Come Ring In the New Year at First Night Alexandria

New Year's Eve celebration

Future’s so bright: Make sure you don’t forget your novelty New Year’s glasses. I mean, you don’t want to look like a total weirdo, right?(Ed Yourdon via Flickr)

There are lots of ways to ring in the New Year, and many of them involve drinking.

Well, we here at have found one that doesn’t … and it still looks like fun: First Night Alexandria.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, “First Night revives the ancient traditions of marking the passage of time in a present day context.”

It all began with a group of artists in Boston, Mass., who were looking for “a meaningful alternative to traditional New Year’s Eve revelry in 1976.” Since then, other locations have asked the founding members for assistance in starting their own thing, and Alexandria hopped on that train in 1994.

“Alright,” you’re thinking. “No booze? This better be good.”

[ Related: Old Town: Alexandria’s Historic District a Thriving, Trendy Neighborhood ]

Well, the site says, “Coffee shops, retail stores, hotels, museums and public buildings are turned into performance venues to showcase incredible local and regional talent.”

Well, let’s take a gander at some of this local and regional talent, why don’t we?

  • Mike Rose, “The Magic Kinda Guy,” performs a comedy/magic hybrid, family-friendly show
  • Virginia Bronze rings bells, handbells to be exact. They are “a community-based auditioned handbell ensemble performing a wide range of handbell music including secular, sacred, popular, original and regional pieces.”
  • Storytime with Miss Megan is pretty self-explanatory. “Miss Megan” is from Hooray for Books!, an independent children’s bookstore in Old Town Alexandria.
  • Folsom Prisoners, a Johnny Cash-inspired group, play their honky-tonk and classic country
  • Rose Between Thorns belts out rockabilly, country rock and blues

There are plenty of other musical groups and different performers – a good many of them featuring crowd interaction – appearing at First Night Alexandria. Here is a schedule of events, all taking place in Old Town Alexandria, and here is a map of event locations.

As you can see on the events page, they’ve come up with a nifty use of icons to tell you which event involves music, comedy, is kid-friendly, etc.

And if you’re up to it, you can boogie in the New Year at the Lawn Dance Party, which features a DJ.

There is also the Fun Hunt, a scavenger hunt taking place from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on December 31. There will be three grand prizes drawn for participants who finish.

To gain admission to participating venues, those 13 and older need to purchase a badge, which costs $15 if you pick up one before December 18, $20 after. Kids 12 and under get in free but must be accompanied by an adult with a badge.

All this badge talk is making me think Old Town has really gotten old, like Wild West old. Fear not, for it’s safe to say there’ll be iPods, iPads, iPhones and i-everything else on hand helping ring in 2012 (and hopefully no Colt Single Action Army Revolvers or cattle rustlers).

[ Related: National History, Washington’s Wallpaper on Display in Mount Vernon ]

The show goes on rain or shine – not to mention snow, sleet and maybe even hail or unseen natural disaster. Premier sponsors for the event include the City of Alexandria, the Alexandria Commission for the Arts and the Alexandria Marketing Fund.

Specials on food and accommodations will be added as they come in. (And as with any event, always check the site for the most current information.)

Either way, there are plenty of restaurants surrounding the venues at First Night Alexandria. And yes, all of you who want to pound the alcohol can certainly do that in those same restaurants or bars in Old Town. So during your night of drunken revelry, why not hit some of these performances? You can always weave your way in and out, mix and match.

Then you can weave your way back to the King Street Metro station on the Blue/Yellow Line and go home.

Of course, if you already rent a place in Old Town, depending on the location of your home, you can weave on back to the apartment you hopefully found through us at Apartment Showcase. 

To all those reading this blog (and even to those who haven’t yet had the pleasure), Happy New Year!

Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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