SHERMAN - Friday night, the Blue Heron Festival grounds will be filled with magical light.
Night Lights at The Heron, a unique eco-tourism attraction, will open for its third season Friday at 9:15 p.m. Showcased is a one-mile walk through the forest at night, with trails colorfully illuminated by theatrical and interactive lighting.
''Night Lights has been very well-received by our guests the first two seasons,'' said creator Doug Sitler, a Frewsburg native who now lives in Buffalo. ''We've created a tourism attraction that is delivering a unique experience that visitors will find engaging and sensational.''
‘‘The Red Forest’’ will be one of several illuminated natural areas during Night Lights at the Heron, which will open its third season Friday night.
Created in 2009 by SitlerHQ LLC and Volt Vision Inc., Night Lights is a peaceful journey into the woods at night where guests - wearing glow necklaces - walk a series of smooth trails through illuminated landscapes that highlight the natural environment. Guests are encouraged to play a drum into a microphone, which changes the colors of the lights by the tone of the drums.
The natural areas throughout Night Lights have names such as The Red Forest, The Ferns, The Drum Circle, The Butterflies and Fern Gully. Guests eventually walk to the Cafe in the Woods, where they can enjoy snacks and beverages, as well as catch a performance on the stage attached to the cafe. Night Lights features entertainment performances ranging from musical groups to artists and writers.
The 11-week season of Night Lights at The Heron will be Friday and Saturday nights from July 29 to Oct. 8, and the attraction will also be open on Sunday, Sept. 4. The entertainment lineup will kick off the weekend with OTIS on Friday night at 9:30 and the American People at the same time Saturday night. Future entertainers will include Mason Winfield on Aug. 6, Aqueous on Aug. 13, Gretchen Clark on Aug. 20, John & Mary on Aug. 27, Jim Donovan's Rhythm Revival Weekend on Sept. 2 and 3, Shotgun Jubilee on Sept. 10, Queen City Sight & Sound on Sept. 24, and the Night Lights Fall Music Festival on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
Performance times change each week, as the attraction adjusts its opening time to accommodate for changes in the hour of sunset.
Sitler said that the attraction has drawn visitors from across the region during its first two years.
''When we created Night Lights there was a general assumption that many people who attend the Great Blue Heron Music Festival would be our primary visitors. In reality, very few of our guests have attended the festival, but instead are people who are visiting the area or are making a special trek from areas such as Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Cleveland,'' he said. ''Last summer, we could tell from our visitors that most were from out of town and that Night Lights was giving them a lasting impression of Chautauqua County.''
This past February, Night Lights had a successful three-week run at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, which drew more than 4,000 people in nine nights. Sitler said that success makes him hopeful that this year's Night Lights at the Heron will be the most popular yet.
''Due to the smashing success of the show in Buffalo this past winter, we are expecting many of those people to find their way down to Sherman and explore Night Lights at The Heron,'' he said. ''Along the way, we hope they discover other little gems that make our region so special and interesting.''
Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Night Lights at the Heron will take place at 2361 Wait Corners Road in Sherman. Guests are encouraged to bring a flashlight.
For more information about the event, visit www.heronnightlights.com.