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Year-Round Festivities

There’s no excuse for not enjoying yourself on a daily basis around here.

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Hoops at Lewinsville Park.

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Festival goers get their faces painted at last year’s McLean Day.

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Get a taste of Ireland at the Old Brogue Irish Pub in Great Falls.

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The Great Falls Spring Festival of May 2008 included a car show, games and rides for children, a raffle, hay rides, a treasure hunt, musical performances and many other activities.

The following is the first of four installments on 101 diversions in McLean, Great Falls and the surrounding area. More to come in the following weeks.

FESTIVALS

Renew the Dream

Martin Luther King Celebration

McLean Community Center

1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean

703-790-0123

McLean’s sixth annual Martin Luther King Celebration to be held Sunday, Jan. 18, from 3 to 5 p.m., at the McLean Community Center, will include a guest speaker, live musical entertainment and a barbecue dinner. The master of ceremonies will be the Rev. Dr. Robert Cheeks Jr., pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in McLean, and the guest speaker will be the Rev. Todd Brown, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Chesterbrook. Providing music will be saxophonist J. Plunky Branch and the Tom Teasley and Charles Williams act.

Scarf Down Funnel Cake at McLean Day

1659 Chain Bridge Road McLean.

703-790-0123

Every year at Lewinsville Park, McLean celebrates "McLean Day," a spring day to commemorate the community. This event is sponsored by the McLean Community Center. The festival features carnival rides, live entertainment, food, arts and crafts, face painting and tattoos, various demonstrations, and a moon bounce. McLean Day offers a variety of foods. Past festivals have included crab cakes, chicken pitas, grilled shrimp, pizza, apple dumplings, kettle popcorn, cotton candy, ice cream, chili dogs, hamburgers, hot dogs, snow cones and the powdered sugary goodness of funnel cake. Free transportation shuttles are available from Redeemer Lutheran Church, the McLean Community Center, McLean Bible Church and Claude Moore Colonial Farm.

Hunt for Easter Eggs (And Precious Gems)

Great Falls Spring Festival

Great Falls Village Centre,

Intersection of Walker Road and Georgetown Pike, Great Falls

The Great Falls Spring Festival, started by Adeler Jewelers, is now staged by the Optimist Club, although Adeler still donates the precious gems that take the place of candy in a few of the hidden eggs. The event has grown over the years, and last year’s festival, held in and around the Town Green in early May, included entertainment for children and adults, games, pony rides, an antique and new car show, demonstrations, a 5K run, raffles, food, hay rides and face painting, in addition to the egg hunt. Visit www.greatfallsoptimist.org.

Celebrate the Fourth

Fourth of July at the Village Centre

Great Falls Village Centre

Intersection of Walker Road and Georgetown Pike, Great Falls

Independence Day lasts all day at the Great Falls Village Centre, where the day kicks off with a baby parade at 8 a.m. The main parade starts two hours later and is followed by games, food and fun until early afternoon. Evening activities include inflatable amusements for children and a 30-minute fireworks display.

Celebrate Vienna at ViVa! Vienna!

Church Street, Vienna

For three days at the end of each spring, the historic Church Street area is closed to traffic and filled with nearly two dozen rides, more than 200 vendors' booths and throngs of festival goers. Also featured are various concession stands, carnival games, live music acts and children's entertainment. Do not forget to try the deep-fried Oreos before riding the Rainbow. Visit www.vivavienna.org.

For the Taste Buds

Reston Taste of the Town

Reston Town Center, Reston

With more than 30,000 people checking out the tasty treats that area restaurants have to offer, the annual Taste of the Town is the largest outdoor food festival in Northern Virginia. But food isn't the only attraction at this June event — fun activities in the "Kids Korner" and live entertainment add to the enjoyment. This event is presented by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce and a portion of the proceeds benefit the YMCA Fairfax County Reston. Visit www.restonchamber.org.

Take Advantage of the Arlington Fair

Arlington County Fair

Thomas Jefferson Community Center

3501 South 2nd St., Arlington

The Arlington County Fair is one of the biggest annual events in Arlington. The fair boasts countless attractions, including carnival rides, international cuisine, pony rides, pig races, a petting zoo and a rock-climbing wall, just to name a few. The creative talents of Arlington residents are also showcased at various booths, showing off ceramics, photography, food, creative writing and much more. This year, the event runs from Aug. 19-23. Visit www.arlingtoncountyfair.org.

