The Ice at Canalside will sparkle on Friday night for the fifth annual Holiday Celebration. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

1) Canalside holiday celebration, 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 at 44 Prime St. Free to attend, but ice skating is $6 and skate rentals are an additional $4. You can save $1 by donating a canned good for the Food Bank of WNY.

Commentary: We tentatively expect the Ice at Canalside to be open -- which would inevitably make this holiday celebration more seasonal and enjoyable -- as the temperature Friday night is expected to droop to the low 30s. Carolers, children's activities, dance performances and holiday music are reasons to attend the family-friendly gathering.

The opening of the Ice at Canalside was a major event in December 2014. This year's holiday celebration will have a similar feel. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

The opening of the Ice at Canalside was a major event in December 2014. This year's holiday celebration will have a similar feel. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

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2) Holiday Live at Larkin, 4:30 to 8 p.m. Dec. 4 in Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). Free to attend.

Commentary: Keen on having local bands at your holiday celebration downtown? Then the Holiday Live at Larkin is a wise move, as Christmas collective Robot Holiday -- who will perform two hours of original holiday music, Jeff Miers writes -- The Tins, and DJs Shane and Tone will all take the stage.

The Larkin boardwalk is heated, Kornerstone Coffee and Duke's Donuts will provide non-alcoholic refreshment, 16 food trucks will be present and there will be two bars with Flying Bison, Labatt and wine, plus hot bourbon cider from Buffalo Distilling Co. for purchase.

Patrons gather at Larkin Square at the Holiday Live at Larkin in 2014. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Patrons gather at Larkin Square at the Holiday Live at Larkin in 2014. (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

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3) Polar Plunge, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at Woodlawn Beach State Park. You can still register and donate a minimum of $100 to the New York Special Olympics to take the icy wade/dive. Registration begins at 11 a.m., while the plunge hits at 2 p.m.

Commentary: Not since 2011 has Lake Erie's water temperature been this warm. Standing at a balmy 47 degrees -- it's typically in the low 40s this time of year -- the Polar Plunge should be a little more tolerable than usual. Regardless, the annual event -- which encourages funny costumes -- has already raised $93,462 for the New York Special Olympics, and there is still time before the race to Lake Erie.

Because why wouldn't you flex after completing the Polar Plunge? (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

Because why wouldn't you flex (in provocatively cut-off jean shorts) after completing the Polar Plunge? (Don Nieman/Special to The News)

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4) Grace Potter, 7 p.m. Dec. 6 in Town Ballroom (681 S. Main St.). Tickets range from $31 to $35.

Commentary: Even though she's performed in Western New York several times, I had no idea that Grace Potter was legally blind. Dan Herbeck's insightful interview explains how Potter overcomes this obstacle, as well as digging into some of her classic covers and popular acoustic originals. And look at this photo from 2007, which was her first appearance in Western New York, as far as I can find.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play in Thursday in the Square in 2007. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play in Thursday in the Square in 2007. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News file photo)

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5) Queen City Market, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 5 in Karpeles Manuscript Library (453 Porter Ave.) Free to attend.

Commentary: This sounds cooler than a mid-Saturday trip to the Galleria, at least in terms of dealing with crowds and traffic. Local vendors of all kinds -- from food to jewelry to clothing -- will set up shop in the historic West Side building to satisfy holiday shoppers. Here's the list of the local businesses scheduled to appear. There will also be cakepops! I still haven't met anyone who doesn't enjoy a good cakepop. If you had to play "date/marry/kill" with muffin tops, the inside of cake pops and cookie dough, how would you choose?

One of the seasonal designs for Buffalo Cake Pops. They're really an art form. (via Buffalo Cake Pops' Facebook page)

One of the seasonal designs for Buffalo Cake Pops. They're really an art form. (via Buffalo Cake Pops' Facebook page)

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6) Downtown tree lighting, 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at Rotary Rink (20 Fountain Plaza). Free to attend.

