Picnic Areas

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
703-324-8732 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 105
Fairfax, VA 22035-5500
Morgan Chapin
Picnic Reservation Coordinator

Department Resources

Related Resources

Picnic Reservation Frequently Asked Questions

Picnic Reservations

Thank you for your interest in a Fairfax County Park Authority park for your picnic! We are proud of our parks and are confident that you will enjoy your day. Keep in mind sites are in great demand, so make your reservation early.

To make a reservation, please book online, fill out the web form, or submit an application. Once payment is received, a Sales Receipt (Picnic Permit) will be issued by email.  

  1. Book Online: For immediate permitting of select facilities and timeslots (available for rentals 10 or more days in advance)
    • Note: Special Requests may take additional time for the approval process. For rentals with no additional requests or issues, final permits will be issued 7-10 business days in advance of the reservation date.
  2. Web Form:  Please fill out the web form, this request will be sent directly to the Picnics Department. 
    • Note: Do NOT include payment information – once the form is received and reviewed you will be contacted to confirm availability, to collect payment information, and complete the reservation process.
  3. Download and complete the Picnic Area/Picnic Shelter Application and submit it one of the following ways along with the appropriate payment. 
    • Email: FCPAPicnics@fairfaxcounty.gov
      • Note: Do NOT include payment information – once the application is received and reviewed you will be contacted to confirm availability, to collect payment information, and complete the reservation process.
    • Mail: FCPA Picnic Department – 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 105, Fairfax, VA 22035-5500
      • Note: Do NOT mail cash payments; checks can be made out to “FCPA Picnics."
    • In person: Monday-Friday 9:00 am to 4:0 pm – 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 105, Fairfax, VA 22035-5500  
      • Note: Contact us in advance for updated office hours.
    • Fax: 703-653-6672 
      • Note: Please include payment information on faxed applications.

Web Forms or Applications may take up to 3-5 business days to process. Without a Sales Receipt (Picnic Permit) the reservation request is not confirmed. The Picnic Department does not accept reservations over the phone. The Picnic Department stops accepting applications for the upcoming weekend Thursdays at 4:00 pm.

Groups are responsible for adhering to all Park Authority policies, rules, and regulations.

For questions during the week, please call the picnic reservation line at 703-324-8732 or submit an email to FCPAPicnics@fairfaxcounty.gov. Messages are retrieved throughout the workweek and calls are returned as soon as possible. Please be as detailed as possible for staff to assist you as efficiently as possible. During office hours Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., we accept walk-ins at our office at 12055 Government Center Parkway, Suite 105, Fairfax, Virginia (please call 703-324-8732 ahead to confirm office hours and staff availability). Please note, messages or emails left after 4 p.m. on Friday or last business day of the week will be returned on Monday or next business day after 9 a.m., excluding holidays.

We strongly suggest you visit the park before your scheduled event. Parks are open daily from sunrise – sunset. If you plan to visit on a weekend between April and October, please be aware that the facility may be booked. It will help you get an idea of what the area looks like which will aid you with setup. Look at parking, bathrooms, grills, table configuration and park amenities such as playgrounds, hiking trails, etc. 

Applications for the current calendar year are accepted beginning the first business day after January 1. Many locations are booked early in the year. For the best chance of reserving the chosen date and space, please submit an application or book online as soon as possible. We recommend making a reservation 2-4 months in advance of your event date.

No, the picnic staff cannot hold or block any dates until they have received your application with the full payment. Please note that submission of an application and payment by mail can take 7-10 days to reach the office. Once mail has arrived, we will send a confirmation email and process the payment if the space you have requested is available. We recommend informing staff that you plan to send your application and payment via mail. We do not recommend sending cash or credit card numbers via mail.

All reservations are for a one-time use. We have a range of rental options depending on the facility type, location and time of year. Reservations may be available for full day, half day, 2-hour time slots or hourly reservations. Rental times or slots listed on our website and reservation page are not negotiable, please refer to our website for additional details. All rentals will end by sunset, please note this time does range from 4:30 to 8 p.m. throughout the year.

  • Prime rates are Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Holidays.
  • Non-Prime rates are Monday through Thursday.

A discount of 10% of the total rental fee will be applied to "long term" rental groups who submit a request for and rent a picnic area, shelter, amphitheater or gazebo for a minimum of five (5) reservations throughout the calendar year. The reservations do not need to be at the same park to be eligible for the discount. This discount is not available through the web reservation.

