For the fourth year, Night Lights at the Heron is bringing an ecotourism opportunity to Chautauqua County.
Ecotourism allows visitors to experience a program in which the spotlight is on nature and the outdoors. Located at 2361 Wait Corners Road, Night Lights will be held through Saturday, Oct. 6.
Night Lights features a combination of nature, lighting and artistic experience to create a unique experience. According to event coordinator Doug Sitler, the lights, presented by Sitler and his creative partner Steve French of Volt Vision, are energy efficient, and the design in the woods continuously changes each year.
On Oct. 5 and 6, a fire-spinning show by Spun Out Fire Productions will be featured at Night Lights. The pyro troupe, takes over the Cafe in the Woods and mesmerizes the crowd by the spinning art form set to contemporary music.
"We've added new scenes and lighting designs as well as more LED and lighting technology that is energy efficient," said Sitler. "We're still trying to have fun with entertainment by bringing in different acts. This year we have everything from rock bands, magicians and even 10,000 Maniacs."
10,000 Maniacs will be filming some content and videos for their upcoming album in addition to a live performance. They will be using Night Lights as a backdrop.
"It's a huge opportunity," said Sitler. "So, when they called me about using Night Lights I said that they should come out and do a show."
This year's lineup of local artists and musicians includes the work of Queen City Sight and Sound, Magician Todd Nelson, Slip Madigan, The Bogarts and Bill Ward.
"We like incorporating them because we want people to feel like they are a part of it," said Sitler. "It's a bundle of creativity, and we want everyone to be involved."
Artist performances are located at the Cafe in the Woods. Guests will find the cafe along the lighted 1-mile trail that takes approximately an hour to complete.
"About of the walk through the trail, people will come across the cafe," said Sitler. "That's where we sell food and beverages, and where the stage performances go down. It's sort of like the hub of Night Lights. There are usually kids activities, video projections of local photography and lots of dancing."
For those who've never been to Night Lights before, a good place to start would be the interactive light display that guests can play a drum or sing to see the lights change as a result.
Another good place to start is the Night Lights Fall Music Festival scheduled for Sept. 21-22. The festival is hosted by Buffalo's Lazlo Hollyfeld and also includes Schleigho, Smackdab, Aqueous, Universe Shark, Logo City, DJ Cutler and a number of other musicians. For more information visit lazlohollyfeld.com/fallfest.
"The Fall Fest is held in addition to Night Lights," said Sitler. "Schleigho, a band who was popular about 15 years ago, will be coming back to play. The goal is not to compete with the Great Blue Heron Festival, but to have a small intimate music festival in the woods. So, we're really looking forward to it."
Guests of the annual Great Rhythm Revival, Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, will also have the opportunity to experience Night Lights.
"We basically compliment what they are doing," said Sitler. "We give them a creative backdrop to host their drumming festival. They have a percussion and world-beats performance, and that's the only one not located at the Cafe in the Woods."
"Night Lights is held at the Great Blue Heron Festival grounds," said Sitler. "But, I would say that 95 percent of our visitors have never been to the festival or even know it exists, which shows that Night Lights is standing on its own."
Night Lights isn't only located on the Heron grounds. For the past two years Night Lights has made its way up to Buffalo to transform the Botanical Gardens. According to Sitler, 8,000 people came out last year.
"The great thing about it is that we feel like we are spreading our brand, and we hope that those folks then will come down to Sherman," said Sitler. "We really enjoy giving tourists something different to experience during their visit to the Chautauqua region."
The last night of the year features a closing party hosted by Spun Out Fire Productions. The event is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6.
"We call that night our closing ceremony with a night of fire," said Sitler. "They spin fire along to the music and do a parade down to the drum circle. Last year it was our most popular night because people just love it.
"It's a whole different experience when people are walking in the woods at night," he continued. "It gives them a unique experience one that they won't soon forget; one in which each demographic is equally represented and families can experience the fun together."
For more information visit heronnightlights.com or call 984-7595.