This is not your ordinary January. In a month when attractive local events usually just barely outnumber Bills games, Buffalo has been hopping with things to do. Saturday, which brings at least 15 events of interest, is unquestionably the month's peak.
From winter-themed gatherings including the Larkinville Ice Festival to family events like Disney on Ice to quirky parties like Buffalo Groundhog Day, there's no shortage of opportunity to be active.
*Flurrious! Co-ed Kickball Tournament, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Delaware Park (84 Parkside Ave.). Free for spectators. More information at gameonbuffalo.com/tournaments.
The tradition of a winter fundraiser for Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy carries on, as GameOn Sports hosts a co-ed kickball tournament in Delaware Park. Twenty teams - guaranteed a minimum of three games apiece - will compete in a round-robin tournament, with prizes awarded to the winners. Expect friendly competition, poor footing and sore hamstrings.
*White-Tail Winter Walk, 10:30 a.m. in Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve (93 Honorine Drive, Depew). Registration required; call 683-5959. Ages 12 and older. More info here.
Reinstein Woods, which covers a whopping 292 acres near the border of Cheektowaga and Depew, hosts a guided search for white-tailed deer, the smallest members of the North American deer family, according to National Geographic. Even if the deer are rather shy, this is a chance to wander peacefully in a nature preserve within 20 minutes of Buffalo.
*Larkinville Ice Festival, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Larkin Square (745 Seneca St.). Free. More info at LarkinSquare.com.
Larkin Square will be a blur of activity: sledding for kids, KanJam, pickle ball and corn hole for adults, plus The Filling Station and two food trucks for sustenance. A herd of alpacas from Thistle Creek Alpaca Farm will be on hand, too; fight the temptation to challenge one in corn hole. An on-site hockey game is weather dependent, but YMCA Fitness in the Parks will offer Snowga, which is yoga in the snow.
*Disney on Ice presents Dare to Dream, 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p.m. in the KeyBank Center. Tickets are $16.50 to $81.50 Call 855-4100, visit tickets.com or stop by the KeyBank Center. For group rates and information, call (866) 248-8740.
Princesses take center stage in Disney on Ice's Dare to Dream, as Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White and Princess Tiana show off their agility for three family-friendly shows on Jan. 28. How many chances in life do you get to say "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo"? Are Cinderella's skates made entirely of glass? So many questions without answers. Additional shows are at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 and noon and 4 p.m. Jan. 29.
*Buffalo Soup-Fest, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Buffalo Niagara Convention Center (153 Franklin St.). Admission is $5 at the door. Soup Bucks can be purchased for $1 each. More info at buffalosoupfest.com.
Sounds of slurping will resonate throughout the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, as 26 local vendors will spoon their wares to eager eaters. Southie's Smitty Wing Soup from Doc Sullivan's, Lomo! Lomo!'s sweet potato bisque and Joe's Deli's lobster pot pie all sound marvelous right now. Thirteen different awards, from best spicy to best seafood, will be doled out.
[PHOTOS: Smiles at Buffalo Soup-Fest in 2016]
*Buffalo Groundhog Day, noon to 4 p.m. in Flying Bison Brewing Company (840 Seneca St.). Tickets are $25 in advance at buffalogroundhogday.com or $30 day-of.
Spurred by a group of Buffalo friends who visited Punxsutawney, Pa. on Groundhog Day and came away disappointed, Buffalo Groundhog Day is angling to be the country's most fun groundhog-centric celebration. Mascot Buffalo Mack will declare his prediction, while event-goers will receive two mugs of Flying Bison beer and a $5 voucher to use at an on-site food truck with the price of admission. If anything, the jovial celebration will take the edge off hearing "six more weeks of winter."
*Wine and Chocolate Festival, two sessions: 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m., in Adam's Mark Hotel (120 Church St.). Tickets are $25 to partake or $10 to be a designated driver. More information can be found here.