Commentary: If you're a softy for tradition, it will be tough to turn down Buffalo Place's tree lighting at Rotary Rink on Saturday. Attending both the Canalside and Rotary Rink tree lightings may earn you bonus points with Santa -- if he likes red noses, he presumably also likes brown noses -- and plus, if you like bizarre Facebook quarrels, the horse-drawn carriage ethics debate on the event page is worth some deep thought. There's free ice skating at the rink, but you do have to pay for skate rentals if you don't own a pair.

Romantic holiday image taken from December 2009 after the Christmas tree lighting at Rotary Rink. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News file photo)

Romantic holiday image taken from December 2009 after the Christmas tree lighting at Rotary Rink. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News file photo)

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7) Julian Montague's "Features," noon to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at BT&C Gallery, 1250 Niagara St. Free to check out Montague's work.

Commentary: Colin Dabkowski describes Montague as "one of Buffalo's most prolific artists" in his event preview, where he talks about the austere nature of "Features," a nature-based exhibition that's a departure from the usual complexity of Montague's work. When you're done browsing, Resurgence Brewing Co. is close-by for a local craft brew.

"Glacial Erratic" is an example of Julian Montague's exhibition, "Features."

"Glacial Erratic" is an example of Julian Montague's exhibition, "Features."

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8) Carly's Club gift gathering, 8 to 11 p.m. Dec. 5 in Soho Burger Bar (64 W. Chippewa St.) Tickets are $40 in advance or $50 day-of.

Commentary: The annual benefit by Friends of Carly's -- to be held again at Soho Burger Bar -- raises money for children with cancer at Roswell Park's Carly's Club. Among the highlights are three hours of open bar, door prizes, a silent auction, live music and hors d'oeuvres. Attendees are strongly encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift from the Carly's Club Wish List, as well. Rumors circulate that Santa will take time out of his busy schedule to make an appearance, too.

The gift gathering event at Soho Burger Bar to benefit Carly's Club at Roswell Park is always a dressy seasonal event. (Matt Weinberg/Special to The News)

The gift gathering event at Soho Burger Bar to benefit Carly's Club at Roswell Park is always a dressy seasonal event. (Matt Weinberg/Special to The News)

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9) Hertel Holidays, 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 4 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 5 on Hertel Avenue. No cost to shop.

Commentary: The Hertel Avenue Business Association celebrates two decades of organized holiday cheer this weekend, as dozens of businesses will remain open for shoppers eager to buy local for their gifts. Given the rate of change and development on Hertel -- which will continue with the advent of Lloyd Taco Factory, a second location for Deep South Taco and the Lexington Co-Op -- you'll probably check out a few businesses for the first time. Here's a link to the participating stores, which are listed toward the bottom of this page.

Hertel is one of Buffalo's commercial strips that takes the holidays seriously. Amy Papia, left, and her friend Wendy King shop at Daisy's Doghouse on Hertel Avenue. (John Hickey/Buffalo News file photo)

Hertel is one of Buffalo's commercial strips that takes the holidays seriously. Amy Papia, left, and her friend Wendy King shop at Daisy's Doghouse on Hertel Avenue. (John Hickey/Buffalo News file photo)

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10) City of Light, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Seneca-Babcock (1168 Seneca St.) Free to decorate and help with kids events, but please fill out this form if you intend to help out.

Commentary: If you're looking to volunteer during the season of cheer -- hey, it's the 10th event, I'm allowed to get a little poetically corny -- B Team Buffalo's annual decoration of an urban neighborhood returns Saturday at Seneca-Babcock. Games, prizes, crafts, a children's carnival and a tree lighting at the end of the day shows care and generosity to one of Buffalo's less-affluent communities. The schedule of events can be found here.

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BONUS: "Nighthawk" featuring Sara Elizabeth and Michael Farrell, 5 p.m. Dec. 4 in Mohawk Place (47 E. Mohawk St.) It's free to attend, and drink specials include $2 PBRs and $2 discounts on all pints.

Commentary: Rising Buffalo musician Sara Elizabeth and author/Buffalo.com contributor Michael Farrell co-host a happy hour at Mohawk Place -- the former has released three independent albums, while the latter just published "When the Lights Go Out," a novel set in Buffalo. Learn more in Jeff Miers' event preview.

Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's sleepy, at btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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