Things to Do

Five Fun, Festive Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Around DC That Aren’t Partying

Countdowns and fireworks, minus the bubbly and open bars.

Yards Park’s Noon Yards Eve event. Photograph by Kaz Sasahara.

We’ve finally made it through the year, and that calls for a celebration. While there are tons of cool parties and bar crawls happening on New Year’s Eve, you can also ring in 2022 without boozing or staying up way too late. Here are five ideas:

Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna

Spend New Year’s Eve strolling through the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. The park has been transformed into a sparkling winter wonderland with displays of greenery, animals, and holiday scenes. There will also be light-up gifts and ornaments, along with festive sweets and drinks. Tickets are $18 each.

Noon Yards Eve at The Yards Park
355 Water St., SE

Yards Park is ringing in the new year with its free family-friendly Noon Yards Eve celebration. Beginning at 10 AM,  you can ride a trackless train through the park, make some cool crafts, ride a giant slide, and watch some awesome magic shows. For those who have a bedtime long before midnight, there will be a countdown and a celebration when the clock strikes noon.

A Jazz New Year’s Eve at the Kennedy Center
2700 F St., NW

The Kennedy Center will celebrate with a start-studded evening jazz concert. For one night only, Grammy Award-winning jazz artists Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés, and Joe Lovano will stand on the same stage and croon soulful jazz tunes. Catch the show at either 7 PM or 9 PM. Tickets range from $79 to $89.

First Night Alexandria
Various locations in Old Town Alexandria

This signature holiday event returns to Old Town this year. Daytime features events all over Alexandria, including comedy shows, a magic show, a silent disco, and tons of live music. The evening roster concludes with a midnight fireworks show at the Old Town Waterfront. Tickets range from $5 to $20 (no charge for fireworks-only).

Midnight At 7: Fireworks + A Walk Through Symphony of Lights
10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia

Bring the kids out to the Merriweather Symphony of Lights for an early New Year’s celebration with fireworks. The family-oriented display features animated and stationary holiday light decorations made up of more than 300,000 bulbs. Food trucks will be on site, and the event will wrap up with a countdown to “midnight” at 7 PM and a fireworks show. Tickets range from $15-$50, depending on group size.

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Damare Baker
Assistant Editor

Before becoming an assistant editor, Damare Baker started out as an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She has previously written for Voice of America and The Hill. She is a graduate of Georgetown University, where she studied international relations, Korean, and journalism.