SPEND A DAY IN THE PARK

Lewinsville Park

Chain Bridge Road, McLean

Lewinsville Park offers a fun and healthy atmosphere for children and adults alike to run and play. Football fields, basketball and tennis courts, and hiking and fitness trails are available. Playgrounds are available for young children.

Playtime at Linway Terrace Park

Linway Terrace, Kirby Road, McLean

A host of possibilities for fun await you at Linway Terrace Park. Whether you'd like to play sports on one of the basketball/tennis courts and baseball/soccer fields, stroll on one of the trails or show your children a good time on the playground, Linway Terrace will fill your outdoor fun needs.

Learn the History of the Falls

Great Falls National Park

9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean

703-285-2965

A slideshow presentation at the Great Falls Park visitor center introduces audiences to approximately 11,000 years of history at the park. The video is approximately 15 minutes long. Stop by the visitor center desk for the day's show times or to request a showing. Individual passes to the park cost $3 and a vehicle pass costs $5. Visit www.nps.gov/grfa.

Shoot the Rapids

Great Falls National Park

9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean

703-285-2965

Whitewater boating is the most common type of boating at Great Falls Park, with the use of whitewater kayaks and canoes. The section of the Potomac River flowing through the park varies from moderately easy to extreme. Most boaters are experienced and know that they boat at their own risk. All boaters must enter the river below the falls in Fisherman's Eddy, between Overlooks 1 and 2, and in AA Gorge. Great Falls Park is open daily from 7 a.m. until dark. Individual passes to the park cost $3 and a vehicle pass costs $5. Visit www.nps.gov/grfa.

Let a Ranger Be Your Guide

Great Falls National Park

9200 Old Dominion Drive, McLean

703-285-2965

Ranger-led programs are offered throughout the year. These educational programs are a great way to explore the park for school groups, Scout groups and more. For a schedule, call the park or visit its Web site at www.nps.gov/grfa. Individual passes to the park cost $3 and a vehicle pass costs $5.

Tour by Kayak

Riverbend Park

8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls

703-759-9018

Riverbend Park offers a number of kayak tours between June and September on a variety of topics. Most tours are designed for beginners. These are not whitewater tours. Introduce yourself to the world of kayaking, get some exercise and, most of all, enjoy the natural beauty of the river and wildlife. All instructors are certified with the American Canoe Association. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/riverbend.

Take the Family to Great Falls Grange Park

9818 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls

Great Falls Grange Park offers facilities for family fun including baseball and softball fields, a picnic area with a pavilion and a small tot lot. The Grange Hall was built in 1929 and serves as a center for town events; however it can be used for weddings, parties and meetings, as it is a two-story structure with a stage and kitchen. Call 703-750-1598.

Stroll Through Meadowlark Gardens

Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park

9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna

703-255-3631

Meadowlark Gardens Regional Park features open-water ponds, gardens, hiking trails and picnic areas. With its eye-catching landscape, weddings can be booked at this park. Visit www.nvrpa.org/parks/meadowlark.

Play Sports at Nottoway Park

9601 Courthouse Road, S.W., Vienna

Nottoway Park features tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, along with picnic areas and fitness trails. A family could easily spend the whole day here. In September, make sure to mark the calendar for the Carnival at Nottoway Park, an event sponsored by the Vienna-Tysons Chamber of Commerce. Visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov.

EATS

Italian Dinner and Music

Da Domenico Ristorante Italiano

1992 Chain Bridge Road, McLean

703-790-9000

Da Domenico is one of those wholesome restaurants that's been dishing out Italian cuisine to the McLean community for years. This Italian restaurant features an extremely friendly staff, live entertainment and "the best veal chop in town." As an added bonus, the owner sings opera music nightly. Visit www.da-domenico.com.

Get Some Middle Eastern Flavor

Kazan Restaurant

6813 Redmond Drive, McLean

703-734-1960

Since 1980, Kazan Restaurant has been serving the Washington area’s famous and powerful, as well as neighbors looking for something exotic. The restaurant is especially renowned for its famous doner kebab, served at lunch and dinner Wednesdays and Fridays and on Saturday evenings. This is a kebab of marinated lamb and veal served with yogurt sauce, over chunks of sautéed pita bread. The restaurant offers a wide menu, to include duck and swordfish, and also offers catering. Visit www.kazanrestaurant.com.

