School’s Out: Summer Fun Without Breaking the Bank

Has the bickering started yet?

We’re a week into summer vacay, and chances are, you’re looking for some great ways to channel that energy on the cheap. The good news is you don’t have to break the bank to keep kids entertained this summer. Here are just a few tips on free and low-cost fun for the littles in your life.

Loudoun’s Libraries: Way More Than Books

There are tons of free activities taking place at Loudoun’s libraries as part of the beloved annual Summer Reading Program. Loudoun’s librarians and an army of teen volunteers got more than 3,000 kiddos signed up on kickoff day last week.

“We are thrilled with the number of people who registered on day one,” said Susan VanEpps, head of Programming and Community Engagement for the county’s libraries. “Our goal is to make the library a habit. Whether that’s attending programs, creating something in our makerspaces, streaming an audiobook on your way to work or simply reading, the library can be a powerful tool in your day-to-day life.”

One of the highlights of the program is a series of concerts and shows featuring top-notch performers and educators, sponsored by Loudoun Library Foundation. This week featured the Grammy-nominated Milkshake Duo. And next week’s star is the popular 123 Andrés. Colombian-born Andrés Salguero, called a “rockstar for little language learners,” is known for charming songs in English and Spanish. Andrés’ whirlwind tour hits Ashburn and Cascades libraries Monday, June 25; Lovettsville, Middleburg and Rust branches Tuesday, June 26; and Purcellville, Sterling and Gum Spring libraries Wednesday, June 27. Later this summer, programs include the Wild Rumpus Circus, an amazing two-person show that fits juggling, clowning and aerial artistry into small spaces; perennial favorite Reptiles Alive, the science-focused Casey Carle’s Bubblemania and other fabulous events.

Also new this year, Purcellville Library presents weekly outdoor story times at the newly renovated Hamilton Park in Hamilton on Mondays at 11:15 a.m. It’s a great chance to meet friends for fresh air, a little literature and playtime.

Check out the full schedule of performances and story times at library.loudoun.gov

Make the Most of Museums

The newly revived Loudoun Museum has a children’s room that’s open during museum hours: Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. Regular admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and free for children 4 and younger.

The museum also offers special activities and free admission during Leesburg’s First Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. and Family Fun Saturdays on the third Saturday of each month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This summer’s programs include a workshop on invisible ink and spycraft during the American Revolution on Friday, July 6, and a kids’ session on the history and craft of fireworks, along with USA trivia on Saturday, July 21. August children’s programs will be announced soon.

(Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now)

For more information on programming, go to loudounmuseum.org

Down the road, Sterling’s Heritage Farm Museum offers monthly Kids’ Night at the Museum events every second Saturday. On July 14 and Aug. 11, parents can drop children off for dinner, playtime and hands-on exhibits from 6 to 9 p.m.—just enough time for moms and dads to grab dinner and maybe catch some live music at an outdoor concert. Cost is just $16 and advance registration and payment is required.

Their website is loudounmuseum.com. (Yes, similar to the Loudoun Museum’s.)

Loudoun Farm Heritage Museum

Hit The Trail

Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s nature walks and events are a longstanding family favorite. This summer, it’s all about butterflies, bugs and bats.

Summer programming kicks off with a full moon nature walk Saturday, June 30 at 8:30 p.m. at the gorgeous Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship near Hillsboro. A fun, family-oriented butterfly count takes place at locations across western Loudoun on Saturday, Aug. 4 at 9 a.m., and a cool kid-friendly program on bats is slated for Saturday, Aug. 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Morven Park. Most of the events are free but they do require advance registration, so early sign up is recommended.

The Town of Purcellville’s free monthly nature walks, following the old growth forest at the Chapman DeMary Trail throughout the seasons, continue on the last Sunday of each month, with walks planned June 24 from 10 a.m. to noon and July 29 and Aug. 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. These walks, featuring expert guides and a different topic each month, are ideal for children 8 and older with an adult.

For details, go to facebook.com/purcellvilleparksandrec

Rock and Retail

Eastern Loudoun’s retail centers are a mecca for kids’ shows and programs.

Family rock superstars Rocknoceros are back all summer for One Loudoun’s free Kids Summer Concert series, taking the stage at the main plaza every Monday at 11 a.m. from June 18 through Aug. 27. The fun trio, made up ofgoofy but talented musicians Coach, Williebob, and Boogie Bennie, have been entertaining kids for a dozen years with creative songs that even parents can love and have made a splash at venues like Wolf Trap and the Kennedy Center. Their regular shows at One Loudoun are a treat that families from around the region have come to love.

Find information on free children’s shows and other summer activities at oneloudoun.com.
At Village at Leesburg, the VAL’s Pals kids’ club offers special programming Wednesdays (except for July 4) at the center’s community room. Things get rolling with a Rocknoceros concert June 27, followed by an educational program on sharks July 11. Other highlights include magicians Nicolo the Jester (July 18) and The Great Zucchini (Aug. 15) and Blue Sky Puppets performing “Super Pig” Aug. 1.

See the full schedule at villageatleesburg.com.

Cheap Seats

Summer is a great time to see terrific youth theater from an established company for next to nothing, with both weekday matinees and evening shows available.

Main Street Theater’s annual summer camp shows at Franklin Park Arts Center feature young teen and tween actors giving professional quality performances for a steal with one-act, 30-minute shows. The season starts with “Schoolhouse Rock!” Wednesday, June 27 at 1 p.m., and Thursday June 28 and Friday 29 at 7 p.m. A second camp production, “Winnie the Pooh” runs Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 1 p.m. and Thursday Aug. 16 and Friday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets are just $5 per person at the door—be sure to arrive early to get a seat as they often sell out.

Main Street’s camp for older teen actors will put on several performances of the “Guys and Dolls Jr.” at Franklin Park Friday, July 27 through Sunday, July 29. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Find details at franklinparkartscenter.org.

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