Let’s begin this article with a brief history of New years. The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a new year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the first new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness—heralded the start of a new year. Around the start of the 1900s, New Year’s Eve celebrations in America started to appear. The first Ball drop in Times Square was held in 1907. Around the same time, special events to welcome the New Year started to be organized on January 1. Interestingly, Caesar added 67 days to the year 46 BCE so that the new year in 45 BCE could begin on January 1. The date was chosen to honor the Roman God of beginnings, Janus, who is believed to have two faces- one looking back into the past and the other to the future. Many celebrate New years, you may be wondering why it is so important to many. It is considered pretty important by many as it signifies the beginning. New Year is not just about celebrations and resolutions; it is more than what meets the eye. It symbolizes motivation for many new beginnings. Another new 365-day journey begins with the New Year eve being the first day. Since we have dug up some history of what New Years is and why we have it let’s talk about how you can celebrate the day in Washington DC.
What to do for New Years in DC
Celebrate in Washington DC
There is much to do at the Nation’s Capital, for any time of year! The Holiday season is a special one for Washington DC. With many activities awaiting you and those who come to visit with you. While many businesses are closed on January 1, a surprising number of attractions are open and welcome visitors on the first day of the new year.
Monuments and memorials
This is the perfect time to visit the monuments and memorials, because you will not be running into huge crowds of people, and parking should be no issue either. If you have waited to see the beautiful monuments and memorials now is when you should schedule your visit. Although the most famous monuments and memorials are on the National Mall, you will find statues and plaques on many street corners around the city. Be sure to visit the sites of what you are wanting to visit to ensure that they are open New years eve/day before you go to visit them. Some parts of the National Mall are closed as of December 2020 until further notice. For the most up-to-date list, confirm what’s currently open with the National Park Service.
Mt. Vernon Estate
This is such a nice place to visit, that really takes you back in time. George Washington called this home. This is open every single day of the year, but be sure to check on covid restrictions etc when you are purchasing tickets. Holiday season is a special time to visit this landmark, because they open a third floor that is not normally open and you get a look at what Christmas was like during his time. In the large dining room, even the historic “Great Cake” will be on display—one of Martha Washington’s recipes we have access too. On January 1, 2021, visitors can also take part in a special exhibition commemorating Manumission Day, the anniversary of when Martha Washington freed all of the slaves at Mount Vernon. The exhibit is a one-day special event and is included with your general admission to the estate This is a VERY special day and you should clear the day to take it all in.
U.S Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens is also open all year long, so you know you will be able to visit during the holidays. The holiday exhibit “Seasons Greetings” will still be up and on display when you visit so you will get to enjoy a little extra Christmas Sprit. It features unique model trains and incredible replicas of Washington, D.C.’s most famous buildings and monuments. One of the best parts is this is FREE! Unfortunately this means it will be a little more crowded and if you are wanting to visit you should schedule your visit for earlier in the day to be sure you will not be stuck in crowds. As of December 2020, the Conservatory and National Garden sections of the U.S. Botanical Garden are closed until further notice. The only parts that are open for New Year’s Day 2021 are Bartholdi Park and the Terrace Gardens.
Arlington National Cemetery
Here you will see that more than 250,000 American Service members are laid to rest, as well as many famous Americans. This is 612 acres of cemetery of some well known heroes of our time. What a great time to visit them and honor them than during the holiday season. Some of the names you will walk by that will ring a bell that you will be familiar with are presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Robert Kennedy. This is a very peaceful calm place to visit that leaves you thankful for all those before you that changed the world. Some parts of the cemetery are closed as of December 2020 until further notice, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Memorial Amphitheater.
Take a Hike
Washington DC holds a lot of beauty within nature that you can enjoy on your visit to the Nations capital. Depending on the weather of course, which Washington DC does not have very harsh winters luckily. Most public parks are open on the holiday, although some may close their entrance gates so make sure your local park is open before you visit. Parks in Washington, D.C., that are open on New Year’s Day 2021 include the National Mall and Rock Creek Park. There are scenic state parks across Maryland, but the closest one to D.C. is Seneca State Park in Gaithersburg. You can also travel a bit farther to some of the city parks around Baltimore, such as Patterson Park. The Virginia Parks include the Mount Vernon Trail, an 18.5-mile trail running along the Potomac River, paralleling the George Washington Memorial Parkway leading to Mount Vernon.
Capitol Express Tours; Bringing in the New Year
Capitol Express Tours is available year round to make visiting Washington DC a little less hectic for you. They are ready to answer all of your questions that only the locals can answer, and they know where to visit so you can avoid large crowds during the holiday season. Book your guided tour today to start your holidays off in DC the right way!