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Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 12/30/2010

New Year's Eve FAQ: Take the kids to Frostival

By Amy Orndorff

We know the feeling. The kids are home from school for winter break, and you're hearing the constant refrain every parent dreads: "I'm bored."

Combat cabin fever by taking kids to Celebrate Fairfax's Frostival. The event packs rides, crafts and plenty of family-friendly activities into the Dulles Expo and Conference Center.

The event began last year with an estimated 10,000 kids and parents grooving to children's music, making arts and crafts, chilling in a storytelling area and riding carnival rides.

"It was chaos on the kids' bounces and rides," Meagan Lindsay Butkus, managing director of Celebrate Fairfax, said with a laugh. The bubble-making machine that ran between musical acts was also a hit, she said.

Parents looking for some quiet time amid the controlled chaos should head to the storytelling area. Community leaders, including Vienna's mayor, M. Jane Seeman, will take a seat in an oversize chair and read winter-themed stories.

Organizers updated the Expo Center's food offerings this year to appeal to the tastebuds of the young audience. Look for squeezable yogurt and juice boxes, along with kid-friendly favorites like grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.

Also new this year: a snow machine in an area perfect for photo opportunities and a mock midnight countdown and huge balloon drop at 3 p.m. on Friday. Kids can create noisemakers and party hats at one of the craft stations.

Last year, Morgen MacDonald went with her son, Caden, then 21 months, because she wanted a place for him to play indoors. "We have a very active little boy who needs to get out and run around," she said. The number of activities that toddlers could participate in pleased her: "This was better than Disneyland."

Who should try it? Frostival bills itself as appropriate for ages 2 to 12, but organizers say ages 8 and younger get the most out of the festivities. Older siblings enjoy helping younger ones with crafts, and there are rides that even parents can have fun on.

The best part: The concerts by local bands. Last year Rocknoceros and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo brought the pint-size crowd to its feet, and both will be back this year: Skidoo on Saturday and Rocknoceros on Sunday. Check out the entertainment schedule online so you can catch the headliners.

What to know before you go: There will be a large area to check your stroller and coats.

When is it? 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Weekends -- especially Saturday -- were the busiest days last year, so try to go Friday or Sunday. Most families last year stayed for about four hours, said Butkus.

Where can I find more information? Visit or call 800-880-6629.

By Amy Orndorff  | December 30, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
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