First Night Alexandria

First Night Alexandria

Celebrating 25 Years of the Family-Friendly, New Year's Eve Celebration

Story by Alexandria Lindstrom

Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s…2019…

While perhaps not quite so epic as the end of a century, the close of a decade is still one that commands great excitement as the clock counts down toward midnight and everyone bids farewell to the old and welcomes the new. And as the very last seconds of 2019 tick down toward the first moments of 2020, the city of Alexandria will celebrate in a big way with First Night Alexandria and all of the festivities it brings.

Now in its 25th year, First Night Alexandria offers a plethora of activities and performances designed to appeal to people of all ages. It is a cultural arts and entertainment event that provides an alternative to the traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations by hosting various performers, acts, and musicians all over town and welcoming everyone to take part.

“First Night Alexandria is an evening of entertainment that is safe and fun, family-friendly, affordable, and alcohol-free and that showcases and supports the performing and visual arts,” said Marilyn Patterson, executive director of First Night Alexandria, Inc. “By providing a variety of music genres and interactive events, we’re able to introduce the public to a diverse range of performers and broaden their cultural experiences. Additionally, through the collaborative support of churches, museums, retail establishments, libraries, private clubs, buildings and offices, recreation centers, city-owned facilities, theaters, and hotels, doors are opened as these locations become venues to enjoy artistic expression.”

And that artistic expression is both wide and diverse in its variety and appeal, including jazz groups, magicians, comedians, and rock bands. All evening long, Old Town will run with contagious energy and fun, drawing an estimated 10,000 guests to experience the excitement and fall in love with the natural charms of this wonderful city. “There are close to 50 performers and artists curated to deliver this uniquely Alexandria experience, and that’s the kind of excitement and fun that attracts huge crowds to our city, which is wonderful for our local economy. It also shows off what makes Alexandria so special as a community,” Patterson said.

Perfect for the younger set are four Kids Karnivals, featuring costumed personalities, face painters, interactive activities, and a creatively engaging New Year’s countdown in Old Town, Parker-Gray, Del Ray, and the West End. For teens with big dreams of stardom, the First Night’s Got Talent Teen Talent Showcase is the perfect place to show off some skills.

And music lovers of all ages will have their pick of great performances to choose from, no matter their favorite genre. Among those featured at the George Washington Masonic Memorial are the wildly popular Earth Wind and Fire Tribute Band, while the Torpedo Factory Art Center will pair up The Grandsons and Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun for performances that will liven up the night and keep things rocking toward midnight. Whether you’re in the mood for big band music, go for something more mellow, or even want to get your folk on, this is a festival that celebrates it all and welcomes new ears to hear.

Truly, the lineup of talent for the event is impressive, almost nonstop in its offerings of things to see and do, both on-stage and off. Between acts, indulge in food truck fare to keep the munchies at bay, then burn off some calories while you laugh until you cry at the Pop Up Comedy Showcase at Shiloh Baptist Church, where you’ll be treated to six hilarious comedians delivering their best material. For those who love a good show, magician Mike Rose will keep his audience enthralled with spectacular tricks at George Washington Masonic Memorial.

No great party would be complete without dancing, and First Night Alexandria is no exception. Beginning at 10 p.m., the city will bust a move with the Rockin’ on the River dance party in the park, culminating at midnight with a breathtaking fireworks display on the Potomac River sponsored by MGM National Harbor.

With so much energy and anticipation in the air, it’s almost impossible not to get swept up in the spirit, and to feel the expectation that comes on the precipice of a new year filled with endless possibility. And as 2019 becomes 2020, First Night Alexandria celebrates that possibility to its fullest extent, reveling in every last moment of a great year. This last night of the year is becoming the first of a new one… and that’s definitely a reason to party!

For more information on ticket sales, entertainment, and showtimes, visit

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