1) SantaCon Buffalo, 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in six bars along Chippewa Street. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here, while attendees must check in to receive a wristband at VENU (75 W. Chippewa St.).
Commentary: If you see a peculiar-yet-jolly mass of characters strolling down Chippewa on Saturday afternoon, don't be surprised. The annual SantaCon is a merry bar-hop to seven different stops - VENU, 67 West, Bottoms Up, Darcy McGee's, SoHo Burger Bar, Local Kitchen & Beer Bar and Tap House. A SantaCon wristband allows free entrance into all participating bars, plus drink and food specials at each.
[Related: Smiles at the 2015 SantaCon]
As usual, costumes - like Santa Claus, Ms. Claus, reindeer, elves, etc - are encouraged. Attendees who donate a toy at VENU receive a special wristband for treats from sponsors like Labatt, Stoli and Jack Daniels. Prospective event-goers are encouraged to print out their tickets.
Commentary: The News' Jeff Miers praised the Buffalo Rage Community for its consistent support for electronic dance music in Buffalo, which helped fuel the mission behind VENU. That same group of Buffalo music fans will throw Amplify 2.0, a three-floor dance party with one space dedicated to trendy Silent Disco.
Twenty-four DJs, headlined by Wooli, Dusty Bits and Xotec, will spin, with light and laser shows adding to the atmosphere.
3) Christmas at the Knox, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 in Knox Mansion (437 Buffalo Road, East Aurora). Admission is $5, which directly benefits the upkeep of Knox Farm State Park.
Commentary: Explore the regal Knox Mansion and browse the wares of vendors selling an assortment of treats, candles, decor, jewelry and more. You can view the full list of vendors at the Friends of the Knox website.
Impress your friends with your knowledge of the East Aurora destination, by checking out the stables, reading about the annual polo tournament at the site and New York State's rejection of a brewery proposal.
Commentary: Carly's Club, the section of Roswell Park Cancer Institute that helps children diagnosed with cancer and searches for a cure, hosts its annual gift gathering party at SoHo on Saturday.
Open bar, appetizers and live music are included in the admission price, and attendees are encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift found on the Carly's Club wish list.
5) Santa Land, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 in Chestnut Ridge Park (Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park). Free to attend.
Commentary: Head toward the lake-effect snow-band on Saturday or Sunday for a seasonal family event at Chestnut Ridge, presented by the Erie County Parks, Recreation and Forestry departments in collaborations with Orchard Park Recreation, where there will be hayrides to see Santa, arts and crafts, face painting, an opportunity to roast marshmallows, woodcutting and more. There's a flame there that burns all the time!
6) Golden: Burchfield Penney's 50th anniversary, 5 to midnight Dec. 9 at 1300 Elmwood Ave. Free to attend.
Commentary: The Burchfield will buzz with live music and art in unusual places - including a major exhibition in its freight elevator - as well as old-school Tetris on the big screen in the auditorium and hidden Easter eggs throughout the venue. Hey, it's a weird party in an endearing way.
A cash bar and snacks, plus live music from Zak Ward, Tiny Rhymes, Alex Berkeley and more, are other major perks. Read Colin Dabkowski's thorough preview on the event and the milestone.
7) Becker Farms Sip 'n' Shop, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 3724 Quaker Road, Gasport. Free to attend.
Commentary: Unless you live near Gasport, you've probably never done much shopping there. Zoom up to picturesque Becker Farms for a market with 22 vendors and specials from Vizcarra Vineyards (they sell wine, in case you forgot what happens at vineyards).
8) Holiday Steam Express to Santa, noon, 2 and 4 p.m. Dec. 10. Santa arrives on the steam express at 10:15 a.m.; rides start from the Hamburg Erie Railroad Depot at the corner of Union and Scott streets in the Village of Hamburg. Each ride is $15; call 649-3079 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve and purchase tickets.
Commentary: Santa has upgraded with a taste from the past. Viscose Company No. 6, a 1925 0-4-0 steam locomotive, will deliver the big red guy with the hat to Hamburg on Saturday. The event has been organized by Artcraft Toy Trains, which will host Santa until 5 p.m., in partnership with the Buffalo, Cattaraugus & Jamestown Scenic Railway and the Buffalo Southern Railroad.
Each of the locomotive rides takes travelers to Water Valley, a hamlet just southwest of Hamburg, and back.
9) Harry Potter Holiday Ball, 7 to 11 p.m. Dec. 9 in Barnes & Noble Amherst (1565 Niagara Falls Blvd., Suite 300) and 3701 McKinley Pkwy, Hamburg, and Clarence Mall (4401 Transit Road). Free to attend.
Commentary: Don't let your Hufflepuff garb sit idle any longer: Barnes & Noble throws a Harry Potter-themed party at its Niagara Falls Boulevard, Transit Road and McKinley Parkway locations.
A special visit from Draco Malfoy Attendees are encouraged to wear their wizarding robes or formal Muggle Wear for dancing to Ryan Kaminski's music, while coloring, face-painting, fortune-telling and a Potter-themed merchandise area are also worth checking out.
10) Shop South Buffalo, 5 to 10 p.m. Dec. 9 at Abbott Road, Seneca Street and South Park Avenue businesses. See the list of participants here. Free to attend.
Commentary: The proud South Buffalo community joins together on Friday for its annual holiday shopping event, presented by South District Councilman Christopher P. Scanlon.
[Related: Smiles at Shop South Buffalo from 2014]
An event-sponsored bus delivers attendees to over 30 businesses - all offering special discounts - on three different major streets. You can find the full list of vendors here, and stay through until the after-party at Blackthorn, beginning at 9 p.m.
BONUS - Two holiday markets, just for you:
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's thoroughly impressed at the number of Buffalo's holiday markets, at email@example.com