McLean Day is just around the corner.
The annual outdoor festival will return for a 108th year this Saturday (May 20), bringing amusement rides, live music, food and carnival games to Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Started in 1915 as a school and community fundraiser, McLean Day has taken place at Lewinsville Park since 1988 and draws as many as 10,000 people throughout the day each year, according to the McLean Community Center (MCC), which produces the event.
Like last year, the rides will open ahead of the full festival on Friday (May 19) from 2-10 p.m. Wristbands for unlimited rides are on sale now for $20, a $5 discount from on-site ticket purchases.
Performances will be held throughout Saturday on a main community stage and a more kid-oriented juggler’s stage. The community stage will feature singing, dance and theater, per MCC’s website:
- 11 a.m. — Art in Motion (MCC’s youth dance class participants)
- 12:50 p.m. — Noah Asher (low-key covers and originals)
- 1:10 p.m. — Hull (alternative rock band)
- 1:40 p.m. — Unruly Theatre Project, The Alden’s professional teen improv group
- 2:20 p.m. — Minahil Ishaq (singer-songwriter)
- 2:50 p.m. — Kiril French (Broadway and pop solos)
- 3 p.m. — Teen Character Awards
- 3:20 p.m. — Kiril French (Broadway tunes and pop solos)
- 3:45 p.m. — Hull (alternative rock band)
The McLean Citizens Association, which organizes the Teen Character Awards, shared last week that this year — the 25th annual ceremony — will have four honorees:
- Alex Abraham: a junior at McLean High School who volunteers at the food bank Share of McLean and runs an annual coat drive for the Virginia Hospital Center
- Sebastian Herbolsheimer: a senior at Langley High School who volunteers as an EMT for the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department and serves as junior assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 1916
- Kasim Khapra: a sophomore at the Potomac School who founded the nonprofit MyPy Coding, which provides free, online coding classes to students in second through eighth grade
- Tatum King: a junior at McLean High School who volunteers for McLean Little League’s Challenger division, a baseball program for kids with physical and mental disabilities
As usual, McLean Day will also have a voting booth where residents can cast ballots in person for MCC’s governing board election. This year, there are five adults and 10 teens campaigning for three adult and two teen seats on the 11-member board.
Other noteworthy activities include laser tag, rock-climbing walls, a petting zoo, beachball corral, an activity called Bubble Ball, a magician and various costumed characters.
No parking will be available at Lewinsville Park, so Fairfax Connector will provide free shuttles from the McLean Metro station and three satellite locations: McLean Baptist Church (1367 Chain Bridge Road), McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue) and Redeemer Lutheran Church (1545 Chain Bridge Road).
All of the shuttles will run from 10:25 a.m. through 6 p.m., according to MCC.
Mid-spring is evidently the season to get a taste of restaurants around Fairfax County.
For those who didn’t fill up on samplers from this past weekend’s festivals in Vienna and Annandale, Tysons Corner Center will launch its own “Taste of” celebration to promote restaurants at the mall on Saturday (May 6).
Held from 1-4 p.m. on the Plaza, the first annual Taste of Tysons Corner Center will feature samples from over 40 eateries, a beer garden from Barrel & Bushel, cooking demonstrations, and live entertainment.
The full schedule from a media alert:
1-2PM: Tour Tysons Corner Center for a “Taste Of” 40+ participating restaurants.
- Check in at the Tysons Corner tent on The Plaza for your “Passport to Delicious: Eatery Guide”.
- Get your Passport stamped at every sampling table to be entered to win the Grand Prize (Nespresso VertuoPlus machine and $200 Eddie V’s gift card).
- Enjoy the music of Under The Covers Band live on The Plaza stage.
2-3PM: Cooking Demos and Chef Appearances on The Plaza from:
- Barrel & Bushel’s (and Hyatt Regency Tysons Corner’s) Executive Chef Daron Lee
- Seasons 52’s Executive Chef Partner Matt Beverley
- Nordstrom Ebar Manager Kris Kozosky
- Shake Shack: Shake-making with General Manager Sam Posey
- Wasabi: Sushi Rolling 101 with Alex Lee
3-4PM: So Fetch will perform live on The Plaza stage.
