1) Tonawanda Christmas at the Castle, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 20 in Tonawanda Castle (69 Delaware St., Tonawanda). Admission is $4, and a 25-cent donation for children 16 and under. The first 100 through the door receive a $4 gift certificate to the festival, while the next 200 attendees will receive a $2 gift certificate.
Commentary: The challenges of holiday shopping are plentiful, but Christmas at the Castle tries to stonewall at least a few of them. The event is early enough in the season where the stress of rushing around feels distant, plus the presence of vendors all in one place means you can try to check a bunch of people off your list in one day.
If you haven't visited the former Tonawanda Armory since its renovation, Sunday is also a perfect time to explore. Here's a Smiles gallery from the Wine and Chocolate Affair in February and then from a psychic fair held there in early August.
2) Sour Beer Saturday, 11 a.m. Nov. 19 to 2 a.m. Nov. 20 in Thin Man Brewery (492 Elmwood Ave.). Free to get in.
Commentary: We've written in the past about gateway beers to get introduced to craft beer - sour beers are absolutely not those. Sour varieties, produced through a process involving wild yeast and bacteria, offer a much different sensation from the bitterness of an IPA. In other words, if you don't like IPAs, it doesn't automatically mean you'll loathe sour beers.
The style of beer caters to a specific type of beer drinker - sour beers are outrageously difficult to drink in large quantities - that's not a challenge. Think of them as sophisticated Warheads for adults. Grimm, Crooked Stave, Brewski and Stillwater are a few of the sour beers to be on tap.
3) North Pole Express, 6:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 at Arcade and Attica Railroad (278 Main St., Arcade). Tickets are $24 for adults, $22 for children 2 to 12 years old and seniors 62+. For tickets, call (716) 948-0505.
Commentary: Whether you're a reindeer aficionado or just want to enjoy a family activity, the North Pole Express features a steam-engine ride to Curriers Station, which is transformed to include Santa, Mrs. Claus, elves, reindeer and dozens of other holiday characters. Attendees receive a goodie bag, an elf doll and a magical jingle bell.
After Friday night's opening ride, further iterations of the North Pole Express happen multiple times on each Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 18, closing with a final foray on Dec. 23.
4) New York Beer Project first anniversary, 11 a.m. Nov. 19 to 2 a.m. Nov. 20 at 6933 S. Transit Road, Lockport. Free to attend.
Commentary: Not that this version of The 10 hinges on weird beers, but the funfetti-flavored Liquid Birthday Cake Ale that NYBP has brewed for its anniversary is both enticing and mildly terrifying.
Do you know what's not risky? Complimentary chili from the brewery, which comes out at 3 p.m. Read News contributor Alex Placito's preview of the festivities here.
Commentary: SABAH, a local organization dedicated to improving the life of those suffering from cognitive, physical and emotional disabilities, hosts its annual gala on Friday.
Marking the not-for-profit's 40th anniversary, the formal party includes an open cocktail bar, dinner, a live auction featuring Super Bowl tickets, as well as a silent auction.
6) Light Up the Boulevard Electric Parade and Festival, 2 to 8 p.m. Nov. 19 on Grand Island Boulevard, as well as the Town Commons.
Commentary: The Grand Island event is so special that Santa will make two stops - one in the afternoon and one in the evening - instead of just one, impressive given his busy seasonal slate. (Hopefully he doesn't get stuck on one of the bridges. Do reindeer have to pay the toll?)
After food trucks and vendors kick off the party at 2, the Rudolph Run - a 1K fun run - closes Grand Island Boulevard at 4:30 p.m., then festivities continue with the Electric Parade and tree lighting in the Town Commons.
The weekend gathering celebrates the end of the 12 Days of Small Business, a Grand Island Chamber of Commerce initiative that rewards supporting local vendors.
7) "Picasso: The Artist and His Models," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 18 through 20 at the Albright Knox Art Gallery; exhibition stays through Feb. 19. Admission to see Picasso's works for half-hour slots run for $18 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Find available times here.
Commentary: Exhibition organizer Holly E. Hughes shed light on one trait that set Pablo Picasso apart from his peers: "He was really concerned with seeing himself in that greater art-historical role. I don’t know how many artists of his time period were thinking about that," she said. "While he varied his style, his motifs and themes always stayed the same."
Dabkowski takes a deeper look into the lenses by which to interpret Picasso here.
8) Prepare for Burchfield Penney Art Center's 50th anniversary, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19, 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 20 at 1300 Elmwood Ave. Admission is $10 for adults, different rates can be found here.
Commentary: The art gallery on Buffalo State's campus celebrates its 50th anniversary on Dec. 9, but the BPAC has reconstructed the first exhibition it ever displayed, Charles E. Burchfield's works, focusing on the dramatic "December Storm." News Art and Theater Critic Colin Dabkowski digs deeper in his preview here.
9) Toast Takeover, 9 a.m. to noon on Nov. 19 and 20 at Tipico Coffee (128 Fargo Ave.). Free to get in, but you have to pay for the toast.
Commentary: The first toast-centric event in the history of The 10! (We keep careful records.) Tipico celebrates its first birthday with a Saturday collaboration with Barrel + Brine owner R.J. Marvin, and then finishes Sunday by working with Lait Cru Brasserie's Jill Gedra Forster. Here are the special toasts that they're offering, via the Facebook event page.
Saturday with Barrel + Brine:
Kimchi tartine with pork belly, kimchi, a soft egg and sweet soy aioli
Autumn fig with whipped goat cheese, kombucha-soaked figs, walnut honey and thyme
Sunday with Lait Cru:
- Chocolate and espresso fromage blanc on brioche
- Humboldt fog with micro pea shoots and chili honey on sourdough
- Delice de bourgogne and Amarena cherries on fruit bread
10) Love Trumps Hate: Peaceful Protest, 3 to 8 p.m. Nov. 18 in Niagara Square. Free to attend.
Commentary: The open protest meets again in Niagara Square after an impressive turnout at the first gathering on Nov. 13. For more on what sparked the series of events, read Anne Neville's report, John Hickey's gallery and see the Smiles photos from the protest.
*The Rapids Theatre performance by Fitz and the Tantrums, originally slotted for a spot in The 10, has sold out.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who's allergic to avocados, at email@example.com