Ring in 2014 with Family Celebrations
Another year has come and passed, and it is time to welcome 2014. Most bars, restaurants and hotels are offering packages to help you ring in the new year, but here are some family-friendly celebrations.
First Night Alexandria
First Night Alexandria is a celebration of the new year through the performing arts. Local shops, restaurants and buildings in Old Town Alexandria turn into performance venues to showcase local talent. It’s fun, affordable, safe and venues are alcohol free. Events take place throughout Alexandria beginning at 1 p.m. and culminate in fireworks at the river at midnight.
Sponsored by the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, there will be audience participation events, comedy, music, dance, storytelling and kid-focused events. There will be a fun hunt in which teams follow clues tracing the steps of George Washington and other players in Alexandria’s history as you solve clues from historical plaques and buildings. Clue sheets can be picked up at that time at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street. A 2013 First Night Alexandria admission badge is required to pick up a clue sheet. Participation is limited to the first 250 teams to pick up clue sheets. Be sure to return to the Durant Arts Center, 1605 Cameron St., by 5:30 p.m. in order to be eligible for three grand prizes. There will be three prizes for adults and three for children! This is not a timed event!
The finale of the battle of the bands, a competition for teenage solo artists and bands, will feature Noize, 4 Short of a Dozen and Fuse Box, the top three vote getters followed by Keira Moran, last year’s winner, from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Durant Arts Center. All finalists will receive cash prizes and the winner receives a contract to be a paid performer at First Night Alexandria 2014.
The evening’s finale begins at 10 p.m. at the foot of King Street with the soft sounds of the Stairwells from the College of William and Mary. At 10:30 p.m., they’ll crank up the energy with DJ Ray Casiano. Just before midnight, Alexandria’s Mayor, Bill Euille, and friends will count us down to a fabulous fireworks display on the Potomac River.
Dec. 31 from 1 p.m.-12:15 a.m. throughout Old Town Alexandria. Cost is $20 (children 12 and under are free). Tickets are available online here or at event venues until 10 p.m.
New Year’s Annapolis
The City of Annapolis sponsors New Year’s Annapolis is a family-oriented event based on the “First Night” concept that provides attendees with a fun-filled and safe environment for all ages to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The event includes live musical entertainment and will feature two fireworks displays, an early show for families and early-risers and a traditional midnight spectacular to ring in 2014.
The Annapolis Drum and Bugle Corps kicks of the celebration along with the town crier who will lead a march from the Market House to the Big Tent. From 3-7 p.m. the Chesapeake Children’s Museum will help children make wearable and playable fun things from materials they use everyday, and there will be face painting. From 4:30-5 p.m. there will be a magic show with Jack Julius and from 5:30-6:30 p.m. entertainment by Goombay Caribbean Experience with a limbo contest. From 8 p.m.-midnight there will be a party on the dock with DJ Scott Hymes and the band Radio City. Fireworks will be at 7:30 p.m. and midnight.
Dec. 31 from 3 p.m.-12:30 a.m. on City Dock at Susan Campbell Park. Free! No badges or buttons are required. Parking in city garages and rides on the Circulator are free.
First Night Vienna
First Night Vienna is a new family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration presented by the Vienna Business Association and the Town of Vienna. The event is geared to all ages and will be a fun, alcohol-free celebration in the heart of Historic Church Street. Enjoy an evening of food, entertainment, music, plus hands-on activities for children and adults. This is a free event with an assortment of local food trucks, give-aways for the kids, and two New Years celebrations ( 9 p.m. for younger children and a finale at midnight).
Entertainment will be held in the Main Tent at the Caboose Parking lot on Church Street, Concord Lodge at 146 Church St. NE, Caffe Amouri at 107 Church St. NE and the Vienna Presbyterian Church chapel at 124 Park St. NE.
Dec. 31 from 7 p.m.-midnight near the intersection of Church Street NE and Dominion Road NE near the Vienna Town Green and along the W&OD Trail. Free!
The City of Falls Church rings in the New Year with a free family-oriented event, the Watch Night New Year’s Eve spectacular. The celebration features entertainment, performances and interactive festivities for all ages. The evening will also feature a New Year’s countdown and lowering of the historic star that first lit the Falls Church sky in 1948 – the year Falls Church became an independent city.
Kids activities including a 66-foot dragon obstacle course, a Velcro wall, karaoke, face painting, caricaturist drawings, inflatables, a scavenger hunt, magic shows, dance lessons, free popcorn and more.
Music performed by five bands and three DJs including the Pluckerland Band, The Big Band “Northern Lights” 18-piece orchestra and Cowboy Hay’s Music and Humor. Dancing demonstrations and lessons will be provided by Hand Dance Professionals Riki and Billie, as well as swing dancing featured at the Northern Lights Orchestra venue.
Dec. 31 from 7 p.m.-midnight at the intersection of Broad Street (Route 7) and Washington Street (Route 29). Free! All venues are located within three blocks. A shuttle bus is available between venues and from the East Falls Church Metro. Free parking is available at the Falls Church Presbyterian Church, 225 East Broad St.
Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular
The tradition continues! Ring in the New Year with family, friends, live music, fireworks and lights. Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular includes live music at the Inner Harbor Amphitheater, located and Pratt and Light Streets, followed by fireworks.
The fireworks display is the largest in the region turning the sky over the Inner Harbor into a multitude of colors. The choreographed fireworks show starts at the stroke of midnight. Residents and visitors can view the fireworks from along the Inner Harbor promenade, as well as the neighborhoods of Federal Hill, Locust Point, Canton, Harbor East and Fell’s Point.
Dec. 31 from 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. at Inner Harbor, Pratt and Light Streets. Free.
Festival of Lights
For a more low-key New Year’s Eve, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) presents its 36th Festival of Lights. The festival features free performances at 7 and 8 p.m. nightly in a state-of-the-art theater located in the visitors’ center. “Chinese Children Dancers” will perform on New Year’s Eve and “BBT Trio” will finish out the festival on New Year’s Day.
The temple grounds glow with 600,000 lights and Christmas trees decorated in international themes. There is also an exhibit of crèches from around the world and a life-sized outdoor nativity.
Through Jan. 1, 2014 from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center, 9900 Stoneybrook Dr., Kensington, Md. Free!
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.