Chances are you didn’t make it outside much during the relentlessly wet and unseasonably cool Western New York spring. Now’s your chance to make up for it. Here are some events to get you out the door and in a summer state of mind.
BBQ and Blues Bash
Grab a lawn chair and head down to the historic Cobblestone District to get your fill of great BBQ and stellar local blues talent at this annual outdoor festival featuring Miller and the Other Sinners, Tim Britt Band and Hayden Fogle Band. Enjoy finger lickin’ good food provided by WNY’s favorite barbeque joints, along with some seriously sweet treats. Tickets available at Buffalo Iron Works and on Ticketfly. Price includes four-hour concert, refreshments from Labatt and other local distributors, and parking in the Key Bank Center ramp. Food tickets available at the event for $2 donation. Proceeds benefit children and families served by Gateway-Longview. 21 and over, rain or shine event starts at 5 p.m. Stay for the after-party at Buffalo Iron Works at 9:30 p.m.
Location: Illinois St., Buffalo (next to Key Bank Center)
Admission: $20 pre-sale; $25 at event
Buffalo LIVING Tour
Buffalo has undergone a serious makeover, transforming brownfields into greenways and eyesores into sights to behold. This 6th annual tour will bring you up close and personal with the city’s latest rehabbed loft buildings, condos and upscale hotels. Around a dozen properties will be spotlighted, including a mixed-use building at 905 Elmwood that was once a gas station, and the new Buffalo River Landing at 441 Ohio St. Enjoy free Buffalo News Homefinder trolley rides to each stop, drive to them yourself, or take a scenic bike route. Brochure and maps available online. Tour hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., with happy hour at JT’s Restaurant, 905 Elmwood.
Location: Tour headquarters at
905 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
Celebrating Lewiston Garden Club’s 90th year, expect this to be its biggest event to date. Don’t miss the opening ceremony on Saturday, with a Monarch butterfly release by Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm at 10 a.m. (rain date Sunday at the same time). Local businesses will also commemorate the anniversary by participating in a window display contest. Visit the spectacular open gardens, hear notable speakers, watch a demonstration of ideas to try in your own garden, shop for unique garden items and plants, and weigh in on your favorite container garden. Event runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Historic Center Street, Lewiston
Fairy House Festival and Summer Solstice Celebration
Indulge your inner child and usher in the new season at this whimsical 12-hour Artpark event. The fun begins at noon with the annual Fairy House Festival, which includes a build-your-own fairy house workshop and a tour of diminutive dwellings designed by artists, community groups, schools, families and individuals. From 4-7 p.m., enjoy dancers, aerialists, spoken word artists and other performances as part of the Summer Solstice Celebration. At 6:30, join the parade to the Mainstage Theater for a spectacular performance by Lehrer Dance at 7 p.m. The festivities continue with an after party featuring live music and libations on the theater terrace at 8:30 p.m., and conclude with a lantern-led moon dance into the woods from 11:30-midnight.
Location: Artpark, 450 South 4th St., Lewiston
Admission: Fairy House Festival and Summer Solstice Celebration, $10; Lehrer Dance performance and after-party, $15; Day pass with admission to Festival and all performances and events, $20
@ Botanical Gardens
June 20-August 22
The Botanical Gardens is growing its roster of events. Share a casual farm-to-table experience at this new weekly offering that features imaginative small plates and herb-inspired libations from chef Avi Altman of Obviously Avi Catering. Relax among the tropical surroundings with delicious dishes, tantalizing treats and creative cocktails from 4-7:30 p.m. (Event does not run July 4.)
Location: Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo
Admission: Regular admission price of $11 applies. Food, beer and wine priced individually.
Contact: 827-1584 ext. 204
Tifft at Twilight: The Quest
Put together your best scavenger hunt team and meet at this beautiful 264-acre nature refuge for clues, camaraderie and competition. Keep your energy up with fare from local food trucks and enjoy cocktails specially crafted for the evening by Dram Box – Buffalo’s first cocktail truck. General admission includes access to the preserve, live entertainment, scavenger hunt, nature-themed trivia and one beverage. VIP tickets also include reserved parking, quick entry, separate bar with one additional beverage, and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. Adventure goes from 6-9 p.m. and is 21+.
Location: Tifft Nature Preserve, 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd., Buffalo
Admission: General, $30; VIP, $75; VIP Donor, $150
Opening Night Reception
Get thee to Shakespeare Hill and help celebrate the not-for-profit theater company’s 42nd season. Mingle with the cast and crew as you enjoy pre-show entertainment from Queen City Strings, fill thy belly with delicious hors d’oeuvres from Rich’s Catering and partake of beer samples provided by Flying Bison Brewery. Merriment goes from 6-7 p.m. and is followed at 7:30 by the opening night performance of “The Merry Wives of Windsor.” Event-goers receive complementary reserved seating.
Location: 199 Lincoln Pkwy., Buffalo
Admission: $35 members, $45 non-members
Celebrate the birthplace of one of America’s favorite foods, conceived at the Hamburg Fairgrounds in 1885. The 12-hour festival features all kinds of burger varieties and other samplings from local eateries, an arts and crafts show and sale, classic car show, magic show, children’s inflatable rides and activities, live music all day and Labatt beer tent next to the main stage. Fun begins at 11:30 a.m.
Location: Main and Buffalo streets, Village of Hamburg
Admission: Free; food and drink priced individually
Hospice Summer Affair
This “Hot Night in the City” fundraiser for Hospice Buffalo has proven to be the hottest event of the season, with over 500 guests enjoying the riverbank revelry last year. Be part of this year’s bash and enjoy cocktails, dinner, theme package auction, raffles, photo booth and live music. Party runs from 5:30-10:30 p.m. and is for the over-21 crowd.
Location: Buffalo RiverWorks, 359 Ganson St., Buffalo
Admission: $50 – includes 2 drinks and dinner; VIP – $100, also includes five hours of premium open bar and special giveaways
The Knox Memorial Cup Polo Tournament
This two-day tournament – where the fashions are nearly as sensational as the action – begins with the Sunset Polo event, featuring two matches and Argentine-style barbeque at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Be sure to come back for the final exciting match, which will take place on Sunday during a Champagne Brunch catered by Oliver’s from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hosted by The Stables at Knox, proceeds from this year’s tournament will benefit the Kaleida Foundation in supporting the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.
Location: Knox Field, Knox Road, East Aurora
Admission: Champagne brunch, $125; Weekend pass for both events, $175. Tailgating at $25 per carload.