal, so if you’re looking for a big night out to match, reserve one of the luxurious, custom-designed igloo experiences on the outdoor terrace of the Watergate’s whiskey bar. Rental rates for the private heated domes, which seat two to eight, range from $150 to $300. Food and beverage minimums range from $50 to $75 per person, depending on time and size of party. Please note: The rental fee and food and beverage minimum may vary on holidays or special occasions.
11. Get lit at Georgetown Glow
Get your glow on at Georgetown’s public outdoor light art exhibit with interactive works by local, national and international artists. Installations are staged across the area, so stroll the historic neighborhood’s cobblestone streets and experience the shine of the holiday’s in a whole new way. 5 - 10pm nightly in Georgetown until January 5. Free
12. Raise a Glass at the Hannukah Bar
Wrap up 2019 with a helping of latkes, sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts), and glasses of Manischewitz at the “Chai-vy and Cone-y” Hanukkah bar. Expect a menu with family favorite Jewish foods and drink, including Slivovitz plum brandy, and He’Brew beers. The biggest draw, ShotNorah, will return, too. It’s a giant menorah fashioned like a “shotski” (a ski with shot glasses attached) made so eight guests can take a shot at once. You can catch candle-lighting ceremonies throughout the eight nights of Hanukkah, as well as dreidel competitions, raffles, and plenty of chocolate gelt coins.
13. Enjoy a night in … at a hotel
Staying in doesn’t necessarily mean at your own home. Book a night at a local hotel and indulge in new surroundings, room service and getting away from it all, without the hassle of TSA. From bed and breakfast stays to resorts, there’s an escape to fight your budget. Prices vary
14. Be dazzled at Meadowlark's Winter Walk of Lights
The dazzling walking tour includes over a half-million LED lights and unique animated displays with a nature themes that are sure to delight onlookers. You'll see everything from bubbling streams, jumping fish, deer, and dragonflies. And of course, there will also be seasonal displays including a Gingerbread Village and even a pumpkin patch. The path is about a half of a mile long, so wear good walking shoes and bundle up tight. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at Light Refreshments). Various times available; tickets are $8 - $14.50.
15. Unwind with an home massage
You can have pretty much anything delivered to your home within an hour nowadays. Dinner? That’s easy. Groceries? No problem. And now you can add a massage to the list. Get some candles, music and book a relaxing massage from DC-based company Unwind for yourself or you and your boo in the comfort of your own home. You can also give the Soothe and Zeel apps, two of the biggest national services, a test run. Prices vary
16. Be purposeful at a New Year’s Eve mini retreat
Set your intentions for the new year through an inspiring blend of yoga, mindfulness, and reflection. Spend your final mOMents of 2019 basking in a creative yoga flow coupled with mindfulness practices and intention setting. Bring a journal, a pen, and an open heart. This class is appropriate for all levels of yoga practitioners. Yoga Works Studio in Dupont Circle; 2:00 - 5:00 PM, tickets are $60.
17. Go on a hike
Enjoy a leisurely walk, or challenge yourself with a hike, at one of the DC-area’s many public trails and parks. The Arboretum with the remnants of the Capital columns is a great option, as is the Rock Creek Park, which is more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park, explore Roosevelt Island or other nearby options. Free
18. Head out to a winery
Take a road trip and experience tasting rooms in the midst of expansive vineyards, with rolling hills and the Blue Ridge Mountains as a stunning backdrop. Here are 9 wineries within one hour of DC that will wet your whistle; remember check hours before you leave and drink responsibly.
19. Have a night of laughs
Kick off the New Year on a note of howling merriment and join in a night of side-splitting fun at the DC Improv Comedy Club. A favorite in the L.A. comedy scene, headliner Adam Ray has been in big-time movies and co-hosts a hit podcast (About Last Night). Price: $35 early show (7:30p), $75 countdown show (10:15pm) at the DC Improv Comedy Club.
20. Go on a hidden murals of DC bike tour
Explore and discover DC’s hidden murals on a two-hour bike ride through some of Washington, DC's historic neighborhoods. The bike tour offers a multi-sensory exposure to Columbia Heights, Pleasant Plains, U Street, and Adams Morgan. At a leisurely pace, we'll explore scenes and art that are otherwise off the beaten path, which typical tourist opportunities often ignore. Learn about these important diverse neighborhoods, the artists who frequent them, and the history that inspires it all. 9:30am - 11:30am; $35.
21. Get medieval
Bring in the New Year by going back to medieval times. Tickets include: 2-hour tournament, 4-course feast, midnight countdown with the Knights of the Realm and champagne toast, and music and dancing. Adults $72.95 & Kids $36.95 | Valid only for the 9:45pm show on 12/31/2019.
22. Hit the ice
Lace up your skates and practice your triple Axels (or just standing up) at one of DC’s public skating rinks, some of which also offer outstanding views. Hours and prices vary
Look up, down, and all around. Adventures can be found everywhere -- if you're curious enough to look. k for it