1) Buffalo Soup-Fest, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 31 in Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.). Entrance costs $5 and "Soup Bucks" cost $1 each.
Commentary: If you're someone who likes to browse menus as much as I do, then the SoupFest offerings below will occupy a few minutes of your time.
What's Mooney's "mystery soup"? What does a "Blazin' Bison" look like? Is Roaming Buffalo's soup really made out of Buster Bison? If so, what will the Triple-A team do for a mascot? (I may have made this identical joke last year. It sounds familiar.)
I have so many (mostly off-topic) questions, but if you like soup, you should be psyched for Sunday.
2) Larkinville Ice Festival, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 30 in Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.) Free to attend.
Commentary: A full slate of winter-friendly events is laid out for Saturday, from kids activities like a do-it-yourself snow globe and coloring, to adult options like outdoor Kan-Jam and cornhole, as well as live music and "Snowga," which is allegedly yoga in the snow.
The event overlaps with Hydraulic Hearth and BreadHive's weekly collaboration, Bagels and Brooze, as well as bike-focused Snow Roll 2, for which you can find the Facebook event here. Sara M. Zak's tiny art exhibition in a telephone booth, which Colin Dabkowski explains/previews here, also is part of the wide-ranging festival.
3) Buffalo Groundhog Day, noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 30 in Flying Bison Brewing Co. (840 Seneca St.) $25 at the door, includes two Flying Bison beers, a souvenir Groundhog Day glass and a $5 voucher to Lloyd Taco Truck to be used on-site.
Commentary: Just down the road from the Ice Festival is Buffalo's biggest Groundhog Day celebration, featuring rising mascot star Buffalo Mack -- a surprisingly cheery groundhog, of course -- and explosive revelry inside Flying Bison. Proceeds benefit The Buffalo Zoo, which
If afternoon drinks, Lloyd and good friends are part of your recipe for fun, then help Buffalo do it better than Punxsutawney. (Could you say they put the "punks" in Punxsutawney? It's OK if you can't.)
Commentary: Reservations are flowing in for this barbecue pop-up, which features the saucy handiwork of Wade Starnes, a Hamburg native who's cut his teeth at his local farmers market.
Instead of trying to convince you how dynamite his brisket, ribs and pulled pork are, just sink your eyes into this photo. (Sink your eyes? Does that even make sense?)
5) Glow, 7 to 10 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Ice at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Admission is $6 for ages 13 and up, while kids between 6 and 12 pay just $4. Skate rentals are $4.
Commentary: As Canalside's use of its outdoor ice rink evolves, I think you'll see more events like Glow, a live music-meets-lights-meets-skating party that's affordable and family-friendly. Cruise, slide or spill along the ice to the sounds of Buffalo-based Igloo Music, which blends house and techno with a dose of funk.
Since it's supposed to approach 50 degrees on Saturday, you might as well get your skating in this weekend when you can.
6) "Groundhog Day," 11:30 a.m. Jan. 30 and 31 in North Park Theatre (1428 Hertel Ave.) Admission is $5 for each showing.
Commentary: I'm not usually a big Bill Murray guy, but when it comes to a classic like "Groundhog Day," even Eeyore Tsujimoto softens up a bit. I could live without ever seeing Ned Ryerson again, but how many times do you get to see a rat drive angry?
7) Penguin Run 5K, 1-mile Fun Run/Walk/Waddle, 9 a.m. registration and 11 a.m. race on Jan. 31 in Classics V Banquet Center (2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst). Register here for $30 for the full race and further fundraising details.
Commentary: Did you know that a group of penguins is called a waddle? A fun, if confusing fact, especially when a waddle waddles. Sunday's run will be one of the warmest Penguin Runs in recent memory, but proceeds still benefit the initiatives at Cradle Beach, and the post-race party is allegedly the "best in town."
Commentary: In Colin Dabkowski's review of the play, most of his criticisms were directed at the interpretation of the story's mood rather than the acting/choreography/dancing. In fact, Dabkowski raves about the agility of 67-year-old Priscilla Lopez in "No Time at All" and praises Brian Flores' role as Pippin.
Commentary: This lively Disney event has a little of everything: a local connection in skater Alexis Darrow, who plays Alice in Wonderland; the presence of ageless Buzz Lightyear, who I consider to be the Sheldon Cooper of Disney characters; and snow cones that will run you between $12 and $18 (but you get to keep the cup!). Read more reaction in Mary Friona-Celani's Mom Review here.
Commentary: Teleport back to 19th century Buffalo, the era of the Erie Canal and flourishing trade and industry, for an evening of Americana-roots music from Donna the Buffalo. Michael Farrell's concert preview is far more informed than I am.