Looking for things to do on New Year’s Eve? There’s no party like an Alexandria party! Old Town will transform into a giant performance venue for the 22nd annual First Night Alexandria. That’s right—more than 150 live shows will take over Alexandria art galleries, historic sites, churches and boutiques, and a fireworks finale will ring in the New Year over the Potomac River. So! Whether you’re in search of a romantic evening for two, kid-friendly activities or a shindig with friends, we’ve got tips on how to do First Night Alexandria like it’s 1999—I mean, 2016.
1. Get Your Admission Badge
Your First Night badge gets you admission to the bash’s 25 indoor venues for only $30 in 2016. Plus, kids 12 and under and active military can attend for free! Pick up your badges on New Year’s Eve at the The Durant Arts Center (from noon to 10 p.m.), the Torpedo Factory Art Center (2-5 p.m.), the George Washington National Memorial (6-10 p.m.) or at the Alexandria Visitor Center before New Year’s Eve during regular hours. For those needing last minute admission, every venue will sell badges after 7:00 p.m. Keep track of your badge—it’s your ticket for the night!
2. Stroll through Old Town or hop on the free King Street Trolley
Every year, First Night revelers stroll Old Town’s historic streets among art galleries, shops, historic sites and more that have been transformed into cozy performance venues, from Principle Gallery near the waterfront to the George Washington Masonic Memorial. The 25 venues are all within 17 blocks, so it’s walkable throughout the night. Going all out? To enjoy as many festivities as possible, the free King Street Trolley is your best bet. The trolley runs every 15 minutes from the corner of King and Union streets to the King Street Metro. Bonus: this year, the Metro is free for all riders after midnight and will be running until 3 a.m.
3. Bring the Family
As the largest family-friendly New Year’s Eve party in the DC area, First Night is chock-full of activities for kids. And the fun starts early! From the afternoon Fun Hunt around Old Town to a pet competition at the Torpedo Factory and an old-fashioned carnival in Del Ray, there are festive activities for kids of all ages. Balloon sculptures? Line dancing? Yes indeed! Find itinerary suggestions here, plus dining and hotel recommendations, so you can soak up every little bit of First Night fun.
4. Make it a Date
Nothing makes sparks fly like fireworks, right? First Night’s got all the ingredients for a romantic New Year’s Eve on the town: art galleries host intimate jazz concerts, and couples dance to roots music at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Go out for dinner at one of Old Town’s cozy restaurants, enjoy the fireworks, and stay overnight just steps away at one of Alexandria’s hotels. Now that’s amore! Plan your own romantic evening, complete with a New Year’s kiss at the stroke of 12.
5. Celebrate with Friends
Whether you’re into honky-tonk, folk rock or even traditional Irish music, you and your friends can hit dance the dance floor and groove to live performances all over Old Town. Toast the New Year at hip Old Town restaurants like Virtue Feed & Grain, with rustic American fare, pool and arcade games in a converted warehouse near the waterfront. With so many different shows to choose from and a dazzling fireworks display, First Night definitely beats crowding into your friend’s teeny apartment or the neighborhood bar to watch New Year’s happen in Times Square.
6. Ring in the New Year with Fireworks
Dazzle your way into 2017 with an unforgettable display of fireworks bursting over the Potomac at midnight. Alternatively, count down to the New Year from the Masonic Memorial steps, where you can enjoy a perfect long view of the fireworks.
For more information about First Night Alexandria, click here.