Commentary: Few sights scream "the holidays" like hundreds of Santas frolicking around the Chippewa District, bouncing jovially from bar to bar. Each costumed Santa is asked to donate a toy, too; more than 5,000 have been collected in the history of the Buffalo event, also referred to as the North Pole Stroll.
Look back at last year's costumes and Smiles, as well as some of the venues that participated, to get an idea of what to expect.
Commentary: Disney product Sabrina Carpenter has received much of the press in advance of KISS 98.5's annual holiday show, but the biggest name on the bill is undoubtedly Kesha, whose powerful single "Praying" represents a drastic change from the subject matter of her early years.
The News' Tim O'Shei caught up with MAX, another artist in Saturday's lineup, about his acting roles that spurred his music career. Read the full interview below.
3) Jingle Falls USA, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 9 along Old Falls Street and several other venues in Niagara Falls. Many but not all activities are free. See the full schedule here, and know that the final iteration of Jingle Falls USA runs Dec. 16.
Commentary: Santas has upgraded his means of transportation, at least when it comes to visiting the families of Niagara Falls. The jolly red-clad man will zoom to Old Falls Street at Rainbow Boulevard via Rainbow Air Helicopter at 10:30 a.m. Expect a James Bond-esque landing, just with floppier hats and ample "ho, ho, ho"s.
Other activities include a Niagara Falls PAL Santa Dash 5K at 9 a.m., a chance to pose with live reindeer and a sleigh from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a life-size Gingerbread Wonderland in the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute (those are some behemoth graham crackers) and, later at night, a showing of "Frozen" at 5 p.m., followed by fireworks.
Commentary: Although we haven't seen much of Steve Aoki, Deadmau5 or Avicii in Buffalo, a strong strain of electronic dance music stars have rolled into the area recently, from Slushii to Borgore to DJ Pauly D, a celebrity of a different sort.
Illenium, the stage name of San Francisco-born Nick Miller, has released two full-length albums over the last two years, including September's "Awake," which charted on Billboard.com. While EDM is essentially impossible to categorize, Illenium weaves together elements of progressive house, trap and dubstep.
5) Stay Gold: Community Art Party, 5:30 to 11 p.m. Dec. 8 in Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave.). Free to attend.
Commentary: One year after a wildly popular 75th anniversary party, the Burchfield Penney throws a remarkably different birthday event Friday night.
The News' Colin Dabkowski, in his article linked below, refers to the event as a condensed Buffalo Infringement Festival, with more than two dozen installations, including some bizarre projects - like a "landscapes of the psyche" exhibition in the Burchfield's coat room.
Commentary: A mainstream name in the early 2000s - due to tracks like "I'd Do Anything," "Perfect" and "I'm Just a Kid" - Quebec pop-punk band Simple Plan has lingered around the fringes of relevancy in the U.S. while sustaining a presence in Canada. The five-piece heads south of the border for a Friday show in Niagara Falls as part of the group's 15th anniversary tour.
7) Chevelle, 6:30 p.m. doors, show at 7:30 Dec. 9 in Rapids Theatre (1711 Main St., Niagara Falls). Tickets are $25 in advance here or $28 day-of.
Commentary: Rapids Theatre hosts Chevelle, an Illinois alt-metal band that's performed for more than 20 years, in a collaborative effort with 103.3 FM's annual toy drive, for which patrons who contribute an unwrapped toy valued at $10 or more will receive a raffle ticket to win a post-show meet-and-greet or an autographed guitar.
There's no limit to the number of toys you can donate (or raffle tickets received), so you can go hog-wild with your generosity.
8) Cocktails and Caroling, 2 to 10 p.m. Dec. 9 at Main Street bars in Williamsville. Free to take part.
Commentary: Hop between Williamsville bars, sing carols and raise money for the Food Bank of WNY on Saturday with the Williamsville Business Association.
The jaunt begins at 2 p.m. in the Irishman (5601 Main St., Williamsville) and then proceeds to Sorrentino's, Creekview, Milo's, Parings, Cabernet, the Eagle House and the Glen Park Tavern. That sounds exhausting, but just know you're doing it for a good cause.
9) Santa Land, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10 at Chestnut Ridge State Park (6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park). Free to take part.
Commentary: While Jingle Falls appeases families up north, Santa Land will satisfy in the Southtowns, which avoided a major snowstorm on Wednesday but could still have some accumulation this weekend.
Hayrides to see Santa, wood cutting, marshmallow roasting and face painting are among the activities prepared by Erie County and Orchard Park's recreation departments. Two photo stations, a custom Snapchat filter and concessions are other perks. Chestnut Ridge is also an official Toys for Tots drop-off point.
10) Three holiday markets: 42 North (25 Pine St., East Aurora; 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 9), Flying Bison (840 Seneca St.; 1 to 5 p.m. Dec. 9), Parkside (Nichols School - 1250 Amherst St.; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 9).
Commentary: The 10 has smothered the area's holiday markets with coverage since mid-November, even if the article's author has slacked aggressively on Christmas shopping. I think the appropriate cliche is "do as I say, not as I do."
From the Southtowns to the city to North Buffalo, three more holiday markets have popped up on our radar, all on the same day! Click on the individual links for the Facebook event for each.
BONUS: Humble Braggers with KOPPS, Ugly Sun and The Demos, 9 p.m. Dec. 9 in Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.). Cost is $8 at the door.
BONUS No. 3: Albright-Knox Art Gallery's tree lighting and concert, 3 p.m. Dec. 10, begins in the gallery's auditorium, at 1285 Elmwood Ave. Free with $5 Sunday admission to the gallery. St. Paul's Cathedral Choir will perform.