How much more of an introduction does this event need? Guests can sample wines from more than 20 local and regional wineries, as well as munch on chocolate morsels and splash around in the chocolate fountain. (OK, maybe don't splash too much.) Choose from one of the two sessions and treat yourself to a sweet Saturday.
*Bavarian Winterfest, 4 to 8 p.m. in Hydraulic Hearth (716 Swan St.). Free to attend.
Essentially the culmination of the Larkinville Ice Festival, Hydraulic Hearth will open its outdoor, heated beer garden for a hot beverage menu featuring Jagermeister. There will be an ice shot luge for adventurous drinkers, as well as complimentary sausage and vegetables for all.
*Niagara Wine and Beer Tasting Fest, 5 to 9 p.m. in Kenan Center (433 Locust St., Lockport). Tickets are $25 for general admission, $50 for VIP, and can be purchased here. Prices rise to $35 for admission on day of the event.
More than 20 local wineries and breweries make the trek to Lockport for this festival, which also features live music from the Observers, a $5 voucher for snack or restaurant food. VIPS get extra perks like earlier arrival time, reserved parking, $1 off wine by the bottle. Attendees will receive a tasting journal, too, in case you don't want to commit to memory the brewery that crafted a life-altering porter.
*IPA Festival of Buffalo Polka Bands, 5:30 p.m. to midnight in Potts Deli (41 S. Rossler Ave., Cheektowaga). Admission is $15 at the door, and International Polka Association members get in for $10. More info here.
Not to be confused with India Pale Ale, the International Polka Association presents its second annual festival, a highlight of National Polka Month. Seven local polka bands will play throughout the evening in Potts Deli, which is known for its pierogi and golombki. Bands include the Buffalo Concertina All Stars, Buffalo Touch, The Knewz, Phocus and Rare Vintage.
*Lumagination, 6 to 10 p.m. in Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens (2655 South Park Ave.). Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors (62+) and students (13+ with ID), $10 for members, $6 for kids ages 3-12. Children 2 and under enter for free. Exhibit is also open for several dates in February.
New to the annual lighting of the Botanical Gardens is a collaboration with the University at Buffalo, from which professors and undergraduate students will help create an audio-visual experience on the front lawn and in one of the greenhouses. See the Gardens' myriad plants bathed in vibrant lights, courtesy of Luminated Landscapes.
*Silent Disco, 7 to 10 p.m. at Canalside (44 Prime St.). Headphones can be rented for $5, while a package including headphones, admission for ice skating, skate rental and a beverage is $20. More info here.
Canalside embraces Silent Disco, a dance party where attendees don headphones and have their choice of music from three deejays transmitted wirelessly into their ears. Don't like what's playing? Switch quickly to a different artist by pressing a button. John Ceglia, female house duo AdLyb and DJ Yes will all spin on site as listeners can roam Canalside - and even ice skate - with a spring in their steps.
More than 25 local deejays will spin hour-long sets across three rooms of the cavernous Ukrainian Center to celebrate Dark Waves Entertainment's fourth anniversary, which arrives with a somber tinge. Proceeds from the event will benefit the family of the promotion company's founder and rising dubstep producer, Andrew Krawczyk, who died in late December at age 24.
Miami-born deejay John Borger - known musically as Borgeous - invades flashy VENU with a growing catalog of electronic dance music hits, including "Tsunami," which reached No. 1 on iTunes in 15 countries. He's touring off "13," released Aug. 13, 2016, which balances chill and aggressive house music.
*Make America Love Again, 9 p.m. in Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.). Admission is $5 at the door, and the event benefits Journey's End Refugees Services. For ages 21 and older unless accompanied by parent or guardian.
The Psychedelic Society of Western New York, which works to reduce the harm of psychedelics through community involvement and education, hosts a one-night music festival on Allen Street, featuring Gang of Thieves, Space Junk, Emanon, Haewa and more.
Email Ben Tsujimoto, who regularly loses to alpacas in corn hole, at firstname.lastname@example.org