Washington Area New Year's Eve Parties

By Fritz Hahn
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, December 5, 2008

If you haven't made New Year's Eve plans yet, it might be a good idea to get started today. Event tickets are getting more expensive by the minute.

On the Clarendon Ballroom's Web site, for example, prices for the semiformal New Year's Eve event are listed as "subject to change." The current cost ($85) is printed in black, while future increases ($95, $105, $115) are visible in light-gray lettering, like ghosts yet to fully materialize.

Dave Lindenauer, whose group Lindy Promotions will host a party for more than 3,000 people at Washington's Grand Hyatt hotel, says that on "New Year's Eve, more than any other holiday, people procrastinate. And people who wait until the last second pay more. It's like airline tickets or hotel rooms."

Tickets for his Downtown Countdown went up by $10 Tuesday, hitting $129 for five hours of open bar, a dinner buffet, three bands, DJs, comedians and karaoke spread over several hotel ballrooms. The price will rise five more times before New Year's Eve, eventually reaching $179.

"It's supply and demand. We want to sell enough at a low price so people commit early," Lindenauer explains.

Patrick Barton is president of the Party DC group, which is organizing Big Night D.C. at the new Gaylord National hotel at National Harbor. He says the tickets are sold in blocks. A certain number sell for $109, and once those are sold, the next group goes for $139, then $159 and beyond. "We know from the past that we sell the most tickets at one price, so we have more at that price," Barton says.

It's not just the big-time hotel parties that warn you to buy now or pay more later. At the Reef, a three-story Adams Morgan bar offering unlimited drinks, hors d'oeuvres and DJs, tickets sell for $125 before Dec. 15 and $150 after, an arbitrary divide owner Brian Harrison says is "just to encourage early ticket sales."

Not that it really matters: The Reef's party sells out every year, generally before Christmas.

Here's a round-up of major parties with advance ticket sales:

Big Night D.C.

Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., Oxon Hill. $119 and up, 703-251-4800 or

A move to the new Gaylord National has tripled Big Night D.C.'s space, allowing 16 themed party areas for about 6,000 guests. Six bands, including Carbon Leaf, Mr. Greengenes and Dr. Fu are performing. DJs, topped by Clarendon Ballroom favorite Pat Premier, spin in the "Retro Ballroom," "Hip Hop Room," etc. Mock casino gambling and karaoke are also available. Tickets include full open bar and food. $179 VIP tickets allow access to additional areas and top-shelf liquor. Dress is creative black tie optional.

Clarendon Ballroom New Year's Eve Gala

Clarendon Ballroom, 3185 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $85 and up, 703-469-2244 ($3.50 charge for phone orders), or at the Ballroom.

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