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As we get ready to welcome in 2022, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate even with Covid challenges. While D.C. has more than its fair share of late-night, boozy soirees celebrating the New Year, there are also many family-friendly and Covid conscious events to start off 2022, including partying at metrobar, forest bathing and jazz at The Kennedy Center. Here are some of the alternative New Year’s Eve events that D.C. has to offer. Note: All descriptions courtesy of event hosts and edited for clarity.
Family New Year’s Party
In the first of two parties, metrobar is hosting a family-friendly celebration with kids’ activities and games earlier on in the day. At 7 p.m., the ball drops and we’ll ring in the New Year with a toast (bubbly for the adults, cider for the kids), which is just enough time for you to get the kids to bed. Don’t worry about the cold: we have fire pits, patio heaters, a three-walled heated tent, and deck heat lamps. That, along with our festive cocktails, will keep you warm until we stop in 2022. Outdoors. Free. 4-7 p.m. metrobar: 640 Rhode Island Ave. NE, D.C.; metrobardc.com // @metrobardc
First Night Alexandria
Alexandria’s holiday capstone event, First Night Alexandria, is coming back to Old Town on December 31. This signature New Year’s Eve celebration showcases and supports the performing and lively arts with a day and evening full of curated entertainment that is family-friendly and affordable. Outdoor. Free. 12 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Old Town Alexandria: 301 King St., Alexandria, VA; firstnightalexandria.org // @firstnightalexandria
Jazz New Year’s Eve Featuring Dianne Reeves, Chucho Valdés & Joe Lovano
2021 goes out with a bang with three masters of jazz. Five-time Grammy Award winner Dianne Reeves is the pre-eminent jazz vocalist in the world today who displays her seemingly boundless collection of talents in every song. Winner of six Grammy and three Latin Grammy Awards, the Cuban pianist, composer, and arranger Chucho Valdés is today’s most influential figure in modern Afro-Cuban jazz. Grammy Award-winning saxophone titan Joe Lovano, hailed by The New York Times as “one of the greatest musicians in jazz history,” is widely recognized as a prescient and path-finding force across all genres of music. Vaccine and masks required. 7 p.m. + 9 p.m. $75+. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; kennedy-center.org // @kennedycenter
Midnight At 7: Fireworks + A Walk Through Symphony of Lights
The Symphony of Lights has been a time-honored Howard County holiday tradition set in historic Merriweather Post Pavilion. Made up of more than 300,000 bulbs, this family-oriented spectacular is a dazzling display of larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations. With the addition of new lights and a refreshed course, your time walking through the twinkling, winding path will surely be a night to remember. A portion of proceeds from this event benefits the Howard County General Hospital. Outdoors. $15+. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Merriweather Symphony of Lights: 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD; merriweatherlights.com // @merriweatherlights
Midnight Train to New Year’s Party
Let’s all jump aboard the midnight train to 2022 at metrobar’s first New Year’s Party. For the venue’s second New Year’s Eve party, there will be a DJ to dance the night away until a champagne toast at midnight. If the kids are still awake, cider will also be provided. Outdoors. $10. 8 p.m. – 1 a.m. metrobar: 640 Rhode Island Ave. NE, D.C.; metrobardc.com // @metrobardc
New Year’s Eve Forest Bathing
Join a nature and forest therapy guide in this two-hour program that encourages you to slow down and take in the National Arboretum through all your senses. Forest bathing, or shinrin yoku, is the simple practice of taking in the woods through the senses for health benefits. The benefits are immense: boosted immunity, lowered blood pressure and heart rate, improved attention and mood, and hitting the reset button on life. The Japanese have enjoyed shinrin yoku for decades as a regular public health initiative. Outdoors. $35. 12-2 p.m. US National Arboretum: 3501 New York Ave. NE, D.C.; usna.usda.gov // @fonarboretum
Families are invited to ring in the new year at D.C.’s best family-friendly celebration: Noon Yards. There are interactive activities for every member of the family including crafts, kid-friendly activities, magicians and a countdown to noon for young ones who might not make it to midnight. Outdoors. Free. 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. The Yards Park: 355 Water St., SE, D.C.; Theyardsdc.com // @theyardsDC
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