Have a Taste of the Irish

The Old Brogue

760-C Walker Road, Great Falls

703-759-3309

Opened in 1981 on St. Patrick's Day, The Old Brogue Irish Pub offers a variety of music. Open mic night is on the first and third Thursdays of every month, concerts are held regularly. In addition to traditional American fare, the pub doesn't shy away from its heritage, as the menu has an entire section dedicated to "Irish Specialties." Some dishes included are the Dublin strip, a black angus steak with Irish whiskey sauce, Guinness beef pie and Irish bangers. Visit www.oldbrogue.com.

Pick Up Local Produce

Great Falls Farmers Market

Great Falls Village Centre

Intersection of Walker Road and Georgetown Pike

As of last year, Great Falls has its own farmers market, offering locally grown produce and other homemade foodstuffs. The farmers market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., March through November, in the Village Centre parking lot.

Wolf Down a Chili Dog or Three

The Vienna Inn

120 Maple Ave. E., Vienna

703-938-9548

Known for its top-notch chili dogs, the Vienna Inn also serves typical American cuisine, which includes hamburgers, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, etc. The restaurant offers something others don't — kegs of beer. The Inn provides kegs for all occasions, as clients can rent out kegs of Coors, Dominion, Anheuser Busch, Latrobe, Miller, Red Hook and several others. Prices start at $50. The Vienna Inn's old-fashioned wooden booths and tavern-like atmosphere make it a must for locals and visitors alike. The store also has memorabilia including Vienna Inn T-shirts, windbreakers and baseball caps. E-mail webmaster@viennainn.com. Visit www.viennainn.com.

Try Your Custard Frozen

Nielsen's Frozen Custard

144 Church St., Vienna

703-255-5553

Nielsen's Frozen Custard is famous for their signature frozen vanilla custard mixed with add-ins like crushed M&Ms, Oreos, chocolate chips and fruit. The environment is perfect — a traditional brick building with historical photos of the home town of Vienna. The frozen custard has a distinct, creamy flavor, but it's actually lower in butterfat than ice cream. The atmosphere is homey and comfortable for any family to enjoy. Single cones of frozen custard run $1.75 for a child-size portion to $2.25 for a single ($2.85 for a single with flavor mix-ins).

CATCH SOME TUNES

Get Enamored with the McLean Symphony

1350 Beverly Road, Suite 115-172, McLean

703-734-1960

Music director Dingwall Fleary has directed elite musical performances since 1972, and the symphony has over 70 members. All are professional- level musicians. The symphony performs everywhere from the Alden Theater to outdoor concerts for the community. Upcoming shows include a Latin Valentines Day tribute by pianist Polly Ferman, a spring family concert by pianist Carlos Alberto and comedian-juggler Jonathan Austin, and a classical, romantic piano concert by Director Fleary and Jiji Park. Call 703-421-8593 or visit www.mclean-symphony.org.

Enjoy a Cultural Evening

Amadeus Concerts

703-759-5334

Amadeus Concerts is a group of musicians that provides high-quality musical entertainment to the communities of McLean and Great Falls at low cost. In addition to performances by the Amadeus Orchestra, the group brings other renowned musicians to perform at St. Francis Church in Great Falls and Saint Luke Church in McLean. Remaining performances for this season include the Silver-Garburg Piano Duo, the National Symphony Orchestra Education Program, Soloists from the Virginia Opera and The Amadeus Orchestra. Admission costs $25 and is free for students under 18. Season tickets cost $125. Visit www.amadeusconcerts.com to learn more.

Party at Wolf Trap

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

1624 Trap Road, Vienna

703-255-1900.

Made up of 130 acres of hills and forests, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is truly dedicated to the arts. With special acting performances from May through September, along with singing performances, this national park is home to many musicians. Wolf Trap's smaller theaters feature year-round performances, including singing groups, orchestras, bands, musicals and dance groups. Visit www.wolftrap.org.

Listen to The Vienna Community Band

Vienna Community Center

120 Cherry St., SE, Vienna

703-255-6360

After about three decades of performing, the Vienna Community Band is made up of almost 80 volunteer musicians and performs in several of Vienna's town celebrations including Independence Day and ViVa! Vienna! The band performs a variety of music ranging from rock to jazz.