There will also be a photo booth and a tent for a “Spin the Wheel” game with restaurant gift cards as the prizes.
While the overall event is free, there’s a VIP lounge with a complimentary oyster bar and tuna tartar from Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, food and alcohol tastings from Seasons 52, and a build-your-own-taco bar from La Sandia.
Tickets to the VIP lounge cost $25, with all proceeds going to the nonprofit Food for Others.
A full list of the participating restaurants can be found on the mall’s website.
Taste of Vienna has reached the decade mark.
The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department’s annual fundraiser will shine a spotlight on local restaurants for a 10th year this Saturday (April 29) from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. — coincidentally the same day as Taste of Annandale’s comeback.
First launched in April 2012, the Town of Vienna festival had a successful return last year after a two-year hiatus during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As one of the earliest of the spring festivals each year, the Taste of Vienna always has a great turn out and 2022 was no exception,” said Taste of Vienna Chair Reagan Clyne with the VVFD. “The weather was perfect and after two years of the pandemic, everyone was eager to be outside and together once again enjoying a beloved local event.”
According to Clyne, the 2022 Taste of Vienna raised nearly $20,000 for the volunteer fire department, which will use the funds to buy a new fire engine and support its general operations, including other events.
Located in the VVFD back parking lot at 400 Center Street South, the 2023 festival has lined up 27 food and non-alcoholic beverage vendors, including five food trucks. Also featured will be a beer and wine tent with Caboose Brewery, Dynasty Brewing Company, Vienna Vinter and Norm’s Beer & Wine.
There will be a bounce house and face painting to keep kids entertained throughout the day, along with family-friendly live music:
- 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. — Five Leaf Clovers
- 12:30-1:45 p.m. — Duck Chuck Goose
- 2-3:15 p.m. — Gunsmoke and Cheap Perfume
- 3:30-4:45 p.m. — (After)Math
- 5-6:15 p.m. — Orbiting Zero
- 6:30-8 p.m. — The Coozies
The overall event is free, but tickets for the alcohol tent and the bounce house will cost $30 and $7, respectively.
Clyne notes that Taste of Vienna is always held regardless of the weather. The fire department hopes that this year’s event will beat last year’s fundraising total.
“We are aiming to exceed that total this year and we have a great lineup that will help us do just that,” Clyne said.
Annandale will close out April by resurrecting its annual celebration of food, diversity and local businesses after four dormant years.
The Taste of Annandale will return next week for the first time since COVID-19 emerged, taking over Tom Davis Drive on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The festival was last held in the fall of 2019, when it drew over 5,000 attendees, according to Annandale Today editor Ellie Ashford, a volunteer member of the Taste of Annandale Planning Committee.
“This will be the first Taste of Annandale since fall 2019,” Ashford said. “After a break due to the pandemic, it’s great to be able to be back with a big event celebrating a diverse, vibrant community.”
First held in 2015, the festival was created by the volunteer nonprofit Annandale-Mason Roundtable, which emerged out of a series of community forums on diversity organized in 2010 and 2011 by Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services with support from the police department.
After getting canceled in 2020 and 2021, Taste of Annandale was set to make its comeback last fall until organizers announced in June that they had decided to postpone the event to this spring because work conflicts limited the participation of key planning committee members.
Organizers are confident that next week’s festivities will be worth the extra wait.
“This year’s event promises to be even bigger and better,” Ashford said.
According to the website, about 14 restaurants and food trucks have signed up for the 2023 Taste of Annandale, though the deadline for vendors and sponsors was today (Thursday). Caboose Brewing Company, which has locations in Vienna and Merrifield, will host a beer garden.
The festival will also feature live music and other entertainment, activities for kids, a best-dressed pet contest, the Taste of Annandale 5K, and a chili cook-off between the Mason Police Department and the Annandale Volunteer Fire Department.
