Summer burns bright and fast like a star, and perhaps your money has, too, so here are free events and activities to last you through the autumnal equinox.
For the creative
As August rolls on, peak sunflower season begins. A few years ago, when photos of friends in sunflower fields flooded Instagram and Facebook feeds, people found out that the Instafamous sunflowers were a part of a field in Sanborn.
Last year, Danielewicz Farm, who planted the flowers, began to capitalize on the sudden foot traffic to their regionally famous field. They now host food trucks, festivals, yoga classes and children's activities, but as always, it's free to stop by and smell the sunflowers, as well as snap a few (not-for-sale) photos in the field.
It doesn't cost anything to explore the area with a camera or an iPhone. There's something about seeing your home in a different light, even if it's just through the lens of a camera, to make you appreciate it more. Stop by some of the city's new murals. Capture street photography in a bustling neighborhood. Document our short-lived season of rich green hues on some nature trails.
After all, you'll always be able to look back fondly on the sun-flared photos when you can't get your car out of the driveway in January.
For the cultured
"Love's Labour's Lost" runs through Aug. 18 on Shakespeare Hill near Hoyt Lake. It's a comical play about a king who bans women from his castle in an attempt to study better for a few years, then falls in love with a princess, and must wait a year for her hand in marriage as reparation. Attendees usually bring chairs or a picnic blanket and snacks to enjoy during the show.
On the first Friday of every month, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery opens its doors free of charge. Peruse the gallery, listen to live jazz while having a drink in the cafe or participate in a docent-led tour. This is one of the last First Fridays for a while since the Albright-Knox will close in November for its two-year-long expansion project.
The Burchfield Penney Art Center, which houses regional art installations and a substantial collection of Charles Burchfield watercolors, hosts free admission on the second Friday of every month. Before or after gallery strolls, catch music on the front lawn by Americana folk-rock band Leroy Townes on Aug. 9 or Buffalo Brass Band on Sept. 13.
To attend one of the monthly summer reading series events, guests must walk through Duende, Silo City's eclectic bar, through its backyard, down a slightly overgrown path to the lawn next to the silos and finally to the end of the silos.
Guests are then ushered into a dark, echoing rotunda full of literary folk awaiting a vibrant poet or musician to entertain on stage. You might be brought back to the lunchbox days of waiting for a school assembly to begin, but the free literary show is only improved by its slightly hidden locale.
Along the same lines, writers will invade the reading park at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library downtown on Aug. 29 for an hour of writing. Just Buffalo Literary Center will provide prompts, but other than that, the goal is to simply write among other writers.
Drive-in movie theaters profit off of our love for watching movies under the stars. But a movie ticket isn't necessary to watch an outdoor movie if you know where to go. Parks around the area offer free movies on giant inflatable screens during the summer.
Depending on the park, the movies tilt toward a younger audience ("Sherlock Gnomes" on Aug. 17 in Williamsville), a more adult audience (“A Star is Born” on Aug. 21 at Woodlawn Beach) and both (“Coco” on Aug. 23 at Front Park near Kleinhans Music Hall). The News' Toni Ruberto wrote a comprehensive guide to all of the outdoor movies in and around Buffalo this summer.
A new band entertains crowds from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday during the summer in Larkin Square. On the docket for the rest of August, see Curtis Lovell with the Paul Robeson Theatre on Aug. 14, Nerds Gone Wild on Aug. 21 and McCarthyizm with Brian Higgins & the Exchange St. Band on Aug. 28. For the event, beginning at 5:15 p.m., parking in the adjacent parking ramp is free.
For the active
All you need for hiking is a pair of sneakers, the desire to spend the afternoon traversing hills and valleys and paths, and some bug spray and granola bars. But where to go? Max Kalnitz, an avid hiker, wrote about his seven favorite hikes in Western New York, from short bursts to daylong adventures.
Outdoor exercise classes
Zumba, boot camp, barre, yoga, kickboxing, pilates: all of these classes can be expensive year-round, but over the summer, fitness studios teach free outdoors versions at local parks and along the waterfront. The News' Scott Scanlon compiled a long list of classes with something for everyone.
For more things to do
• Subscribe to The News' Ben Tsujimoto's twice-a-week newsletter for an eclectic mix of weekday and weekend activities
• Consult our comprehensive festival guide
Story topics: First Fridays/ hiking/ Just Buffalo Literary Center/ Live at Larkin/ outdoor exercise classes/ Second Fridays/ Silo City Reading Series/ Sunflowers of Sanborn/ things to do/ Your Guide to WNY