How to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Washington DC
The ultimate guide to ringing in 2022.
Time may be a construct, but celebrating its passage can still make for a pretty fabulous time. As 2021 draws to a close (can you even believe it?), the District is commemorating the occasion with a whole host of activities throughout the day. From New Year’s Eve brunches and daytime nature walks to the obligatory New Year’s Eve countdown parties, options abound for sending out 2021 in style.
To help you plan your day appropriately and keep the festivities going from sun up to sun down, we’ve rounded up the latest and greatest events celebrating the close of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 in DC.
Kick off the day with a bottomless lunch
On New Year’s Eve, DC’s Ambar locations will offer a $25 “Balkan without limits” lunch with a table full of tapas and shareables, plus free-flowing mimosas available for an additional $20 per person. Be sure to make a reservation online.
Cost: Starts at $25 per person
Check out a museum and some delicious bites
Located inside the Planet Word Museum, Immigrant Food+ is offering another pre-NYE celebration. The holiday brunch will feature a secret menu of elevated takes on festive dishes and drinks enjoyed across the world and brought to you by chef Enrique Limardo and chef Mile Montezuma. Book your table on here, the IF+ team will start sending some hints about what's on the secret menu.
Cost: A la carte, $20 reservation deposit per person
Wash away 2021 in solitude
Who says New Year’s Eve has to involve an event surrounded by humans? For the nature lovers among us, the US National Arboretum is hosting a New Year’s Eve Forest Bathing event where you’ll immerse yourself not in human company, but in nature. You’ll be prompted to “reflect on a particular aspect of the natural world around you, give you time to wander and meditate throughout the garden collection, then reconvene the group to share reflections.” Plus, there are small pre-packaged snacks to end the walk.
Cost: Pay what you can
Studio 54 has come to DC. Hotel Washington is hosting a night of merriment that hearkens back to the days of Studio 54, a.k.a the most iconic nightclub of the 1970s. The event will be hosted at the hotel’s rooftop bar, Vue, and begins at 9 pm on NYE and will wrap up at 2 am the following morning. Tickets include a complimentary Champagne toast, DJ Anthony Raad’s top hits, and plenty of photo opportunities.
Cost: Tickets start at $50 per person
Ring in the New Year in style at the Ritz Carlton’s in-house restaurant, Santé. The meal includes a five-course dinner with party favors and a Champagne toast at midnight. Featured dishes include grilled oysters, caviar, and santé’s signature whole roasted branzino with white bean puree, shaved vegetables, and tomato vierge sauce. Make reservations online.
Cost: $129 per person
Regardless of where in the city you may call home, you can find a nearby Duke’s Grocery for a good time on NYE. The Foggy Bottom location is hosting a New Year's Eve Party featuring an appetizer buffet and performances from DC's very own Rock Creek Kings, while Dupont Circle will celebrate New Year's Eve not once, but twice, with a complimentary Champagne toast at 7:00 pm (when it’s midnight in London), as well as midnight here in the states.
Cost: Tickets start at $75 for the Foggy Bottom party; no tickets required for Dupont Circle location
At Blue Duck Tavern, you can indulge in a four-course dinner menu that begins with an amuse-bouche of cauliflower with uni and osetra caviar and steak tartar with marrow soubise, pain perdu, and quail egg. First- and second-course offerings include scallops with Berkshire pork belly, butter-poached lobster, and carrot cavatelli. Entrees are even more decadent if you can believe it, with wood-oven roasted pheasant and wagyu coulotte, and end your night with either a vanilee brulee or a stout espresso pot de creme.
Cost: $195 per person
The newly opened La Bise, located just steps from the White House, will be offering modern, seasonal interpretations of classic French fare on New Year’s Eve. The four-course, prix-fixe menu is priced at $90 per person, excluding gratuity and tax, and will be served from 5 to 10 pm on New Year’s Eve.