Registration for the 5K is still open. The race will begin at 9:30 a.m. at 4251 John Marr Drive.
Other highlights include raffles with a basket of locally sold items, a restored 1966 Mustang, and a shirt signed by D.C. United manager and former English soccer star Wayne Rooney as prizes. Proceeds from the Rooney shirt raffle, sponsored by the gym RAMP (7232 Columbia Pike), will go to the Annandale Volunteer Fire Department.
The overall festival will benefit local youth art programs, including a George Mason University initiative that encourages high school students to “use art and poetry to promote community engagement,” per the Taste of Annandale website.
A three-decade-old Jewish film and music festival is coming to Fairfax for the first time next month.
The JxJ Festival, an arts festival set to run May 11 to May 21 dedicated to showcasing Jewish culture, is broadening its reach for the first time after years of being exclusively in D.C. venues.
That includes screening films at Cinema Arts at 9650 Main Street inside Fair City Mall in Fairfax City.
Artistic Director Yael Luttwak told FFXnow that the festival wanted to include a Northern Virginia venue in its lineup this year because the area has the D.C. region’s largest Jewish population. And the long history of Cinema Arts as a community movie theater fits perfectly into the festival’s ethos.
“We chose Cinema Arts because it’s a fantastic arts movie theater and it felt like the right home to share these exceptional art house films and more mainstream films that you can’t see anywhere else,” she said.
Seven films will play at the theater starting on May 18 and through May 21, including a mix of narrative features and documentaries:
- The Wild One on Thursday, May 18 at 6 p.m.
- Exodus 91 on Thursday, May 18 at 8 p.m.
- The Seven Years of Absalon on Saturday, May 20 at 6 p.m.
- The Other Widow on Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m.
- Kosher Rehab on Sunday, May 21 at 1:20 p.m.
- The Camera of Dr. Morris on Sunday, May 21 at 2:50 p.m.
- Schächten on Sunday, May 21 at 4:30 p.m.
Several of these films, including “Kosher Rehab,” will only play at Cinema Arts, Luttwak said. The documentary tells the story of young religious men struggling with addiction in Israel.
“Kosher Rehab is about recovery and there is actually a lot of recovery centers and places in Fairfax. So, I thoughtfully put that there,” she said. “In this case, it’s about ultra-Orthodox Jews who are former addicts living together in a house. It’s gritty and brilliant, and [we] hope that it would also help some people.”
The Washington Jewish Film Festival was first established in 1990, while the Washington Jewish Music Festival began in 1999. In 2019, the two area arts festivals became one as the JxJ Festival.
Festival highlights this year include the mid-Atlantic premiere of director Jake Paltrow’s “June Zero“, Israel’s box office hit “Matchmaking,” and the documentary “Closed Circuit” with a conversation afterward moderated by CNN’s Dana Bash.
Luttwak said all of the performances and films over the 10-day-long festival starting next month are connected in the way they help tell the story of Jewish culture.
“I think the connective tissue is not Judaism, per se. That’s complicated because [Judaism] means a lot of different things to lots of different folks. It’s Jewish culture,” she said. “Culture is the soul of who we are and our storytelling is the soul of who we are. And these stories have an incredible ability and impact to educate, inspire, and enlighten.”
The sun will shine into the night this Saturday (March 25), as the McLean Community Center hosts its first-ever Fiesta del Sol.
The inaugural celebration of Latin American and Caribbean cultures will kick off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4:45 p.m. before the doors at 1234 Ingleside Avenue open 15 minutes later.
According to a media advisory, anticipated ribbon-cutting attendees include county officials, MCC staff, and representatives of Latin American and Caribbean embassies, businesses and nonprofits in the area.
MCC partnered with Stafford-based VIP Impressions Event Planning to organize the festival, which will have live music, food, drinks, and local business and artisan vendors until 9 p.m.
“We are looking forward to a super fun evening with a Latin beat,” MCC Special Events Manager Catherine Nesbitt said in a press release. “We will celebrate the cultural wonders of Latin American and Caribbean traditions through live music, dancing, great food and art.”
