While I’m big on festive parties and having any excuse to be dressed to the nines, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve often shied away from New Year’s Eve events over the years – not because they don’t look fun, but because they can break the bank for some of us. That being said, the District’s burgeoning creative and foodie scenes have grown so exponentially in the past decade that the options to celebrate seem limitless and span many budgets. We picked our top five ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve in DC this year – all around $100 and under and with much to choose from. From channeling your inner spy to finding the right 90s dance party for you, we’ve got you covered – so read on and find a unique way to ring in the New Year that speaks to you.
Espionage Awaits: Party Like a Spy
The International Spy Gala is an NYE mainstay in the District, with spy-themed everything: a mock casino (with prizes, of course), spy ice luges at the ice bar, spy gold girls and spy male dancers, and much more. Dressing the part is encouraged, so be sure to get into character as your favorite secret agent or femme fatale. Other perks include party favors, two balloon drops, a live band and DJ, and live feeds to the Times Square countdown. 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Tickets start at $110. Washington Plaza Hotel: 10 Thomas Cir. NW, DC; www.fb.com/SpyGalaDCNYE
Beer-Centric: Party Like a Beer Head
This one’s for you, beer nerds. The Neighborhood Restaurant Group is offering two opportunities to celebrate that are 100 percent beer-themed. Head to Bluejacket in Capitol Riverfront for an open bar featuring all of the brewery’s drafts and casks – plus cocktails, a champagne toast with good bubbly (pro tip: it’s Chandon rosé, which is excellent), an all-you-can-eat menu including smoked salmon crepes and pulled pork sliders, and live music and DJ sets. If you’d rather stay put in Northwest, head to ChurchKey in Logan Circle for a similar and equally fantastic option featuring a full selection of the beer bar’s best offerings of craft beer, vino, cocktails and snacks, a very affordable four-course tasting menus at Birch & Barley downstairs, a DJ, champagne toast, and much more. ChurchKey’s party runs 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. and tickets start at $105. Bluejacket’s party runs 9:30 p.m. – 2 a.m. and tickets start at $110. Bluejacket: 300 Tingey St. SE, DC; www.bluejacketdc.com // ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com
Keep It Classy: Party Like a Jazz Lover
Feeling fancy but don’t want to drain your checking account? Get dolled up and sip some bubbly in style at the Kennedy Center’s A Jazz New Year’s Eve event featuring an evening of jazz music from Grammy nominee Branford Marsalis followed by a blowout in the Center’s Grand Foyer with champagne bars, dancing, a balloon drop, a photo booth, a countdown to midnight and much more. Pro tip: brave the cold and take some Instaworthy shots out on the terrace with killer views of the city. Starts at 7 p.m., tickets $75. The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts: 2700 F St. NW, DC; www.kennedy-center.org
Pick Your Decade: Party Like It’s…
If you want to dance the night away, the District has no shortage of high-energy concerts and dance parties. To keep your options open if you’re up for multiple stops in one neighborhood, we recommend heading to The Wharf or Shaw. At The Wharf, catch DC’s favorite 90s cover band White Ford Bronco at The Anthem (9 p.m. show, tickets start at $75) and/or an 80s dance party with rap, R&B, freestyle, new wave, rock and pop from DJ Marco at Union Stage (9 p.m. show, $30-$35 tickets). Over in Shaw, head to 9:30 Club for a concert that’s equal parts punk rock and hip-hop from Gogol Bordello and special guests (doors at 9 p.m., tickets $75 and check out our interview with frontman Eugene Hütz here) and then head next door to Satellite Room to celebrate 2020 like its 1999 at the Back in the Day 90s dance party (9 p.m. – 3 a.m., tickets start at $40). 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com // The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com; Satellite Room: 2047 9th St. NW, DC; www.satellitedc.com; Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com
Keep It Simple: Party with DC Fray
Sometimes, the simplest option is the best. If you’re into low-key, affordable, fun celebrations, then look no further. Tickets to DC Fray’s two NYE options at Kelly’s Irish Times near Union Station and Grand Central in AdMo are a steal at $69 per person with live DJs, party favors, champagne toasts, specialty cocktails, quality beers and more. General admission to both events includes open bar starting at 9:30 p .m., appetizers until 11 p.m. and a champagne toast at midnight. Grand Central: 2447 18th St NW, Washington, DC; www.grandcentraldc.com // Kelly’s Irish Times: 14 F St. NW, DC; www.kellysirishtimesdc.com
Treat Yo’ Self: New Year’s Day R&R
For those of you feeling ambitious enough to leave the house, we recommend foodie spots with lots of options to cure your hangover (Union Market if you’re in the District, The Block if you’re coming from the burbs). Plus, check out our top cozy spots to nosh during wintry days. Or if you’re looking for some hair of the dog, read about some of our top picks for local winter brews and spots with unique bubbly offerings. But if you’re nursing an epic hangover and just want to binge-watch Netflix shows in your sweatpants, we totally get it. **Pro-tip: Pedialyte is our go-to for rehydrating and feeling human again. Pick up lots of free samples at DC Fray’s NYE locations or if you’re feeling super healthy on New Year’s Day, swing by any Balance Gym in the city if you’re feeling super healthy on New Year’s Day).
For a comprehensive list of NYE events to choose from, pick up a copy of our December issue or check it out here.
**Pedialyte is a sponsor of DC Fray.