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Start the Season Off Right with Shopping, Adventure and Holiday Fun

By Eva Potter

Excitement for the holidays and winter fun is building in Ellicottville. Start the season off right by treating yourself to a day or weekend or week in Ellicottville, uniquely different from any other small town in the region. Cool shops, music-filled nightlife, fabulous restaurants, cozy lodging and loads of adventurous opportunities will have you embracing the Ellicottville state of mind.

Test your mettle at Holiday Valley’s Sky High Aerial Adventure Park. This is the last weekend the Aerial Park, Climbing Forest and Mountain Coaster are open (until winter hours for the coaster resume). Saturday and Sunday through Nov. 1, from 11 a.m. to dusk, you can challenge yourself on the Aerial Park’s 13 courses with zip lines, bridges and platforms, and levels from easy to commando. Feel the rush on the 4,805-foot Mountain Coaster ride through the trees. Then do your best Spiderman imitation as you harness in for a thrilling 45-foot-high climb in the enchanted trees of the 3-D Climbing Forest.

If you enjoy learning about the nuances of craft brews and regional wines, then hurry up and make your reservations for the Beer & Wine Festival on Nov. 7 at Holiday Valley’s main lodge.

The 12th annual event features opportunities to sample from more than 100 New York State and American handcrafted beers and craft breweries, along with wines from New York, Southern Ontario and Ellicottville vintners. The event also features food for purchase and free live music. Purchase tickets at www.holidayvalley.com.

For art lovers, it’s definitely worth a drive down the scenic back roads of Cattaraugus County to East Otto for the annual East Otto Country Associates 2015 Holiday Open House Nov. 7–8. Visit local artists at their studios from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. each day to browse gorgeous functional and ornamental pottery, as well as original watercolor paintings and prints. For more information, visit www.EastOtto.com.

On Nov. 7-8, visit the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds to check out the annual Sportsmen’s Show, sponsored by the Little Valley Volunteer Fire Department. The show features opportunities to buy, sell and trade. Items include modern and antique firearms, accessories, game calls, sporting goods, fish tackle, home décor, hunting apparel and more. Drinks, sweets, and breakfast and lunch items will be available for purchase. The show runs Saturday from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Parking is free.

The first annual Winter Arts Festival is taking place at the Holiday Valley Lodge on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 11 a.m.–6 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 22 from noon–4 p.m. This new festival, sponsored by the Cattaraugus County Arts Council, offers a full weekend of fabulous and unique holiday shopping showcasing regional talent. Both floors of the lodge will be transformed into an inviting boutique featuring original paintings, prints, photographs, pottery, jewelry, baskets, woodcarving and fiber arts created by regional fine artists and artisans – all at affordable price points. Find the perfect piece for that empty wall or snatch up a holiday’s worth of unique gifts. Live music will add to the holiday atmosphere. And don’t leave the kids at home, because there will also be a free kids’ activity while you shop. Donations for the Ellicottville Food Pantry will also be collected. More details at www.myartscouncil.net.

Then on Thanksgiving weekend, avoid the holiday shopping crush and enjoy a relaxed, old-fashioned holiday weekend during Christmas in Ellicottville, Nov. 27–29. Stroll through the village and enjoy the dulcet sounds of carolers and the beautifully decorated storefronts. Cheer at the lighting of the three-story-tall village Christmas tree, meet a live reindeer, have breakfast with Santa, enjoy wagon rides and more. Children’s activities are free. Be sure to include some shopping in Ellicottville’s mix of eclectic shops for unique and high-tech finds, like ski and snowboarding gear, fine chocolate, the latest fashions, artwork, wine, gourmet cheeses, jewelry, unique gifts and more. As the event gets closer, a complete schedule will be posted at www.ellicotvilleny.com.

And, for all the skiers and boarders who are just itching to hit the slopes, we’re counting on Mother Nature to cooperate with plans to allow Holiday Valley to open for the season on Thanksgiving weekend. This year, readers of SKI magazine voted Holiday Valley as the #3 Best Winter Resort in eastern North America. The Valley’s highly respected Snowsports School, racing programs, lifts and slopes, gorgeous lodges, spectacular views, comfortable lodging, delicious food, terrain parks for all ages and helpful staff make this a top-notch family destination.

Make this November a memorable one and start your winter off on the right note in Ellicottville.

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