Admission to the festival is free, but tickets will be sold on-site for food and beverages, including alcohol for those 21 and older. Prices will range from $5 to $15 per item.
The tapas menu comes from Pikoteo, a Latin American eatery that recently opened in the former TAV Mediterranean Bistro spot at 6811 Elm Street.
Proceeds from the festival will go to The Institute for Building Agency, a nonprofit that provides civics education and training to people of color. The woman-led organization was chosen as the beneficiary in honor of Women’s History Month, according to MCC.
Here’s more from the community center on the evening’s scheduled performers:
Following a ribbon cutting and official opening of the event at 4:45 p.m., the festival kicks off with Salsa Guy Richmond, who will offer a demonstration of basic bachata, salsa and merengue dance steps. He will present a demonstration 20 minutes before each band performance. D.C.-based DJ Leo will work his magic to keep the party going. Laura Sosa and the Pa’Gozar Latin band will perform bachata, a form of Dominican music, at 5:30 p.m. Originally from Peru, lead singer, Laura Sosa, has created a band that emulates the rich and varied music of South America and the Caribbean. These talented musicians and excellent vocalists are sure to get patrons on the dance floor.
At 6:30 p.m., Izis, La Enfermera de la Salsa performs. Originally from Puerto Rico, Izis is now a nurse in the United States Army, where she has served for 15 years. The band recently released a new Christmas album, “My Favorite Things,” that features a salsa beat. Pablo Antonio and La Firma rounds out the evening with a performance at 8 p.m. Originally from El Salvador, Pablo Antonio began performing at age 10 in Arlington. His band generates a celebration of merengue that has won fans nationally and internationally.
The Rotary Club of McLean will peer back into the colonial era this weekend for its 11th annual chocolate festival.
Set to return this Sunday (Jan. 29), the McLean Chocolate Festival will feature a colonial America chocolate-making demonstration, along with vendors, free entertainment and children’s games. The demo is being presented by American Heritage, a brand of locally headquartered candy maker Mars Inc.
The festival is organized by and serves as a key fundraiser for the rotary club, which uses the proceeds to support local and international charities and educational programs, according to the website.
The 2022 festival, which marked a return after a year off due to Covid, drew 2,500 attendees and raised almost $24,000, the rotary club says.
The following chocolatiers and other vendors will be participating this year:
- Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates
- The Capital Candy Jar
- Le Papiyon Chocolatier
- Soul Good Kitchen
- Chesterbrook Residences
- River-Sea Chocolates
- Arcay Chocolates
- Sugar Mama’s Ice Cream
- Pacari Chocolate
- Lammar Marie’s Gourmet Popcorn
- Tysons Creamery
- My Alfajor
- Artisan Confections
- United Flavors, which sells hand-crafted chocolate bonbons and other sweets
Entertainment options include a talk about the history of chocolate from Mars Inc. chocolate historian Dave Borghesani and music from the J2N2 Project, a Maryland-based flute quartet.
The festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the McLean Community Center (1234 Ingleside Avenue). Admission costs $2, though kids 3 and under can get in for free.
For anyone whose chocolate cravings aren’t sated Sunday, you won’t have to wait even a week for the return of Fairfax City’s Chocolate Lover’s Festival, which will be held Friday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 4.
Photo via American Heritage Chocolate/Unsplash
A local festival celebrating all things chocolatey is making a comeback in the City of Fairfax.
The Chocolate Lovers Festival is scheduled to launch the weekend before Valentine’s Day, running from Friday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 4. This is the first time the festival has been held since the start of the pandemic.
The all-ages event — hosted by the Fairfax City Parks and Recreation Department and local chocolate confectioners — includes goodies to sample like cakes, candies, brownies fudge, ice cream and more.
Admission to the event is free, but tasting requires the purchase of $1 “pogs” to be exchanged with vendors.
“We are extremely excited for the return of this flagship city event,” Parks and Recreation director Stacey Sommerfield said in an email. “We’ve had an outpouring of vendors both old and new who are excited to return. The event will feature new exciting events while once again gathering chocolate lovers from across the region.”
