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The 10: New Year's Eve highlights, Lotus, Snowzilla

1) Statler City Ice Ball, 7 p.m. Dec. 31 in 107 Delaware Ave. Ticket prices range from $115 to $135, depending on your room of choice. All tickets must be purchased online, and reserved seats may be chosen here. Separate from the Ice Ball, a dance party will take over the Statler's Niagara Room, for $60.

Commentary: The process for attending the glamorous Ice Ball has been streamlined for 2017, as all tickets must be purchased online and the food will be centered in a main area.

A premium open bar runs from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., an impressive dinner spread (with gluten-free options!) will be laid out and entertainment from Boys of Summer, the Toy Brothers and more will please the formal party spread across the five rooms. The Smiles gallery from New Year's Eve 2016 should give an idea of what to expect.


2) Brew Year's Eve, 7 p.m. Dec. 31 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). In advance, tickets are $75 for a single and $135 for a couple, while prices rise at the venue to $85 and $155.

Commentary: The event page on RiverWorks' site claims there will be "champagne toast hats," which A) I didn't know existed and B) Is actually just an innocent typo. But if you're looking for a retail niche, look no further.

RiverWorks' New Year's Eve extravaganza will shine the spotlight on the Pearl Street line of beers, now brewed in the silos nearby. Open bar runs from 8 p.m. to midnight, while the buffet station - with extravagant (and long-winded) options such as pepper-crusted, orange chardonnay-glazed strip loin - rolls from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

XOXO, a pop cover band who just drew a nice crowd to Savoy in Allentown, will handle the music.


3) 30th anniversary of the downtown ball drop, 10:30 p.m. Dec. 31 by the Electric Tower (535 Washington St.), intersection of Huron, Genesee and Washington. Free to attend.

Commentary: Dare to brave Siberian temperatures to witness the glittery ball drop from the Electric Tower? Some would argue it's worth it. It certainly is cheaper than many alternatives.

Musical performances by jazz saxophonist Will Holton and country singer Caitlin Koch begin a little after 10 p.m., while a laser light show, video displays and the celebratory fireworks lend a visual component that's improved over the years. It's the first New Year's Eve that Buffalo has offered ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, and the metro will keep later hours than usual.

While the downtown ball drop is family friendly, First Night Buffalo caters even more intentionally to kids. More details on that here.


4) New Year's Buffet Dance Party, 10 p.m. Dec. 31 in Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino (310 4th St., Niagara Falls). Tickets are $99 and may be purchased here.

Commentary: Thunder Falls Buffet in the Seneca Niagara celebrates the turn of the calendar with a DJ-driven party featuring an open bar, buffet and favors. Warning: don't dance too hard on a full stomach.

For those searching for a family-friendly alternative in Niagara Falls, the Conference and Event Center (101 Old Fall St.) offers kids activities and climaxes with a 10 p.m. balloon drop featuring sparkling juice.


5) Largest Balloon Drop, 8 p.m. Dec. 31 in VENU (75 W. Chippewa St.). Cost is $20 at the door before 10 p.m., $30 after. Skip-the-line VIP runs for $50, while $100 VIP includes a bottle of champagne and guaranteed entry into the event.

Commentary: What separates VENU's New Year's Eve bash from the others? Two things: an all-night liquor license to serve from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Jan. 1, according to its Facebook event page, and the biggest balloon drop in the city, at midnight. For the record, I don't know who can possibly drink for that amount of time, and no, that's not a challenge.


6) The Machine Performs Pink Floyd, 7 p.m. doors, 8 p.m. show on Dec. 31 in Rapids Theatre (1711 Main St., Niagara Falls). Cost is $20 standing, $35 for seating and limited $50 VIP. Prices rise $5 for each level at the door; ticket details here.

Commentary: This Pink Floyd tribute band's show was moved from Oct. 28 to the final night of 2017, when the Machine will skillfully weave through the legendary rock band's 16 albums.

Considering the area's appreciation for talented cover bands - see Lazlo Hollyfeld's recent slew of shows, or the massive crowd whenever Badfish comes to town - expect the Machine to be welcomed with open arms.


7) Lotus, doors at 8 p.m. Dec. 30 in Buffalo RiverWorks (359 Ganson St.). Cost is $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

Commentary: Five-piece electronic jam band LOTUS swings to RiverWorks on the night before New Year's Eve for a dance party. Expect a dazzling light show, a wealth of live instruments and a smattering of genres; the EDM veterans, with their own twist, are a major divergence from recent visitors like Slushii, Borgore and Illenium.


8) Aqueous, doors at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 in Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.

Commentary: News pop music critic Jeff Miers and regular contributor Mac McGuire posted their top New Year's Eve shows, which you can read in the link below, but leading the way is Aqueous, who's nabbed the coveted Town Ballroom slot. The local rockers will play the Gorillaz for their second set, while Sonny Baker-led Lazlo Hollyfeld is slated to kick the show off.

A New Year's Eve guide for music lovers


9) Sam Roberts Band, doors at 7 p.m. Dec. 30 in Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door.

Commentary: Favored Canadian neighbors of Buffalo music fans, Sam Roberts Band rolls in yet again Saturday for a show in the Ballroom. News contributor Michael Farrell catches you up on the Montreal quintet's recent musical forays below.

Sam Roberts Band returns for New Year's weekend


10) Canalside World Juniors Village, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 31 at 44 Prime St. Free to take part.

Commentary: A litany of activities, almost all kid-friendly, make up the World Junior Championships Village at Canalside, where international visitors will explore what Buffalo has to offer.

Headlining the event, which runs through Jan. 5, is the 40-foot-high Snowzilla, an icy slide - aided by silicone spray - that's rather addicting. Other attractions to check out include decorative ice blocks harboring hockey jerseys, ample hot beverage options and a hockey skills competition.

40-foot-high 'Snowzilla' towers over Canalside, offers challenge to sledders


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