Who says family time and New Year’s Eve (NYE) fun have to be separate things? Many adults opt to make NYE a grown-ups-only event as a date night our outing to a restaurant, club, or house party. But some families prefer to ring in the new year together, singing Auld Lang Syne, letting the kids stay up late for the countdown to midnight, and enjoying some bubbly, whether it’s champagne,sparkling cider, or both! Below are fun ways to celebrate the New Year with the whole family, including daytime events on Dec. 31, evening events on New Year’s Eve, ideas for parties at home, and even activities to start the new year 2020 on a healthy note!
Our annual list below includes (see details/links below):
- Daytime celebrations
- Races and fun runs
- Outdoor evening festivals on New Year’s Eve
- Indoor daytime and evening fun
- PLUS: ideas for at-home parties and Jan. 1 hikes and races!
NEW YEAR’S EVE EVENTS IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA – December 31, 2019
The following events are either kid-oriented or all-ages, family friendly events. Some are free and some charge a fee and may require registration in advance. Because the bigger festivals are outdoors, some of the activities may be weather-dependent. As always, in case of inclement weather, check the official websites and social media channels of the organization for updates; as we we hear any news, we will try to post them on our Fairfax Family Fun Facebook page as well.
New Year’s Around the World at Children’s Science Center
Celebrate the New Year early at the Children’s Science Center Lab at Fair Oaks Mall with a daytime celebration. Ring in 2020 in STEM style with kid-engineered noisemakers and confetti throwers. Choose from one of three two-hour time slots between 10 am and 6 pm; admission fees apply.
Annual Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Party at Jammin’ Java
Award-winning, fun-loving, local kids’ band Rocknoceros invites you to celebrate the new year at Jammin’ Java! The annual New Year’s Eve party (two shows) at the café/music club in Vienna features a countdown and apple juice toast! General-admission tickets are $10 for everyone age 1 and older for either the 11 am show or the second show at 2 pm.
Fairfax Four Miler
End the year with an invigorating twilight run! The City of Fairfax hosts an annual family-friendly running event on Dec. 31. The four-mile race through Old Town Fairfax is an all-ages event and starts at 6 pm. Registration starts at $43. Participants enjoy a post-race pizza party and get a cozy sweatshirt.
New Year’s Eve in London
You can keep the kids “out all night” — when you’re pretending to be in a different time zone! Bowl America in Burke is setting its clocks ahead five hours to correspond with London time. From 5-8 pm, for one price enjoy unlimited three hours of bowling, plus music, party foods, party favors, a toast at “midnight,” and more. There is a later session, too.
Falls Church Watch Night
Ring in the new year with the annual family-friendly and free New Year’s Eve “Watch Night” in the City of Falls Church, an event named after the ancient African tradition of “watching” in the new year. The all-night event (7 pm to midnight) features indoor/outdoor activities and kids’ entertainment includes magicians, storytelling, face painting, and a moon bounce. Children, teenagers and adults can show their skills on the karaoke stage or at digital dance revolution. PLUS: multiple live bands, an orchestra, a DJ, fire pits for warmth, and free popcorn, hot chocolate, and soup (while supplies last). Also check out the inflatables caricaturist, balloon artists, and restaurants that will be open for business and stay for the lowering of the historic star that first lit the Falls Church sky in 1948. FREE admission, free parking, and free shuttle buses!
First Night Alexandria
This annual family-oriented, non-alcohol New Year’s Eve celebration throughout Old Town Alexandria is a big,all-day event (1 pm to midnight ) with 100 live performances at 18 indoor venues (alcohol-free) throughout the city, plus children’s entertainment, moon bounces, story times, face painting, interactive games, and even some pet-friendly activities. And the midnight finale includes a spectacular a fireworks show along the waterfront! Entry is by badges ($30 online through Dec. 30; prices go up after that to $35). Kids under 12 and active-duty military are free.
First Night Winchester
Further out, but a good option for a big celebration or overnight “staycation” — this is the largest, family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration in the Shenandoah Valley. It’s a non-alcoholic, budget-friendly, and safe celebration for all ages, with activities taking place at various locations al located right in downtown Winchester. The non-profit event includes music, dancing, arts and crafts, magic, comedy, and more entertainment, plus food and other vendors. The all-day celebration kicks off at 10 am on December 31 and culminates at midnight with the Apple Drop and a fireworks display. Admission, which covers all activities, is $10 for anyone ages 10 and up and free to kids younger than 10.
Whether you have a young infant, can’t stand crowds, don’t want to keep the kids out late, or just don’t want to be out in cold weather, fear not — you can have a fun, kid-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration at home! It can be as simple as staying home and watching the Times Square ball drop, but why not kick it up a notch? Check out the Fairfax Family Fun New Year’s Eve Pinterest board for kid-friendly New Year’s Eve crafts, foods, and activities. The site includes ideas for festive food and drinks, free printables, fun decor, games, crafts for kids and adults, and neat ideas to create and preserve family memories.
NEW YEAR’S DAY EVENTS – January 1, 2020
For many families, New Year’s Day is a time to relax at home, sleeping in late and taking it as easy as possible, or maybe heading to a casual brunch. But if you want to start the new year on an active, energizing, and revitalizing note, take advantage of the fitness events available, from 5K races to free hikes at local, state, and national parks.
First Day Hike at Mason Neck State Park
Start the new year off right with a First Day Hike! First Day Hikes at state parks offer families a way to start the new year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike. Mason Neck State Park in Lorton will celebrate with a series of guided hikes (at 10 am, 12:15 pm, and 2 pm), that will take visitors to some of the more iconic views at the park, and do a little bit of bird watching along the way; you may even get to see one of their famous bald eagles! This is also a free entrance day at the park. You can bring the whole family, since Mason Neck is a dog-friendly park.
First Day Hike at Wolf Trap
Put on your hiking boots and warm clothes and grab a water bottle to head to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna. The park also hosts a First Day Hike, with two options: a 1.5-mile hike or a 3-mile one, both ed by volunteers from Friends of Wolf Trap National Park.
First Hike Fairfax
Fairfax County Park Authority also celebrates the First Hike day with expanded hike options and photo contest prizes. Just visit any Fairfax County Park Authority trail on January 1, 2019, explore, take some photos, and enter the organization’s photography contest to win prizes, including a “People’s Choice” award and park passes.
First Day Hike Neabsco Boardwalk
Stroll along the picturesque new Neabsco Board Walk (it opened just in 2019!) to get great views of the wetlands. This event at Neabsco Regional Park involves a circuit hike of about two and a half miles, and will include the Neabsco boardwalk. The free event is sponsored by Prince William Soil & Water Conservation District.
Reston New Year’s Day 5K
Kick off the New Year in style at the New Year’s Day 5K at the Reston Town Center! With a race start time of 10 am, there’s still time to sleep in a bit after ringing in the New Year! The run will start and finish at Reston Town Center and will cover a picturesque route. There will be music, food, and fun celebration following the race. Registration is $35.
Commitment Day 5K
Register today for the New Year’s Day 5K Fun Run & Walk PLUS a weekend filled with festivities, sponsored by the Life Time Fitness Foundation. This four-day event — dedicated to helping people embrace healthier, happier, more active lives — kicks off across the country on New Year’s Day with a Commitment Day 5K fun run in more than 50 locations, including one in Reston. The race begins at 10 am.