When it comes to family-events in Northern Virginia, these are a few of our favorites.
There is no shortage of must-do annual events in Northern Virginia that cater to the whole family. This wasn’t an easy list to put together, but these are the five events we think are worth revisiting year after year.
Part county fair, part neighborhood festival, Celebrate Fairfax!, a summer event held in the Fairfax Government Center parking lot, includes carnival rides, a doughnut-eating contest and big-name headlining musical acts (Smash Mouth and Better Than Ezra took the stage in June). For kids 12 and under, Inova Children’s Hospital Avenue has a petting zoo, kiddie rides and a robotic village. // 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax; adult tickets from $10, kids 3-11 from $4
Wolf Trap – Summer Blast Off!
It’s not really summer in Northern Virginia until you’ve spent some time on a picnic blanket on the lawn, watching a show at Wolf Trap. The performing arts national park offers a number of family-friendly options throughout the season (this month, for example, the National Symphony Orchestra accompanies a showing of the nostalgic film E.T. the Extra-Terrestial on Aug. 2), but we love the annual tradition of Summer Blast Off! on the Sunday evening of Memorial Day weekend. “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band performs a free concert, followed by fireworks. Kids love fireworks. // 1551 Trap Road, Vienna; free
Temple Hall Fall Festival
The 20-acre corn maze is billed as the main attraction, but that’s really only the beginning at this fun fall festival that starts in early September and runs for six weeks. Highlights that kids will love include giant jumping pillows (because, why not?), a cow-shaped train that takes a surprisingly fast spin out in to the corn fields, pumpkin blasters and corn cannons, pig racing, a hay fort for climbing and more. Plus, there’s an overflow of pumpkins to pick from to take home to your front stoop. It doesn’t really feel like fall in Northern Virginia until you make a stop at Temple Hall. // 15855 Limestone School Road, Leesburg; daytime tickets $14 (adults), $11 (kids 3-11 and seniors, 55-plus), kids under 2 free
Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
In a word: dazzling. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens pulls out all the stops to transform its already enchanting grounds into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. The best part? You can walk and push a stroller along the ½-mile path so the whole family can take in the experience. Look for the nature-themed light displays, twinkling lights along the lake and several spots perfect for a family photo. Top off your walk by making s’mores around the fire pit. Winter is here. // 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna; 2019 ticket prices to be announced
First Night Alexandria
Post-kids, the battle to stay up until midnight in a slinky LBD, cocktail in hand, becomes a losing one. First Night Alexandria offers a family-friendly alternative to the traditional New Year’s Eve celebration with live music, a scavenger hunt, open boutiques and midnight fireworks to cap it all off. The always-anticipated event celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It’s a wonderful tradition worth revisiting year after year. // Alexandria; All access badge $35, kids 2-12 free with adult badge