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The 10: Winter Wonderland, Casino for a Cause

1) Winter Wonderland, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 7 at Adam's Mark Hotel (120 Church St.); 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 8 in Hampton Inn (49 Olean St., East Aurora). Free to attend.

Commentary: The premier family event of the weekend runs for two days - Saturday in downtown Buffalo and Sunday in East Aurora. Some of the attractions at the Adam's Mark include costumed characters, free pony rides, the Carnival Kids Steel Orchestra, balloon sculptures and exotic animals, including a monkey and a kangaroo (haven't you always wanted a monkey?).

East Aurora's version of the event will include all of the above except the orchestra and balloon sculptures. The Adam's Mark and the Hampton are both owned by Visions Hotels, which presents this event.

2) Casino for a Cause, 7 p.m. to midnight on Jan. 7 in Town Ballroom (681 S. Main St.). Tickets are $100 and can be purchased here.

Commentary: Buffalo Sabres' defenseman Zach Bogosian runs a charity foundation called the BOGO Bunch, which will host the inaugural Casino For a Cause in Town Ballroom. Attire from the Roaring '20s is encouraged - think flappers - while Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly will also be in attendance, acting as dealers for the various games stationed throughout the ballroom.

Pause for a fun tidbit: Did you know Bogosian is the first player of Armenian descent to play in the NHL?

3) Brides World, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 8 in Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.). Free to attend.

Commentary: A recent appearance as a groomsman reminded me of the elaborate nature of wedding preparation. It can be hard to know where to start! Brides World unites vendors in the convention center to help meet the needs of brides looking for anything from wedding dresses to DJs to venues. Adding a little spice is four different $500 giveaways.

Go here for a list of local wedding resources, courtesy of Brides World.

4) Polish Happy Hour, 5 p.m. Jan. 7 in Valley of Buffalo (2379 Union Road, Cheektowaga). Admission is free.

Commentary: Polish Happy Hour's next stop is the Valley of Buffalo, a Scottish rite in Cheektowaga, where revelers will celebrate Three Kings Day, remembering the gifts of the magi to the baby Jesus in the Christian tradition.

Twenty different Polish beers will be available - plus grzaniec, a popular cold-weather drink in Poland - and free food will be offered as well. Proceeds will benefit Msgr. Adamski Polish Saturday School (83 Goalberts St., Cheektowaga). Live music will be performed by a Polish folk (Gorale) group from Toronto, and traditional Christmas carols will be sung, as the holiday runs through early February in Poland.

5) Go ice skating, all weekend at various locations throughout the Buffalo Niagara region. Prices vary.

Commentary: If you've been stuck in an office all week, the chance for fresh air - even if it's really, really cold - could be alluring. The News curated many different locations for ice skating - both indoor and outdoor - in Western New York and published them here. Admittedly, I cannot ice skate, but learning to is on the list of New Year's resolutions.

Ice skating on a frosty day at Canalside. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News file photo)

6) "Grounded," 7:30 p.m. Jan. 6; 3:30 and 7:30 on Jan. 7; 2 on Jan. 8 in Kavinoky Theatre (320 Porter Ave.). Tickets are $42 general admission and $38 for seniors, and can be purchased here.

Commentary: The News' Colin Dabkowski penned an interesting piece on actress Aleks Malejs, the star of the Kavinoky Theatre show. She's funny, too, given her quote in regard to learning to fly an airplane.

“My instructor is really freaking me out because he says I have to do everything, and I’m so scared," she says in a Facebook video. "He said I have to call air traffic control and I’m afraid to call for, like, takeout." See the culmination of Malejs' work on stage this weekend and through Jan. 22.

Actor Aleks Malejs, left, listens to notes with director Kristen Tripp Kelley during rehearsal of the Kavinoky production of "Grounded." (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

7) "Harry Potter" marathon, Week 1, 2:30 p.m. doors, film at 3 in Riviera Theatre (67 Webster St., North Tonawanda). Admission is $3 or free for Riviera members. An upgrade package can be purchased for $10.

Commentary: The first week of the year is typically pretty boring when it comes to local events. Snow squalls, frigid temperatures and general lethargy all play a role.

One way to avoid all three for a few hours is by seeing "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" in North Tonawanda, the first in a series of Potter films to be shown at the Riviera through March 12. Also, 2001 feels like a really long time ago. Here's a character name scramble for you to work on in the meantime: "renovn elsduyr"

8) M&T First Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Jan. 6 in Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). Admission to part of the museum and some events is free (does not include the Picasso exhibit).

Commentary: The first First Friday of 2017 boasts a whopping 14 different mini events, from classes to public tours to jazz by Bill Bates to an Art of Food featuring Nickel City Cheese's Jill Gedra Forster, who will conduct a wine and cheese pairing.

While you still have to pay for the half-hour slots in the Picasso exhibit, perusing much of the other art in the AKAG is free. Take advantage.

9) Fleuron Rouge's Winter Hafla, 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 7 in Asbury Hall in Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.). General admission tickets are $12 and can be purchased here.

Commentary: Here's a different way to add heat to your weekend. Belly dancer troupe Fleuron Rouge, burlesque dancers Femme Noir and fire-spinner Wyld from Spun Out Fire Productions will all perform in Babeville. The event promises to be both colorful and spicy, and that's even before mentioning the full bar.

10) Hertel Liquor Library opens, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Jan. 6 through 8 at 1673 Hertel Ave. Tasting event on Saturday. Free to attend.

Commentary: A liquor library sounds both fun and sophisticated, and it's brand new on Hertel Avenue (formerly DiGuilio's Restaurant). There's a local twist to Saturday's sampling festivities, too, with Lockhouse Distillery's coffee liqueur, Midgard Winery's creative blends and Southern Tier smoked bourbon.

Discounts, from 10 to 15 percent, are available for purchases on opening weekend. Deep South Taco, which just opened nearby on Hertel Avenue, will supply free nachos. And no, I don't know if the new liquor establishment sells books like other libraries do.

Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's convinced that "Fleuron" is somehow a combination of former New York Rangers star Theoren Fleury, or perhaps the part-Veela character from Harry Potter, at

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