The First Night Experience

The first night of the new year is a cause for celebration in any town of any country, charged with hope and optimism, waiting for the fresh start that only a new year can bring. Washington, DC is one of the best cities in the world to celebrate! On land or on river, by neighborhoods or decadent hotels and resorts, Washington, DC pulls all the stops to ensure everyone in and around the nation's capital enjoys this remarkable day.
English: fireworks seen across the at Washingt...
Fireworks display at Washington, D.C., USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An All-Inclusive Affair

A popular option in celebrating the New Year is to attend parties hosted in area hotels, nightclubs, and restaurants. Celebrate with the security in knowing that food, drinks, and a variety of music come with the admission fee. The largest event in the area is Big Night D.C. at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center. Other venues that offer this entertainment option are the Night at the Newseum, Gatsby Trilogy at the Sequoia restaurant, the Cirque du International 2017 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, the International Spy Gala at the Washington Plaza Hotel, the Passport to the World Gala at the Capital Hilton, the Black Tie Gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, among many others.
 The International Spy Gala | Photo courtesy of
 The International Spy Gala | Photo courtesy of

For a Family Fete

Washington is filled with communities of young families, which can become both a challenge and an opportunity. Neighboring cities offer First Night to those families that wish to celebrate the New Year with little ones. Closest to Washington, D.C. is Old Town Alexandria. Always a popular gathering, First Night in Alexandria begins their celebration with an Annual Fun Hunt and other activities starting 2 p.m. Later in the evening, live entertainment, all fitting for all ages, will begin starting at 7 p.m. Ending the night for families is a spectacular fireworks show over the Potomac river, which is scheduled at 10 p.m. First Night events are also offered in Annapolis, Fall Church, Vienna, and Winchester.

Cruising in Celebration

The Odyssey and the Spirit of Washington are two river cruises that regularly travel the Potomac River, offering breathtaking views of the Washington skyline and its neighboring cities of Arlington and Old Town Alexandria. The best part about cruising for the night is the comfort in knowing that drinking and dancing on the first night of the year is safely contained on the vessel.

A Casino Celebration

Earlier this month, the MGM National Harbor opened its doors to the public to showcase its resort with a casino housing 3,600 slots, 140 table games including poker, a 300‐suite 4.5‐star quality hotel with luxury spa and rooftop pool, high-end branded retail stores, both fine and casual dining restaurants, The Theater at MGM National Harbor--a 1,200-seat theater venue; and 35,000 square feet of meeting and event space. And while its grand opening was, in fact, a social extravaganza, the resort has even bigger plans for its inaugural New Year celebration. According to its website, the MGM National Harbor will require patrons to a resort ticket and an upscale or semi-formal dress code for the entire New Year weekend for its exclusive event of elevated atmosphere, entertainment, and a midnight champagne toast.  Duran Duran is scheduled to perform, and those who have concert tickets are not required to purchase a resort ticket for access during the weekend. The resort ticket requirement is also waived for those who are guest holders of hotel, restaurant, or lounge reservations. More details can be found on their website.
In prior years, the Maryland Live Casino was the nearest casino destination in the DC area. And it's still a great venue to celebrate the New Year for those who wish to have a more casual weekend. Opened in June 2012, this gambling facility contains more than 4300 Las Vegas style slot machines, electronic and live action table games, and a 52-table Poker Room. Conveniently located halfway between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore., Maryland Live Casino also houses several bing name restaurants and the Rams Head Center Stage--a 500-seat venue with state-of-the-art light and sound features a full slate of live entertainment.

Written by Gigi Smith 
Updated December 2016
Originally published in December 2015

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