Grandfather Mountain announces 2016 schedule of events
From Salamander Saturday to a Beary Scary Halloween and all points in between, 2016 promises a mile-high schedule of events for Grandfather Mountain.
“No matter what time of year, there’s always something happening on the mountain,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the popular Linville attraction. “Our growing schedule of events sweetens the pot, offering guests entertainment, education and a special connection with the great outdoors.”
With a few exceptions, most special events are included with park admission.
Salamander Saturday: May 7
Join Grandfather Mountain’s naturalists on an exploration into the lives of the most prolific terrestrial vertebrates on the mountain. Activities include guided hikes to observe rare species and learn more about the area’s hidden biodiversity.
Naturalist Weekend: May 13-15
The Grandfather Mountain Naturalist Weekend offers a collection of programs and guided walks that help guests discover more about the mountain’s unique biodiversity during the heart of spring.
The Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble: June 1-12
Grandfather Mountain will showcase the beauty and significance of the native rhododendron through a series of guided hikes that explore the cultural history of the plant, as well as its function in the wild landscape.
Nature Photography Weekend: June 3-5
In the daytime, participants will photograph Grandfather Mountain’s scenery and
native animals. In the evenings, they’ll hear presentations from some of the nation’s top nature photographers.
Images from Friday and Saturday’s photo excursions are entered in an informal contest, with winners announced at the event’s conclusion Sunday.
This program comes with an additional cost, and online registration opens Monday, April 4.
Animal Birthday Party: June 15
Grandfather Mountain celebrates the birthdays of all its furry and feathered residents with a day full of games, contests, crafts and surprises for the whole family.
92nd Annual Singing on the Mountain: June 26
Free for all, this all-day gospel singing event has taken place for nearly a century and returns again to MacRae Meadows, located at the base of the mountain. Camping (with no-hookups) is available, too, and a list of performers is forthcoming.
61st Annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games: July 7-10
Guests are invited to revel in Scottish traditions, music, dancing, athletics and food at the grandest gathering of Scottish clans, held annually at MacRae Meadows. Admission is charged for this event. For more information, call the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games office at (828) 733-1333, or visit www.gmhg.org.
Animal Enrichment Day: Aug. 3
Enrichment is an integral part of how the mountain cares for its habitat animals every day.
“An enrichment is anything different that can help enhance the animals’ day, such as a scent, a new toy or a treat,” Ruggiero said.
Visitors will enjoy watching enrichment demonstrations, talk directly with keepers and participate in family-oriented games and crafts.
Amateur and Professional Camera Clinic: Aug. 13-14
Top photographers gather to present on the nuts and bolts of making good photographs. This event is free to working members of the press, with an additional cost for non-professionals. Online registration begins July 13.
13th Annual Grandfather Mountain Kidfest: Sept. 10
A full day of games, music and fun awaits at the annual Grandfather Mountain Kidfest, where families can explore nature, history and music of the Southern Appalachians.
46th Annual Grandfather Mountain Girl Scout Day: Sept. 17
All Girl Scouts are invited to visit Grandfather Mountain for a fun-filled learning adventure, including special scout activities, presentations and a closing ceremony. The theme for 2016’s event is plant life.
All Girl Scouts and troop leaders are admitted for free with proof of membership, while family members will receive discounted admission.
International Hawk Migration Viewing: Sept. 17-25
Join the mountain’s naturalists as they count and celebrate the annual spectacle of the fall raptor migration. Participants can meet at Linville Peak daily, weather permitting.
John Muir Day: Sept. 25
Join Muir, the preeminent naturalist and Sierra Club founder, once described Grandfather Mountain as “the face of heaven come down to earth.” Guests can explore the mountain with guided hikes and talks, as naturalists discuss Muir’s historic visit to Grandfather more than 100 years ago. Sierra Club members receive free admission.
Creatures of the Night and Bonfire Delight: Oct. 1
Participants can enjoy rare after-dark tours of Grandfather Mountain, fireside tales and a chance to meet the park’s nocturnal residents. Admission is charged for this event, and online registration begins Sept. 1.
The Colors of Grandfather: Oct. 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23
Almost every weekend in October, Grandfather’s naturalists will lead guided walks to showcase the changing leaves and explain the science behind the natural phenomenon.
Beary Scary Halloween: Oct. 29
Join Grandfather Mountain for a full day of nature programs about animals considered “creepy and crawly.” This fun-filled day includes opportunities to create animal enrichments and trick-or-treat through the wildlife habitats. The event is included with park admission, although children in costume are admitted for half price.
For a full schedule of events, including summer evening lecture series, daily programs, sunrise-sunset opportunities and night walks, visit www.grandfather.com.
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.
Photos courtesy of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation
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