By Alicia Dziak
If you’re looking for ways to connect with the great outdoors that are above and beyond your typical hikes, look no further than the Enchanted Mountains, a hub of September activity. Art, nature, education and music come together at some unique local events and activities this month.
Griffis Sculpture Park is one of the area’s hidden gems. With over 250 sculptures gracing the park, there are meandering trails, with each sculpture placed with the natural setting in mind, creating a truly unique experience between art and nature. The park is a daytime attraction, beckoning hundreds of visitors to explore it every spring, summer and fall.
The rare opportunity to check out the park at night once again arrives next week, when NIGHT LIGHTS return Wednesday, Sept. 13 and runs on select evenings through Sunday, Oct. 8. For the fifth consecutive autumn, Griffis Sculpture Park will again be illuminated with colorful and theatrical lighting. NIGHT LIGHTS will be open 17 nights for guests to view the interaction between lights, nature and art. The show has attracted over 5,000 visitors since 2013.
“Over the past four years, NIGHT LIGHTS has been a fun and creative way to bring visitors to the Griffis Sculpture Park. In addition to raising revenue for the park, it gives people another reason to come out to visit such a unique place,” said Doug Sitler of Sitler HQ, who creates the light displays. “A lot of people look forward in coming to the sculpture park for NIGHT LIGHTS each year. Many drive into Springville or Ellicottville for dinner before coming out to see the lights.”
If you’ve never experienced NIGHT LIGHTS at the park, you’ll be blown away by the sculptures and natural surroundings lit up with awe-inspiring displays of lights and colors. “During NIGHT LIGHTS, visitors get to experience a trio of experiences: art, lights and nature. The sculptures take on a whole look bathed in colorful LED lights,” noted Sitler.
New additions to the trail this year are new lighting concepts, soundscapes, video projections and events. The Buffalo music group The Observers will be playing a show on Saturday, Sept. 30. “We are adding a few new lighting and sound features this year, as well as a few fun events such as music performances, night hikes and family-friendly bonfire nights,” Sitler explained.
NIGHT LIGHTS at Griffis Sculpture Park is open for four consecutive weeks, Wednesday through Saturday and on Sunday, Oct. 8. Admission will be $10 for adults, $5 for children 12 to 7. Six and under are free.
Dates and times are as follows: Sept. 13-16, Sept. 20-23, Sept. 27-30, Oct. 4-8; Wednesdays and Thursdays 7:30-9:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays (and Sunday, Oct. 8) 7:30- 10:00 p.m.
“We hope visitors come to NIGHT LIGHTS at Griffis Sculpture Park and just relax and become inspired. Soak up the lights, the environment and the beautiful fall evenings,” said Sitler.
Another way to enjoy the great outdoors this month is to head to Ellicottville’s very own Nannen Arboretum. On Sept. 20, learn about the Monarch Butterfly Restoration in WNY from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Ellicottville Town Center. The speaker is David O’Donnel, President, Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm in Clarence. Cost for this program is $5 at the door.
On Sept. 24, take A Walk in the Arboretum, offered 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. This free walk will be led by Nannen Arboretum Society members, taking visitors through the grounds. Refreshments will also be served.
Since this is a ski town, what better way to enjoy the views than with a scenic chairlift ride? Offered weekends Oct. 15, take in the change of the seasons on Holiday Valley’s Spruce Chair, located by Tannenbaum Lodge and Sky High. Rides are available Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Why not spend the next couple weeks outdoors doing some unique activities you can’t find just anywhere? Mark your calendars and have a blast!