The process takes as little as 3-5 business days to issue a permit if there are no questions or special requests on the application. Once approved, a permit will be sent to the email address designated on the application. Your choice of location, date or time might not be available by the time your application is received. Please plan accordingly by mailing the application early or submitting it by email (without payment) or fax or reserving online (at least 10 days in advance). We do not book reservations over the phone.

Sports bags are available for rent at Burke Lake, Lake Accotink and Lake Fairfax. Depending on the location, the bag may include sporting equipment such as a soccer ball, bocce ball set and volleyball. The rental fee is $25.

Special permission is required for a moon bounce or amplified sound at your event; some parks do not allow these features. Submit your request on your picnic application along with the non-refundable $25 permit fee.

You must have a reservation and permission to have a moon bounce or amplified sound during your event.

Power and Equipment are not provided by the Park Authority. Equipment rentals will need to be contracted independently. Please be prepared to move equipment from the parking lot to your rental area.

A Special Use Permit is required for attractions such as face painter, balloon artist, magician, moon bounces, carnival rides, laser tag, pony rides or large group trail use at your event; some parks do not allow these features. Please note each special request item on your picnic application, include your $25 payment for each additional feature and we will contact you if your request is granted or denied by the park management. If your request is denied, you will not be charged the fee.

Equipment and Entertainment rentals will need to be contracted independently. 

If you have requested Other Entertainment through the online reservation process, staff will contact you 7-10 business days in advance of your reservation to confirm your special request and collect payment, if approved.

You must apply for a Business Activity License if you would like to hold any activity that uses Park Authority Property for the purpose of generating revenue through any means or for an activity, including, but not limited to: selling items, collecting fees for an event, requesting/soliciting donations and holding classes or camps. If you are planning on having a race, please submit a race route with your application. Please use the Park Use Application.

A financial statement will be provided with your permit and must be completed and returned to the Park Authority with the balance due one month after your event (or monthly for long term usage).

All vendors are responsible for collecting and paying applicable state sales tax and applying for other required permits with the county or state.


  • Business Activity License Fees: $75 or 15% of gross revenue, whichever is greater. The $75 minimum deposit must be submitted at the time of application. One application and fee due per park.
  • Group Walk/Run/Trail Use Fees: 25-99 people – $ 50, 100-249 people – $100, 250-499 people – $200. Group Walk/Run/Trail Use fees apply to an activity on trails, parts of trails or park paths, whether the event begins or ends on park property. These fees are not charged for school cross country practices but are applicable to all cross country meets held on park property. These fees are in addition to any other applicable fees.

Alcohol may be permitted in designated rental areas with prior approval only; some parks do not allow this feature. The use of alcohol in Fairfax County parks without appropriate permits and approved agreements is AGAINST the law. For more information and application please visit the Alcohol FAQ webpage.

We suggest providing specific directions to your picnic guests, there are maps available at the bottom of each of our reservable area pages. Also, you may post directional signs on park property (stand-alone signs are best; we do not allow anything to be tacked, nailed or stapled to trees, shelters, gazebos, canopies and amphitheaters). We do not allow the posting of political signs other than 25 feet around the main park sign. Please remove your signs before you leave for the day.

Check our website for specific park amenities. Prepare for your event by bringing your own athletic equipment. Select parks have activities and amenities that can be booked in advance of your arrival, please visit Parktakes and search by location and event date.

Acoustic music, radios and MP3/CD players are allowed; however, the sound should not affect other park guests. Maximum amplification allowed is 70 decibels or as loud as a normal conversation at 3-5 feet. DJ’s are not allowed. Certain sites do not permit amplified sound or music, please refer to our website.

Electricity may be available and turned on but does require park and picnic staff approval. Electricity may be requested at the time of making your reservation; some parks do not have this feature. Some of our sites have electricity. Know what is in your area before arrival and plan accordingly. To double check if your shelter has electricity refer to our website.

Catering is allowed and should be contracted independently. We do not provide catering services or recommend specific catering companies or food truck vendors.

Where permitted, a private group food truck vendor permit is required for food trucks vending food on Fairfax County Park Authority property in conjunction with a picnic permit. This is only to be used if the food truck is not selling to the public and is reserved for your group’s use. Please note this request on your picnic permit application and include a $50 payment per food truck. We will contact you if your request is granted or denied by park management. If approved, this is a nonrefundable fee. If your request is denied, you will not be charged $50. Food truck vendors will need to be contracted independently.

Parking is not guaranteed close to your location. Vehicles must park in designated paved and gravel areas only. Parking on the grass is prohibited.

