“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” is one of the few songs dedicated to that holiday. If you don’t yet have an answer, check out First Night Alexandria, just 15 minutes from our university in Washington DC.
First Night Alexandria, complete with stunning fireworks along the Potomac River and a chance to tour Old Town Alexandria, is widely considered one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations in the area. It is also safe, affordable, and suitable both for adults and families.
First Night Celebration
The fireworks finale is preceded by a performance by the Stairwells, an all-male a cappella group from the College of William and Mary. The Stairwells’s performance begins at 10:00 at the Alexandria Waterfront, at the end of King Street. At10:30, dancing to a DJ begins! Right before midnight, Alexandria’s mayor was lead off the countdown to 2016.
But before the star-spangled finale, there is almost a full day of celebration! Local shops, restaurants and buildings in Old Town Alexandria are open with food and performance venues. Throughout the day, there are tours of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial at 101 Callahan Drive. It is both a colossal memorial and museum intended to honor the memory and character of George Washington.
From 2 to 5, you can learn about Alexandria’s potters at this fun, hands-on activity at the Alexandria Archaeology Museum, located on the third floor of the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
At 3:00, clowns, carnival games, and magicians will be available to entertain the public. A bit later, there will be comedians and jugglers. At 7:00 p.m., performers begin all over the city: fiddle music, jazz, blues, classical guitarists—you name it. From then until 2016, it is your musical choice and more!
Old Town Alexandria
In addition to the festivities, of course, there is the charm of Old Town Alexandria itself. It is an area of cobblestone streets, beautifully preserved architecture (homes, churches, and waterfront taverns) dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Make a day of it; tour the Old Town during the day and enjoy First Night once evening falls.
Alexandria, Virginia was a vitally important city during both the American Revolution and the Civil War. The families of first president George Washington and Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate army during the Civil War, had homes in the city and were deeply embedded in the region. There are monuments to both. The first is the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, which will be open for tours during First Night. The second is the historic Lee Fendall House, built in the late eighteenth century, which housed generations of the Lee family.
A walk around of Old Town Alexandria should start at the historic Ramsay House. Ramsay House was built in the mid-eighteenth century by a Scottish merchant and is the first house constructed in the city. Currently, it is also the home of the Alexandria Visitors Center. Helpful staff and maps for a self-guided tour of the Old Town neighborhood are available.
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The Lyceum, a beautiful columned nineteenth-century structure, serves as Alexandria’s History Museum. It contains decorative items such as teapots and silver services and historical photographs, such as the Civil War photographs taken by Matthew Brady. (The building served as a hospital during the Civil War.)
The self-guided tour will also take you to the breath-taking Captain’s Row, a street of nineteenth-century sea captains’ mansions, the Episcopal Church where both the Washington and Lee families worshipped, and numerous historic homes and sites.
Alexandria has wonderful food choices, and restaurants will be celebrating the First Night festivity with special menus and abundant hours of operation.
Please contact us to discuss your education plans.