Cost: $90 per person
DC is home to some pretty incredible Indian restaurants, and many are offering impressive spreads to celebrate the holiday. Rasika’s locations in Penn Quarter and the West End will be offering a three-course, prix-fixe menus available for in-house dining, carryout, and delivery this New Year’s. The meal starts off with appetizers like achari shrimp with pickling spices, cashew nuts, and filo pastry and the main course includes the option to try the restaurant’s signature pork chop vindaloo with duroc pork chop, peri-peri masala, and pearl onions. Meanwhile, The Bombay Club will serve a festive four-course menu prepared by executive chef Nilesh Singhvi. Finally, Bindaas, with two locations in the District, will present guests with a fiery celebration that showcases Indian street food.
Cost: Varies based on location
Bring out your artistic side
If you’re looking to close out 2021 by getting in touch with your artistic side, head on over to Joe’s Palette for a New Year’s Eve paint ‘n sip event that comes complete with a free cocktail. The event will take place at Ocean Lounge, and you’ll walk away with a masterpiece (especially considering that canvases come pre-stenciled).
Cost: $40 per person
If you don’t want to make it all the way to midnight (we feel you), then head over to Primrose, where they’re celebrating New Year's Eve on Paris time with a ticketed party that includes an open bar and heavy appetizers. The event kicks off at 5 pm and runs until 10 pm, with a Champagne toast when the clock strikes midnight in Paris (which is only 6 pm for us in the District!).
Cost: $150 per person
For the most stylish among us, there’s a gala for you. The sixth annual Mellon Gala at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium gives you a chance to support local nonprofits and enjoy a night of elegance. A ticket includes a top-shelf open bar for five hours, passed hor d’oeuvres, a celebrity DJ, and professional photographers.
Cost: Tickets start at $119
For fun on the water, check out a Gatsby-themed NYE party aboard the Spirit of Washington Yacht. The event features four decks where you can mingle, an open bar for the duration of the three-hour cruise, and a dinner buffet. Plus, you’ll get stunning views of Washington Harbor and DC’s annual fireworks show.
Cost: Tickets start at $199
Jazz fans will delight at the Kennedy Center’s farewell to the year, which features three masters of jazz: Afro-Cuban pianist Chucho Valdes, Grammy-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves, and saxophone royalty, Joe Lovano. The concert hall is hosting two shows, at 7 and 9 pm, and you can stick around afterward for dancing and a countdown to 2022, complete with a balloon drop.
Cost: Tickets start at $79
Enjoy a staycation with an award-winning restaurant
If you want to get out of the city for NYE, head on over to the Wildset Hotel in St. Michaels, Maryland for a quick getaway. The on-site restaurant, Ruse, will be hosting a special NYE dinner that you can enjoy before cozying up in the comforts of your room for a chill start to 2022.
Have a legitimately cheesy NYE celebration
There’s no better way to celebrate the end of 2021 than with bubbling pots of cheesy fondue. Stable, the only Swiss restaurant in DC, is serving a festive meal centered around warm, bubbly pots of their signature fondue. A fondue prix-fixe menu features a glass of Simonet Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine; a choice of appetizer; Stable’s signature fondue in traditional, pear schnapps-spiked, or Belper Knolle varieties; and a choice of dessert. Reservations can be made online.
Cost: Starts at $27 per person
Stop by one of The Wharf’s best rooftops
No ticket? No problem. If you didn’t plan ahead this year, Officina’s dazzling multi-story Wharf location will offer an array of festive experiences throughout the evening—and none of them require a ticket. The Terrazza, or rooftop, will be open from 5 pm to 2 am, with a live DJ spinning beats all evening. Guests can come and go as they please, but reservations for the rest of the restaurant can be made online.
dLeña will be offering a five-course dinner on NYE, with menu standouts including grilled wagyu guacamole, crab cake tostada, carnitas duck confit, and mezcal tres leches. You can add on a beverage pairing, and after you’ve had your fill, enjoy live music downstairs at dLeña ROJA from 9 pm to 2 am with a complimentary midnight toast.
Cost: $140 per person