Events include a liquid chocolate demonstration in Old Town Square (10415 North Street), a mock trial at the Historic Fairfax Courthouse (4000 Chain Bridge Road), and a look at the history of chocolate at the Legato School Museum (4117 Chain Bridge Road).
According to organizers, the event will feature the same number of vendors as previous years, with growth limited by the size of Old Town Hall. A shuttle bus, the Chocolate Express, will be available on Saturday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.
Thousands of lanterns will take over Lerner Town Square at Tysons II this winter.
Based in New York City, the Winter Lantern Festival will bring over 10,000 Chinese-style lanterns to Tysons for a nearly two-month stay from Dec. 16 through Feb. 12. This will be its first-ever stop in the D.C. area, the festival announced Wednesday (Nov. 30).
“We are thrilled to debut the Winter Lantern Festival, expand to new locations, introduce all visitors to the beauty of these artisan installations, and have the show become part of the DMV’s cultural holiday tradition,” said Haokun Liu, partner of Kaleido Arts & Entertainment Group, which organizes the annual festival.
Founded in 2018 as New York Events & Entertainment, Kaleido Arts assists companies, nonprofits and others with events that promote “global cross-cultural communication,” according to a press release.
The New York City festival has drawn over 150,000 guests annually over its three years of existence. It’s expanding to five different locations this year, but Tysons is the first and only site outside of New York state.
The outdoor venue at 8025 Galleria Drive, which hosted Cirque du Soleil this summer, will be filled with displays made out of painted lanterns to resemble animals, such as polar bears and penguins, as well as figures out of Chinese myths and legends.
All of the lanterns are handmade by over 100 artists, who fit silk cloth over steel wire frames with LED lights using techniques that date back to the Han dynasty, per the festival website. The displays can reach up to 30 feet in height and will span 60 acres.
“Lantern festivals have been a part of Chinese culture and history for thousands of years, honoring our ancestors and celebrating peace, prosperity, and good fortune,” Liu said.
The festival will also feature interactive light swings, see-saws and tunnels, along with live entertainment and food vendors.
Tickets are now on sale for $31.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids 12 and under, including a $2 service fee. For now, customers can get a 30% discount if they use the code EARLYP.
The festival will generally operate on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, but it will be open daily between Dec. 23 and Jan. 1, 2023. Hours will be 5-10 p.m.
Theoretically, an intrepid day drinker could hit up all three of the Oktoberfest celebrations around the Tysons area scheduled for next weekend.
Provided they have a designated driver or don’t mind quick Uber trips from the Metro: here’s where they’ll be going:
Kicking off a full day of Oktoberfest activities around the Tysons area is Caboose Commons (2918 Eskridge Road). The Merrifield brewpub is launching is “Hoptoberfest” on Saturday, Sept. 17, at around 11 a.m. The celebration will run all day and feature beers from various local breweries.
Shipgarten (7581 Colshire Drive) is launching the same day at 1:15 p.m. The Tysons bar is launching its Oktoberfest on Saturday, Sept. 17, with a ceremonial “tapping of the keg” for a beer imported from Germany. the festival ends at 6 p.m. The festivities will feature over 50 beers from Germany, Austria and the United States.
Nearby, The Boro (8350 Broad Street) is kicking off its Oktoberfest an hour later. The Boro’s Oktoberfest will launch at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, featuring a biergarten, outdoor games, polka music and more. The first 150 guests will receive a free branded stein.
That same day, Cox Farms’ Fall Festival kicks off. The festival opens on Sept. 17 and will be open every weekend (Thursday through Monday) until Tuesday, Nov. 8. The festival features several large slides and a hay ride, among other attractions. The Fall Festival opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., with the last entry one hour before closing, so the theoretical Tysonian might want to visit the Fall Festival before touring the Oktoberfests.
A little later than the others: Vienna’s Oktoberfest is scheduled to return on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. along Church Street. This year, the event is slated to feature two beer and wine gardens, along with a selection of international food, a car show and more.