At Burke Lake Park non-county residents’ vehicles are subject to a park entrance fee on weekends and holidays from April-October. Groups hosting events at Burke Lake Park may pay the gate fee for their non-county resident guests by downloading the Gate Pre-Payment Form and following directions at the top of the form. Please contact Burke Lake Park at 703-323-6600 if you have additional questions.

Cancellations/Changes requested more than 14 days before the event will incur a $25 processing fee.

Changes to the reservation are not allowed within 14 days of the event.

Cancellations requested within 14 days of the event are not eligible for a refund.

Please keep in mind, field space is often limited or has already been reserved by an established group (such as youth soccer or adult softball, etc.). Athletic fields may be reserved only for the sport for which they were designed. Please use the Park Use Application.


  • An hourly rental fee is required to receive a permit.
  • Athletic fields can be requested using this application for rental times Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (except holidays) and for any for-profit use. For use outside of these times for non-profit groups, please call 703-324-5533 or visit Athletic Services and Community Use Scheduling.
  • Fees: $45/hour for grass field, $100/hour for synthetic field, additional $25/hour if lights are needed.

If there is an emergency, please contact 911 or Fairfax County Police at their non-emergency phone number: 703-691-2131. Please come prepared for the weather as these are outdoor facilities. We recommend bringing a first aid kit, staying hydrated, wearing hats, wearing sun block and bringing chilled water. We do not allow groups to use space heaters or fire pits in or around our reservable areas.

Our parks are open from sunrise to sunset (the area must be cleaned and vacated by the permitted rental time out). You do not need to check in and out with onsite staff for your event. Please do not set up more than 30 minutes in advance of the check in time listed on your permit. Please note that facilities with multiple timeslots per day the set up or clean up window may be as little as 10-15 minutes.

Shelter, canopy and gazebo reservations are not refundable due to inclement weather. For picnic area reservations, you have 48 hours from the start time of your event to email FCPAPicnicApplications@fairfaxcounty.gov with the confirmation number, area name, date reserved and permit holder's name to request a refund. Responding to the email that you received the permit from is the easiest way. Refund requests will not be allowed after the 48-hour period. Cancellations or changes due to forecasted weather are not allowed within 14 days of the event for any facility.

Parking in all parks is first come first serve (no reserved parking). We suggest arriving early to get the closest parking spots. Please park in designated parking areas or lots.

The group representative must have a copy of the picnic permit in hand on the day of the event. Show anyone using your reserved space your permit and ask them to vacate the area. If the park is staffed, you may contact the staff for further assistance. At parks that are not staffed, you may contact the Fairfax County Police at their non-emergency phone number: 703-691-2131.

Park staff maintains picnic areas a couple of times a week. There is no guarantee that your area will be cleaned before your event. Prepare for dust on the tables, spider webs in the corners or other critters and minimal ground trash (cigarette butts, small pieces of paper, etc.). We recommend bringing a broom and trash bags; tablecloths and other decorations will go a long way in dressing up the area. Most reservable areas have seasonal bathroom facilities (if not bathroom facilities, select areas will have portable restrooms). You will find grills in some of these areas. If grilling is permitted at the site, we allow customers to bring in one additional grill (charcoal or propane). Grills must be kept at a safe distance of at least 20 feet from all structures, picnic tables and trees. 

The use of tape, glue, nails, tacks, screws, staples, paint, chalk or other fasteners that may scratch or otherwise damage surfaces of picnic shelters or tables, trees, sidewalks or other surfaces are prohibited. A Damage or Clean-Up fee may be collected if the reservable site is damaged or left unclean. 

Gender Reveals, Memorial Services, Birthday Parties, Special Events, etc. are allowed in the parks as long as they do not contain the following or similar elements: sky lanterns, confetti, powder cannon, piñatas, paint, smoke bombs, fireworks, fire, incendiary devices, projectiles, arrows, darts, slingshots, balloon releases/popping, silly string, water balloons, animal releases, bon fires, fire pits, outdoor propane heaters, etc.

We suggest bringing volunteers to assist. Also, bring a hand truck, wheelbarrow, a cart, etc. to transport food and drinks from the parking areas to the picnic area. Often there is no opportunity to drive up to the picnic area or shelter for unloading. Park Authority staff is not available for any event set up. 

Pets are allowed in the park but must be kept on a leash.

Please take the time to pick up and bag all trash (bring extra bags). All trash is to be bagged and placed in the nearest trash dumpster. The releasing of balloons is not allowed. Decorative balloons must be deflated and disposed of as trash. A Damage or Clean-Up fee may be collected if the reservable site is damaged or left unclean.

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